I firmly believe electrically powered vehicles will eventually overshadow internal combustion engine types. The simplicity of their systems, likely reduction in required maintenance (service periods between repair/service stops will be measured in years) and their morphing into autonomous driving machines are all compelling reasons for their probable success in this area.
With the above in mind, and with the inevitable need to replace one of our ICE machines coming up, I decided to explore the state of EVs for my wife’s and my use. After doing some research, as I write this I found three autos worthy of consideration. The following is my take on where “we” are in the ongoing EV paradigm shift.
First, a bit of background. My wife and I are retired, in our seventies, and live in two places, Cape Cod and just south of Tucson, Arizona. The location for this vehicle purchase was to be at our AZ home. Ninety-nine of the use of this proposed vehicle would be in the vicinity of our home near Tucson.
Three vehicles (or companies) seemed to stand out; Nissan, Chevy, and Tesla. Below are the pros and cons of all the available offerings from those three companies.
Ignoring battery issues for the moment, the all-electric Leaf really stands out. The auto is a proven, thoughtful, practical design, with owners voicing little complaint in regard this model vehicle’s basic integrity. In addition, Nissan dealers are “everywhere.” If I had a problem in a Leaf, the solution would not be far away.
The newest version coming out (in 2018) will have a decent range, which I would have put up with, as 95% of the use of this proposed vehicle would be in the vicinity of our home near Tucson. Having said that, given my druthers I would not normally look to procure an EV which did not have a number “2” in front of its mileage range. But the Leaf’s solid design and overall reliability overcame that concern.
Heat and battery issues did not. Even though the machine would be used only during the months of October through May, it would be stored in our garage during the summer. Daytime temperatures, for a few months at least, get into the three digit range.
Until Nissan comes through with some sort of cooling system for its EV battery pack, I just cannot bring myself to pull the pin on such a purchase. Too bad, really, as the car has lots going for it.
A beguiling auto. I like its looks, have read no disparaging information in regard the vehicle’s quality or reliability (OK, it’s still pretty new to the market) and find its 238 mile range a number I can live with. Keep in mind, I would not charge any EV we owned to more than 80% of capacity, so as to prolong battery life. Thus that range was a realistic ±190 miles (by extension the 2018 Leaf’s real range being around 120 miles), enabling us to charge the auto probably every four or five days.
The Bolt is small, but seems, from the materials and videos I’ve seen, reasonably roomy inside. The front seats, on the other hand, may be a bit snug. I cannot really tell without actually sitting in one of these autos.
Both the Bolt and the Leaf cannot, as a practical matter, be used for any sort of distance driving. It would appear that the available charging stations are somewhat spotty in maintenance, slow in recharging EVs, and some are quite expensive for the service they provides.
The “elephant in the room” is, of course, Tesla. Some pros, a bunch of cons. The vehicles are beautiful, which is nice, have wonderful 80% charge range, but they can be serviced only at Tesla facilities. The closest to us is in Phoenix, three hours, each way, from where we live! Until Tucson has a Tesla service center, this discussion is strictly academic.
They are pricey. As nice as the Model 3 is, the version which I’d be interested in purchasing would run us around fifty thousand dollars. If I ever did buy a Tesla, it’d likely be a used model.
Their quality control is, to be blunt, spotty. Too much gee-whiz stuff without sufficient consideration to the practical realities of real world use. Lots to go wrong. Lots of very expensive things can go wrong, technical gadgets to get out of whack and unnecessary parts that just beg to go out of kilter (case in point, those silly door handles. Really?)
Tesla maintenance and repairs are expensive. Really expensive. You don’t want to have a minor fender bender in your Tesla. Furthermore, Tesla is the only game in town for dealing with such matters. Yeah, there are pros and cons to that business model. Makes me nervous.
The company does seem to have their battery issues under control. Internal cooling of batteries is a good thing. I would not hesitate to operate one of their vehicles on a “warm” day.
The biggest selling point for Tesla is that wonderfully growing array of charging stations. Now, if I were king, I’d have worked out some sort of a deal where all the EVs on the road would have to have identical charging ports and, furthermore, I would have one or more car companies come to a deal with Tesla in order for their vehicles to have access to these stations. Yes, I’m a dreamer.
Bottom line; I’m pulling for the Leaf. Well thought out, well put together, but needs to address its battery issues. I truly hope the company does so. And when it does, I hope to buy one.
Good luck to all!
(cool on the Cape at the moment, but soon warmer in AZ!)