Road & Track columnist Peter Egan once wrote, “Cars are considered to be an art form, yet the Mona Lisa, I’ve noticed, never needs a cooling system flush or new brake pads.” Automotive design has been an integral part of the car industry since the 1920s, when GM began to develop the first year-over-year changes to their cars’ visual appearance. As makes and models have evolved, so have the varying design languages associated with them—with varying degrees of success.
If you want your “green” car to stand out, it should resemble something green. That’s why designers of the Nissan Leaf, an all-electric vehicle, designed it to look like a lizard.
Well, that’s the only explanation I can come up with to justify the Leaf’s bulging eyeballs and arched back.
Don’t get me wrong here, I love the Leaf. My in-laws own one and have traversed over 30,000 gas-free miles in it, while getting stranded away from home only a handful of times.
The Leaf is the world’s top-selling electric car because it’s the EV most similar to its juice-drinking cousins.
That design, though, just has to go.
There are some things all cars should be able to do:
- Make it up a hill
Pretty basic, right? The only car I’ve ever driven that struggled to make it up a hill was a 1987 Subaru GL. That car, for whatever reason, barely had enough power to drive over the added elevation of stripes in a parking lot.
I mention this because last weekend I attended an electric car show and managed to take an up close and personal look at some of the EVs currently on American roads. All were impressive.
One couldn’t make it up a hill.
That’s a phrase that should never be uttered, regardless of circumstances. I called a friend yesterday, asked him what he was doing and he said, “Just driving.”
That got me thinking. This is a world filled with two types of people: those who love to drive and those who have to drive. If you’re behind the wheel, and the phone rings, I hope you’re the kind of person who doesn’t even notice because you’re so in tune with your car and your driving.
I hope you’re NOT the kind of person who is able to fumble for the phone, turn on Bluetooth, answer and say that you’re “just driving.”
If you’re the kind of person who loves to drive, and has the opportunity to drive to work every day, here are some of the most fun cars you can take on your daily commute.
What’ll it be:
A new Nissan Leaf for less than $25,000, a new Chevy Volt for around $37,000, a new Cadillac ELR for $76,000, a new Tesla Model S for upwards of $80,000 or maybe the new BMW i3 or i8 or Mercedes-Benz B-Class electric?
A growing number of used electrics are also hitting the market. Prices for those range from the high teens to $400,000. (More on that later.)
How’s a car shopper supposed to decide the best course of action to go electric for the first time?
Read on, friends, for the answer awaits.
Sometimes the universe chooses crazy ways to tell us things.
Whether in life, love, or work, sometimes things happen that are just too much to write off as coincidence and can only be described as the work of fate.
In addition to pulling the strings of how and when people meet or opening the door to new potential career paths, it seems the universe has taken an interest in the furtherance of electric cars.
Allow me to explain.
I’ve never been excited about an electric car. Ever.
I don’t even like electric golf carts or those little shuttles that sneak up on unsuspecting travelers in airports. Put a gas engine in those things and watch folks get out of the way!
As I’ve said here many times, my problems with electric vehicles stem from their limited range, outrageous cost and, most of all, the misguided notion that fueling a car with coal-produced electricity is any better than efficiently using gasoline. Not to mention the toxicity of making, and disposing of, the battery packs.
With all that said, the 2013 Ford C-Max Energi could be a car that begins to change the minds of people like me.
The Chevrolet Volt: Electric without the anxiety.
If I sat on the marketing team for the Volt, that’s a slogan I might throw out there for consideration. While it’s possible to drive the Volt for months on end on electric power only, thus never needing to stop at a gas station, the car provides the option of driving from Boston to Seattle if the owner so chooses. That’s because the Volt’s genius powertrain allows for all-electric trips of roughly 40 miles or can use its small gas engine to extend range all the way to… well… Seattle.
While the car costs way too much (in my humble opinion), has suffered from a terrible marketing campaign and has been at the center of a heated political debate, owners seem to love the experience of the Volt and would buy one all over again. Which is more than Nissan can claim about its fuel-efficient Versa.
Let’s talk fuel efficiency.
Gas prices keep going up, people keep complaining, blah blah blah. Nothing new to report there.
It’s the cars that people choose to buy as prices rise that remains an interesting, though somewhat predictable, topic. One new highly efficient car has outsold the February totals of both the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf.
In just three days.
Range anxiety is treatable.
While I’m not sold on the serious need for electric vehicles, I acknowledge that we’re likely to see more gas-less motor cars swishing through our cities in the coming years.
I see three big problems with EVs:
- They have an extremely limited range (which varies according to many factors, including temperature, traffic conditions and speed).
- There is no mass infrastructure to recharge them.
- The electricity they use still must be produced somehow. (Coal? Nuclear?)
Infrastructure can be built and more nuclear plants can go live to pump more electricity into our failing grid. But there’s not much that can be done to change the fact that batteries in electric cars will empty much faster than they recharge. So how can you deal with the anxiety of not making it home once you venture out in your new electric car? Keep reading, friends.