After 3.5 years, I’ve finally re-joined the community of car owners.
Between February 2008 and last week, I was car-less. I borrowed and rented cars, took taxis and Zip cars, and occasionally biked. I also bummed a lot of rides (thank you very much – you know who you are). It had started when the warranty on my fancy German gas guzzler expired; I sold the thing, and never really found the time to shop around for a replacement – Who Has Time For This?
I felt a lot more excited about the prospect of driving an electric sedan, which should be greener, potentially faster, simpler to operate, and cheaper to fuel. Most importantly, I’d never have to kill ten minutes stopping for gas – Who Has Time For This? So I put my name down on the lists for a Tesla Model S, Fisker Karma, Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt, deciding to wait for one to be built. Three years later, I got calls from Fisker, Nissan and Chevy, and it was time to decide.
After examining the options and driving the cars, it was a pretty easy decision to buy the Leaf for these eight reasons:
1. Compared to the others, the Leaf gets twice the range from a battery charge: 100 miles, or 85 miles with the AC cranking. (Plugging the car in and out adds about 15 seconds a day to your daily routine, or 5 minutes a month – about half the time we spend at gas pumps.)
2. With a pure electric motor (not a hybrid gasoline engine) the Leaf is nimbler, less fragile, and legal to drive in California’s carpool lanes so I can bypass the Highway 101 traffic jams – WHTFT?
3. Driving in electric mode (without the help of a hybrid gasoline engine) is wonderfully quiet and smooth (no transmission). Even at 80 miles per hour the acceleration is immediate and impressive.
4. The Leaf steers as smoothly as a Lexus, and the small wheels turn on a dime.
5. Only the Leaf has open, comfortable seats with ample head room in front and leg room in back (a must if you have kids)
6. Only the Leaf carries 5 passengers (a must if you have THREE kids!)
7. The Leaf has the largest trunk, and the back seats fold down for more cargo space.
8. The Leaf costs 3/4 as much as the Volt, and 1/3 as much as the Karma. You get at least $7500 in tax credits, offset by the $2,000 expense of a home 220 volt charging station.