August 10, 2009

How good is the new EV, the Leaf?

Pretty good.

Some sources say that the Nissan Leaf ( ) will cost around $25K-$33K without the battery (you lease the battery, which is supposed to be cheaper than gas). Others that it will be priced in the same range as the Altima. With the battery, it's likely to be about $10K more.

The Leaf has a battery capacity of 24KWH. This is 8KWH larger than the Volt's 16 KWH, and the Volt adds an internal combustion engine. The extra 8KWH of battery capacity likely costs about $4k, while the ICE costs about $2k. So, the Volt should be cheaper.

The Volt's pricing hasn't been announced, but it's executives have talked about something close to $40k. It sure looks like they're going to price it just as high as they can (taking into account the $7,500 tax credit) to capture the early-adopter premium. If the Leaf is very competitive, you can be sure the Volt price will drop.

We're seeing a continuum of capital cost, electrification and operating costs: hybrids like the Prius are cheapest and least electrified; PHEVs like the Volt (40 mile electric range, with gas engine backup) are in the middle; and EV's like the Leaf (70-100 mile range)are most expensive. Which you choose depends largely on your economic situation and in the short-term, how much you're willing to pay to reduce your oil consumption (IOW, your personal pricing of oil's externalities).

When PHEVs and EVs hit very large production volumes, their overall cost will be lower than conventional cars, but not before.

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