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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Volt and Leaf comparison questions

Volt and Leaf comparison questions:
1. Which one is more fun to drive?
Fun is very subjective. The Leaf is a little faster off the line and gets my vote. 

2. Which one has a better value/price ratio ?
This depends on your needs. I still have a gas SUV for camping and skiing, so this works for me whenever the Leaf's range won't cut it. The Volt costs more than the Leaf and in my case, the range extender would not do much for me, so is not worth the extra cost. 

3. For those that own both cars , If you had to give up one, which would it be ?
I don't own both, but if I were forced to own only one vehicle, I would want a plug-in hybrid SUV with 4WD and towing capability, which does not exist (yet). 

4. Which car needs the most improvement ? 
They are both 1st gen (in 2011) and improvements are trickling in.

More thoughts on value/price ratio: I think the real question is which one fits your needs best. Up leveling from the Volt and the Leaf specifically, I think it is really about what drivetrain (plug-in hybrid or BEV) fits your personal needs best. 

If you have a reliable, consistent commute/driving schedule that is within a BEVs range AND access to a gas powered vehicle when you need it (friends/car sharing/rent/own/taxi…), then a BEV can be a fit for you. However, if you have unpredictable driving needs, or no access to a backup, then a plug-in hybrid is likely a better fit.

Given the specs of most BEVs today, I think more people fall into the plug-in hybrid bucket. As BEVs improve (range, charge time…), this line will slowly shift. To be clear, I drive a Nissan Leaf and I love it, but if you have doubts or concerns about a BEV, then I think a PHV is the way to go. It allows you to move some (possibly a large majority) of your driving to be grid powered, while still giving you the safety net of the gas station infrastructure that already exists. 
There have been many Volt vs Leaf articles, threads, discussions… To me they are very different cars, with very different capabilities. Just as there is no “moving trucks vs sports cars” debate there should not be a PHV vs BEV debate. You pick the one that meets your needs. If you are trying to move furniture with a sports car, you will be disappointed. If you are trying to use that moving van at the track, you will again be disappointed. The Volt and the Leaf were the first high volume plug-in cars of this generation, so there is a natural tendency to compare them. I find them to be serving different market needs, so the comparison seems over blown to me."