Now with a handful of both full-electric and electric-hybrid cars on the market, that stereotype is being pushed out faster than the cool air in a BMW i8's turbo 3 cylinder. There are actual, viable car options on the market for those searching for a way to save on gas and do less damage to the environment. Maybe its the specter of never stopping at a 7-11 for gas or maybe its the idea of not contributing to the fracking of mother nature's every exposed crack, but nowadays, you can save both the world and your gas budget by simply choosing green. I set off on my search for an electric bugaloo because my 62 mile daily commute gets pricey in my otherwise economical Acura.
First stop: Japan. The Nissan Leaf, though it looks like a squashed frog, is electric powered and may work for the right owner. The advertised electric range of the Leaf is 100 miles per full charge. This means for me, that if I traveled to work, limited my errands throughout the day, and headed home, I'd never run out of juice. And the Leaf costs the same as many other new cars a family man might want - around $23K. I'd have to make sure I plugged it in every night and that there was ample wattage coming through the house but here's the deal: I'd save over $200 a month on gas by switching to a Leaf.
The only downside, and this is why there isn't a Leaf in my garage right now - the actual mileage is somewhere closer to 68-75 miles per charge. For a city-dweller with a less lower-back damaging commute than mine this might work out great, especially if there are charge stations near their work. However for me, that lower range in driving creates a cringe in me known as "range anxiety." I just can't bare the thought of running low on juice and instead of pulling off at any given stop or intersection and into a Maverick or 7-11 like a traditional driver, I'd have to hunt for a charging station and wait 4 hours for the charge to fill up my battery before getting home. The Leaf is out, carried away on a fall breeze.
Up the market, and up the price index, is the hybrid electric, the Chevy Volt. The Volt has an electric engine that can charge the electric batteries and extend its driveable range. The range more than doubles that of the Leaf - almost 350 miles! Now, that range anxiety I had with the Leaf can be transferred to some other form of useless anxiety. I'm sure I'll come up with something.
The only downside to the Volt? Its up-market cost. They sticker at around $33K, quite a bit more than the Leaf. Leases on the Volt range from $100 to $150 a month more than a Leaf. Unless you were already in the market for a $420 a month lease, its hard to realize that extra damage per month as anything other than spending more green to look green.
Which brings us all the way up the market to the Tesla Model S. Range anxiety? None. 300-400 miles per charge. Full electric (no pesky gas stops like the Volt)? Yep. Gorgeous to look at? Yep. Room for the whole family? Seats 7, if you option it that way. There is simply no better car for me and my family that would cost a whopping *0* at the gas station.
Here's a list of other lustful notables of the Tesla:
- The floor is made up of batteries, lowering the center of gravity. This increases handling and maneuverability to sports-car-like reflexes.
- A 19 inch screen controls all of the HVAC and accessory functions of the car, like a giant iPad.
- The back hatch can serve as room for groceries or can be optioned as extra jump-seats for the
- small humans that live with you.
- Instant torque means you can launch the car through traffic holes by one simple squish of the gas pedal.
- The door handles disappear flush into the doors. Howard Hughes would piss a brick if he saw that (but then he'd keep that bring in a mason jar).
Now, get me $80K for one and we can live out all of our green fantasies.