I read an article in this morning’s WSJ about the Nissan Leaf. The Leaf, which will be out in 2012, is an all-electric vehicle. It’s estimated to go 100 miles on a charge. According to the WSJ, it’s expected to price out at about $33,720 (or $26,220 with a $7,500 tax credit). I haven’t read up on the tax credit so I’m not sure if it’s available to everyone or will be phased out for those in higher brackets.
My first question was:
“How much will it cost me to charge the battery?”
After installing a home charging station ($2,200 not including a tax credit), Nissan says that at an average of $.11 per kWh, it will cost $2.75 for a full charge (see here). Doing a little math, that works out to about 25 units (I don’t know what else to call it) of electricity used to make a full charge. I looked at one of my electric bills and determined that we are paying $.125129 per kWh. Multiplying that by 25, I get about $3.13 per charge. So, $3.13 per 100 miles. Our Rendezvous costs about 4 TIMES that much to drive 100 miles (averaging 20 miles per gallon and paying $2.50 per gallon).
Not counting other automobile maintenance, a gasoline powered car would have to get 80 mpg in order to get its fuel cost equivalent to that of the Leaf’s.
The 100 mile range is a significant drawback in my view (at least for my family). My wife has a 120-mile per commute so she wouldn’t be a good candidate unless she could plug in the vehicle while she was at work. Since I work from home, my driving is a lot less. I could be a good candidate. But, with three kids, we desire a bigger vehicle for family trips and stuff like that. That means, for us, my wife would have to drive the bigger vehicle to and from work.
Another consideration is that the number of miles between charges will decrease as the battery ages. And, these batteries could cost thousands of dollars to replace.
The bottom line for me is that I would consider buying one IF they could get more miles between charges. There’s talk of building charging stations but there wouldn’t be any in our area for quite sometime. And, a charging station would take approximately 30 minutes to fully charge the Leaf. What would be cool is if they could figure out a way to make batteries easily changeable. Then, Leaf owners could lease a battery and just change them out at a charging station rather than having to wait to charge them.
Finally, my other concerns are:
• What happens to all the spent batteries? Landfill or could they be reused?
• What kind of stress would all these plug in vehicles put on the electric grid? Would electric companies then have to charge more per kWh in order to make upgrades?