By John Addison (10/31/11)
I just drove two electric cars on the same route that included demanding freeway acceleration, cruising along a beautiful ocean highway, serious hill climbing, and maneuvering through street traffic. Let’s compare the Mitsubishi i with a starting price of $29,125 with the Nissan LEAF with a starting price over $6,000 higher.
Mitsubishi will finish 2011 with about 5,000 electric cars on the road globally. Mitsubishi has taken orders for 400 of the Mitsubishi i in the USA and will start dealer deliveries in about 3 months. Nissan will finish 2012 with about 50,000 electric cars on the road globally and 20,000 delivered in the USA.
The Mitsubishi i is a 5-door, 4-seat, microcompact with more room inside than a MiniCooper and friendly outside looks similar to a VW bug. The Nissan LEAF is a 5-door 5-seat, compact hatchback with stylish yet conventional looks.
Mitsubishi i Meets Demands of Test Drive
I started each test drive at a Best Buys in Northern California. Mitsubishi is first touring the West Coast and later other parts of the country letting people take their EV out for a spin. Some showed up solo, others brought the family including kids and car seats. Best Buys will be putting some Mitsubishi i cars into their Geek Squad fleet. Best Buys also sells the Eaton Level 2 charger and can arrange the charger installation in your garage.
Being a pure battery-electric the Mitsubishi i cruised the first mile in near silence, demanding little work from the electric motor. Then I entered a freeway onramp where I was forced to accelerate into merging freeway traffic up a 6-percent grade. I shifted from ECO to Drive mode for better acceleration. On a flat the Mitsubishi can go from zero to 60 in 12 seconds. Up these steep freeway grade the Mitsubishi merged into traffic, slowly accelerated to 70 mph passing a couple of cars and trucks that were struggling with the hill which I purposely selected for this test drive.
When I reached the peak, I was rewarded with a magnificent view of the Pacific Ocean stretching to the horizon. As I took a steep downhill decent, I shifted into “B” which aggressively applied motor resistance for regenerative braking. When I leveled out on Coast Highway, I shifted back into ECO mode that extends the electric range about 10 percent by smoothing acceleration. After 3 miles I ascended another steep hill. ECO mode handled the ascent just fine.
The Mitsubishi i handled curves well. It had a bit of a sports car feel due to its low center of gravity and rear-wheel drive handling with the electric motor over the rear axle finished the drive in stop-go traffic with the car handling lane shifts with ease.
Nissan LEAF Meets Demands of Test Drive with Ease
On the identical route, I drove my own Nissan LEAF that has been problem free in all driving situations for six months, rain or shine, day or night. The LEAF merged on to the 6-percent freeway grade with more ease than the Mitsubishi, as I shifted from ECO to “D” (drive mode). The LEAF reach 80 mph faster than the Mitsubishi I reached 65 mph. The LEAF has an 80kW electric motor; Mitsubishi 49kW.
As I descended towards the Pacific Ocean, I shifted into ECO mode. The LEAF does not have a “B” mode for extra regen braking, but like other electric cars it does put energy into the lithium battery pack during downhill, when braking, and even when the computer determines that extra energy can be captured.
Enjoying the drive along Coast Highway, I fishermen casting lines, surfers catching waves, and golfers hiking into the rough. Like the Mitsubishi i the LEAF climbed hills fine in ECO mode, handling windy curves with ease, and cruised the surface streets in silence. The LEAF seemed a bit more quiet than the already quiet Mitsubishi i.
The Mitsubishi i appeared to achieve 4.3 miles/kW; the 600-pound heavier LEAF only achieved 3.9 miles/kW. The Mitsubishi did not offer a precise reading, just a display showing battery use. The LEAF offered a precise read-out. I did push the LEAF to 80 mph, so the comparison is not perfect, but indicates that the Mitsubishi uses a bit less electricity. Since I have never paid over $40 per month to keep my LEAF charged; the difference is not much.
The lighter Mitsubishi i has an EPA adjusted range of 62 miles with its 16kW lithium battery pack; the Nissan LEAF has an EPA adjusted range of 73 miles with its 24kW lithium battery pack. Stay in ECO mode and stay below 50 mph and you are likely to have a 100-mile range in the Mitsubishi i and 120 in the LEAF.
In pure electric cars, range concerns are real unless you can afford a Tesla Roadster or the new Tesla Model S with a 300-mile range option. To extend range, I always drive my LEAF in ECO mode and rarely exceed 65 mph. I go for smooth driving and use cruise control. On 10 percent of trips, I use Charge Point or Google Maps to find public charging stations, and sometimes spend an hour or two on the computer in the café as I pick-up 10 to 30 extra miles of range. The 2012 LEAF has a Level 2 Charge of 6.6 kW/hour, double the speed of the Mitsubishi 3.3 kW/hour. For some people, that speed will matter.
The 2012 Nissan LEAF comes standard with both DC Fast Charge (CHAdeMO) and Level 2 Charge ports. The DC Fast Charge is an optional extra on the Mitsubishi and narrows the price difference between the two cars to less than $3,000. With either car, a DC Fast Charge can provide 80 percent range in about 20 minutes. Both cars include a cable so that a 110 volt outlet on a dedicated circuit can be used to trickle charge the car, which turns out to be adequate for most people, as we discovered when we had to wait a few weeks for the installation of our Level 2 garage charger.
Since the average American drives 40 miles per day, the Mitsubishi i will meet the needs of most people. Some will prefer to pay the extra $6,000 for the extra range of the LEAF. Because my wife and I have two cars, range has been no problem in our six months of driving. For longer trips, we use the hybrid and save the LEAF for most days. We are also helped with over 100 public chargers installed in the Bay Area where we live and drive.
If you need one car to meet all your range demands, an electric car may still be the answer if you use car rental, car sharing, and/or transit and rail. Others will be happier with a plug-in hybrid, which stays in electric mode for typical trips and acts like a hybrid for long trips. To extend range, just visit the gas station. The have also been impressed with my test drives of plug-in hybrids like the Chevrolet Volt and Toyota Prius Plug-in. The 2012 offerings from Ford and Honda are also likely to be impressive.
Nissan LEAF offers more Passenger and Cargo Space
The Mitsubishi i has 85 cubic feet of interior space, 13 cubic feet of trunk space, which expands to 50 with the 50/50, split back seats lowered. The Nissan LEAF has 112/8 cubic feet of interior space, 14.5 cubic feet of trunk space, which expands to much more than the Mitsubishi I when 60/40 split back seats are lowered without needing to remove the headrests.
In my LEAF, my wife can load the back for projects at the schools where she is a speech therapist. I can easily fit my bicycle in the LEAF by removing the front wheel of the bike. In the Mitsubishi i, both bicycle wheels would need to be removed and rear seat headrests would need to be removed. If you need to use a rear child seat or two, you will definitely prefer the Nissan LEAF. You will be even happier with the upcoming Ford C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid.
I have been in a Nissan LEAF sitting behind a 6 foot, 4-inch driver, and then had him sit behind me. The car is a roomy compact that can seat 5. The Mitsubishi would be a tight fit for four big adults. To its credit, the USA version is bigger than the iMiEV driven in Japan and Europe. The Mitsubishi has more passenger space than some city cars I have driven like the Smart and the MiniCooper.
Both Electric Cars Get High Marks for Safety
I felt safe in both cars, even when merging into freeway traffic. Some expressway drivers will feel saver in the larger Nissan LEAF, but this Mitsubishi i received a 4-star rating in stringent crash testing performed by Euro NCAP, a multinational vehicle safety-testing consortium in Europe.
Nissan Leaf is the first electric car to earn five stars from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.
The 100-percent electric Nissan LEAF earned a 5-star overall vehicle rating for safety as part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s New Car Assessment Program (NCAP). The Nissan LEAF is the first fully electric vehicle to earn this highest distinction from the program. Starting with 2011 models, NHTSA introduced tougher tests and requirements in order to earn 5-star ratings.
When driving in snow or heavy rains, some will fell safer in the LEAF with its extra 750-plus pounds of weight. If you regularly must deal with snow, ice, and wet roads, you might do better with an AWD car than in an electric, but you’ll be making regular visits to the gas station.
Both the Mitsubishi i and the Nissan LEAF are wonderful electric cars that are currently being sold faster than they can be made. For some, the choice will be which car they get first. For others, $6,000 will be the deciding factor. After a federal tax credit of $7,500, the entry cost of the Mitsubishi electric car is only $21,625. The savings of no gasoline and little maintenance, save electric car drivers $1,000 to $2,000 per year.
For city drivers fighting for parking spaces, the smaller Mitsubishi i will allow them to fit into spaces that others cannot and save big by avoiding paid parking. The Mitsubishi i is a maneuverable city car that’s fun to drive.
The Nissan LEAF is America’s most popular electric car. It has enough room inside for 5 people and a fair amount of cargo. It has surprising performance and about 15 percent better electric range than the Mitsubishi i. The 2012 LEAF Level 2 charges at twice the speed of the Mitsubishi i. If you need premium features like DC Fast Charging, back-up camera, and hands-free audio, then the price gap between these two cars is less than $3,000.
Select either and you can feel good about helping with our energy security, environment and never being stuck in line for a gas pump. Take a test drive, you’ll enjoy it.
Mitsubishi i Review
The 2012 Honda Civic Natural Gas was awarded Green Car of the Year® . The 2012 five finalists include the 2012 Ford Focus Electric, 2012 Mitsubishi i, 2012 Toyota Prius v, 2012 Honda Civic Natural Gas, and 2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI. I have been impressed with my test drives of these cars. All will be available for dealer sales by January 2, 2012.
Last year the Chevrolet Volt was the winner. This year, no plug-in hybrids are finalists, only pure battery-electric. In previous years, turbo diesel cars have won such as the Volkswagen Jetta TDI and the Audi A3 TDI. Naturally, the classic Prius Liftback was a past winner. This year the larger crossover Prius v is competing for the top spot.
Any of these five could be the best for you depending on where you drive, your space requirements, and availability of local fueling and charging. One choice may be greener for you than another. If you are disturbed that 96 of our transportation fuel comes from petroleum, and most from countries that could shut-off supply, or from deep water drilling with oil spills, or from tar sands, then an electric car may get your vote. Many electric car drivers that I meet use their solar power to charge their electric cars. For them their green choice from the list would be the Ford Focus Electric or the smaller and less expensive Mitsubishi i. If all your electricity is from a coal power plant and you need the room of an SUV crossover, then the Prius v may be a better choice.
If you champion clean air then the Honda Civic Natural Gas may be your choice. Almost 13 million vehicles globally can be fueled with natural gas. If the fuel comes from bio-methane, then lifecycle emissions are quite small. If the natural gas comes from fracking and flames are coming out of your faucet, then you may make a different choice. This 4-door, 5-seat, sedan looks and drives like any other Honda Civic. The trunk has less because the natural gas tank is bigger than a gasoline tank. The Civic Natural Gas has an EPA rating of 28 mpg combined and 5.6 tons of CO2e annual emissions.
The Volkswagen Passat TDI is a roomy 4-door, 5-seat, midsized sedan. In city driving a good hybrid will save at the pump compared with this diesel. If you mainly driving on highways, however, you are likely to enjoy well over 40 mpg due to the wonders of the modern turbo diesel engine. The Volkswagen Passat TDI has an EPA rating of 34 mpg combined and 6.2 tons of CO2e annual emissions. Diesel and Hybrid Comparison.
My test drive of the new Toyota Prius v convinced me that you can get 42 MPG with comfort for 5 people and the flexibility to hold the cargo carried in most SUVs. The Prius v will shake-up the crossover SUV and wagon market when it goes on sale in January for only $3,000 more than the Prius Liftback. Toyota now offers four different cars in the Prius Family. EPA annual emissions are expected to be 4.7 tons CO2e. Prius v Crossover SUV test drive and review.
Ford Focus Electric is a beautiful new pure battery-electric 5-seat hatchback with a 100-mile range. Ford will soon announce prices, start taking reservations and give the Nissan LEAF head-on competition. My test drive of a prototype showed solid handling, smooth acceleration, and a quiet drive. DOE lifecycle emissions would calculate to 3.7 tons of CO2 with the 50% coal U.S. energy mix (DOE GREET 1.8), half that in a state like California and zero source-to-wheels emissions using renewable energy. Ford Focus Electric test drive and review.
Mitsubishi I is a fun-to-drive electric car that will save some city drivers a fortune by fitting into parking spaces that leave others heading to the parking garage. This 5-door hatchback comfortably seats 4. This pure battery-electric accelerated fine on the freeway. I even took it up a 16 percent grade that would bring some cars to a stand still. Customers are now out taking test drives in a number of cities and placing orders at up to $6,000 less than the Nissan LEAF. Mitsubishi I test drive and review. DOE lifecycle emissions would calculate to 3.7 tons of CO2 with the 50% coal U.S. energy mix (DOE GREET 1.8),half that in a state like California and zero source-to-wheels emissions using renewable energy.
These five candidates for 2012 Green Car of the Year®, ranging from a city car to a sedan to a roomy crossover demonstrate that we have exciting choices in meeting our needs in driving green and saving greenbacks at the pump.
When you drive down the road in your car or a friend’s and your getting navigation help to a restaurant that you just picked while listening to favorite music on Pandora you are internet connected. The internet technology in new cars will soon be a $10 billion business, as people want the best in entertainment, telematics, and infotainment. By the end of the decade, all new cars sold in the USA are likely to be internet enabled.
The competition to deliver the most advanced electric cars and user-friendly vehicles is certain to heat up on the L.A. Auto Show floor next month. All the latest advancements, plus a glimpse into the future, will be featured at the LA Show November 18-27.
Volkswagen has a system that allows a car to navigate itself through a parking structure, park, and then return to meet the owner at the entrance. Lexus is designing Driver Monitoring Systems to reduce accidents caused by distracted or drowsy drivers using tools such as infrared sensors to track eye movement. Ford is currently testing how its SYNC platform might integrate with services such as WellDoc, a cloud-based patient monitoring service, to do things like monitor a driver’s current health condition. And just this year, Nevada passed a law authorizing the use of driverless vehicles.
According to the Consumer Electronics Association, overall sales of in-vehicle technology will reach a projected $9.3 billion in 2011, which is 12 percent higher than 2009. Three million Ford vehicles now include the SYNC connectivity platform and by 2014, Ford hopes to have it in every North American model. Volkswagen is investing $20 million annually into its California-based Electronics Research Laboratory devoted to technologies such as automated driver assistance. And new legislation, such as the hands-free Safe Drivers Act of 2011, continues to speed further advancements.
New Safety and Telematics for Cars, Trucks and SUVs
Located in the design and technology hotbed of Southern California, the L.A. Show will be the ultimate showcase for these breakthrough innovations. Technology to look for includes advanced applications of Bluetooth, radar sensors, embedded telephony and cloud computing. In use, they give drivers hands-free access to personal data, communications, and audio entertainment, social networking and advanced safety measures previously unimaginable.
Automotive safety is being defined by “intelligent” systems designed to avoid and prevent accidents. Radar sensors, GPS, Artificial Intelligence, cameras and other technologies mean features such as sophisticated lane departure warning systems are now available. Like many of these new technologies, the lane departure warning systems-which use cameras and sensors to alert a driver drifting from their lane-were first introduced by luxury brands. That has changed as more mainstream vehicles, such as the 2011 Ford Focus, feature the same advanced capabilities. Related systems, including active blind-spot detection, cross-traffic alerts and backup cameras are also now appearing in vehicles across multiple price categories. These technologies alert drivers to unsafe situations through a variety of methods, including automated notifications such as subtle vibration in the steering wheel and the use of LED warning lights.
Part of the Driver Assist Package, Audi will be showcasing its “pre sense plus” technology in several vehicles making their North American debut-the 2012 S6, S7, S8 and A8 models. The integrated system anticipates and reacts to incidents using a radar-based Adaptive Cruise Control sensor, lane assist, side assist and controlled, automated braking.
BMW offers the Assist Safety Plan, a comprehensive protection platform including the SOS Emergency Request, remote Door Unlock assistance, Stolen Vehicle Recovery (a remote vehicle locator), and a Critical Calling feature for making emergency calls through the vehicle’s embedded cellular technology.
Hyundai’s safety solution is the new Blue Link platform, which offers Automatic Collision Notification (ACN) and Assistance on new vehicles including the 2012 Veloster, which will also be on the show floor this year. ACN is triggered when an airbag deploys, while the SOS system alerts safety specialists and enhanced roadside assistance via a dedicated button that automatically transmits vehicle information and location for rapid dispatch.
Mercedes-Benz ATTENTION ASSIST uses an algorithm to produce an individual driver profile that recognizes typical patterns of behavior and then compares that profile with current data from sensors to detect if the driver is tired. For example, if unintentional lane departures are detected, or delayed reaction times coupled with over-corrective steering, ATTENTION ASSIST will sound an alarm and offer a visual warning in the vehicle’s instrument cluster.
Entertainment + Information = Infotainment
Cars are now an extension of the office and the living room thanks to advanced technologies that allow drivers to share, socialize, be informed and entertained, all while keeping their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. For example, voice text messaging, found in vehicles equipped with connected systems such as Ford SYNC, enable drivers to safely send hands-free text messages, while Mercedes-Benz COMAND platform offers popular apps ranging from music services like Pandora, to social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
Cadillac will debut its new CUE (Cadillac User Experience) system: iPod integration, app capability (e.g. Pandora and Stitchert), Bluetooth hands-free technology for phoning and audio for wireless music streaming and AM/FM/HD/XM radio. It also boasts a BluRay rear-seat entertainment system and delivers new user interface advancements that emulate many of the swipe, tap, scroll and even pinch-to-zoom features that consumers have come to expect from the touch-screen interfaces of smartphones and tablets. CUE is scheduled to be available on the Cadillac XTS and ATS sedans and SRX crossover sometime in late spring of 2012.
Kia’s Microsoft-powered UVO hands-free system is available on vehicles highlighted at the L.A. Show, including the Sportage LX, EX and Sorento, and gives drivers multiple voice commands and touch screen options that allow pairing with an MP3 player, ripping music from CDs and the ability to answer and place hands-free calls and text messages.
Your Personal Chauffer and Concierge
Premium cars now offer “always-on” services for users who can access plans such as BMW Assist, GM’s OnStar, Hyundai’s Blue Link and Infiniti’s Personal Assistant. These services are enabled by technologies including cloud computing, Bluetooth hands-free communication and GPS, to provide a whole new level of function and service, such as voice text messaging, automated dispatching of emergency roadside assistance and even connecting with a live concierge for restaurant recommendations. Now, these services can be added to a broad range of vehicles with OnStar’s FMV (For My Vehicle), an after-market solution integrated into a vehicle’s rearview mirror that delivers a similar level of safety, navigation and communication technology.
Infiniti’s Personal Assistant, featured in all-new Infiniti models such as the JX luxury crossover provides 24-hour anytime/anywhere concierge service for anything from restaurant reservations to gift ideas. Part of Blue Link, Hyundai’s Service Link manages maintenance schedules, offers an Eco-Coach to improve efficient driving and even delivers restaurant ratings.
The Entune-equipped 2012 Toyota Prius v offers a feature-set including integrated apps like Bing search, Pandora, OpenTable restaurant reservations, a search for movie times and even parental-oriented functions like a GeoFencing capability that sends text alerts if a vehicle strays from a predefined area.
Navigation With Realtime Traffic
One of the first auto technology platforms appearing in vehicles over a decade ago, navigation has now become the most ubiquitous. Advanced GPS systems that navigate to destinations and locate Points of Interest (POIs) now also create custom itineraries, receive live traffic updates and respond to voice commands. Navigation has also become more integrated with other technologies, including telematics and Google data services, allowing for automated location-based alerts and customized map searches. For example, BMW’s ConnectedDrive platform automatically recognizes a vehicle’s position and can send a driver results for a pre-defined POI category, say a hotel, allowing them to select one and have it loaded into the navigation system with the touch of a button.
Hyundai’s Blue Link connectivity platform provides agent-assisted POI searches and downloads, such as locating the best gas prices, while allowing drivers to keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. Blue Link packages are available on 2012 models on view at the Show including the Azera, Sonata and Veloster, and will be in the majority of Hyundai vehicles by 2013.
Mercedes-Benz’s mbrace system, available in several vehicles on display at this year’s Show, features an advanced navigation and destination-planning database along with a companion app allowing drivers to send addresses and POIs from their smartphones. Mbrace also features live operator route assistance and the Drive2Friend feature, allowing a friend’s location to be sent from their smartphone to a vehicle’s navigation system.
These advancements in safety, infotainment and hybrid cars can be experienced in many of the vehicles featured at this year’s L.A. Auto Show.
By John Addison (updated 10/29/11; original 10/12/11)
The 2013 Spark EV is Chevrolet’s new 100% battery-electric car. It is GM’s fourth electric car model that includes the Chevrolet Volt, the Opel Ampera, and the Cadillac ELR. GM needs a pure-electric offering; Nissan LEAF is dominating the early adopter market.
Reuters reports that Nissan LEAF’s sales through September were about 27,500 — seven times higher than the Volt. Electric utility PG&E confirms that ratio reporting 1,200 LEAFs and only 250 Volts delivered in its service area – 10,000 electric cars for SF Region in 2012. GM is expanding electric car production from 10,000 this year to 65,000 in 2012 as it plays catch-up with Nissan and prepares for market share battle with Ford, Toyota, Honda, and others.
Now GM fights back with the Spark EV. A gasoline powered Spark is currently offered in some foreign markets and will be sold next year in the U.S. as a 5-door, 4-seat, subcompact hatchback. Small cars are now popular in American cities as drivers fight for expensive parking spaces. In 2012, the Mitsubishi i will lead the battle for electric city cars with a starting price of $29,195.
By the time that Chevrolet can start dealer deliveries of the 2013 Spark EV, it will face tough competition from at least 10 electric cars in the U.S. selling for under $40,000. The field will include other impressive electric cars such as the Nissan LEAF, which I own, the Mitsubishi I, the Ford Focus Electric, the Honda Fit Electric, the Scion IQ EV and others. Chevrolet only plans on limited sales in California and other select U.S. and global markets in 2013. GM has yet to announce useable battery size, range, fast charge capability or lack thereof and vehicle price. Electric car ranges of 80 to 100 miles are common.
Both the Chevrolet Spark EV and the Chevrolet Volt will be successful. Many people prefer the plug-in hybrid range of the Volt; others want a zero gasoline pure electric like the Spark and will count on the 25,000-plus public charging stations that will be available when the Spark EV is delivered. I have interviewed dozens of Volt drivers from music stars like Jackson Brown to regular commuters. They uniformly love their cars performance, reliability, and electric range.
Lithium Battery Competition – A123 Wins this Time
The Chevy Spark is a major win for the nanophosphate lithium-ion battery pack supplier A123, an American innovator that has lost most automotive design-wins to giants like Korea’s LG Chem and Samsung and Japan’s Panasonic and NEC. (Disclosure: author holds modest stock ownership in A123.)
As electric and hybrid car competition intensifies, Nissan, GM, Toyota, and Ford are in a race to sell the most vehicles with lithium batteries. I have driven cars from each of these automakers that use lithium batteries. The cars performed beautifully and delivered great fuel economy.
By the end of 2012, Nissan will have delivered 100,000 LEAFs. Renault is trying to match that number in Europe and Israel. Both automakers use AESC lithium-nickel-manganese polymer batteries. AESC is a joint venture between NEC and Nissan.
Ford may be the first carmaker to sell 100,000 cars annually that includes lithium batteries. When I lasted interviewed Nancy Gioia, Director Ford Global Electrification, she said that Ford has a 2020 goal of 10 to 25 percent of its vehicle sales including lithium batteries. Her best guess is that 70% would be hybrids, 20 to 25% plug-in hybrids, and 5 to 10% battery-electric. Everything from technology innovation to oil prices will affect the future mix.
Toyota Motor Corp is bringing to market three vehicles with lithium batteries – the Prius PHV, the RAV4 EV, and the Scion IQ EV.
Frost and Sullivan forecasts that the lithium transportation market will expand from $1.2 billion in 2011 to $14 billion in 2016. Automotive Lithium Battery Competition Report
By John Addison (10/10/11)
San Francisco Bay Area may be the nation’s first region with 10,000 electric cars. It could happen in 2012 for the region with 7 million people and 5.3 million vehicles. Electric utility PG&E reports that they are now charging 1,800 Nissan LEAFs and 250 Chevrolet Volt residential owners. Add to these numbers a growing number of electric car fleets that include Google, Bay Area Air Quality Management District, and the U.S. Navy; 4,000 freeway-speed electric vehicles in the SF Bay Area are forecast by the end of this year.
I’ve personally been to meetings where 50 of the attendees arrived in their Nissan LEAFs, Chevrolet Volts, Prius Plug-in Hybrids, and Tesla Roadsters. Also on the road in the Bay Area are test vehicles including Ford Focus Electric, Honda Fit Electric, Tesla Model S, Mitsubishi I, electric trucks and electric motor cycles. CityCar Share is ordering 15 battery-electric cars and 15 plug-in hybrids, giving these cars wide exposure to its thousands of members.
The Bay Area is the home of cities where one in five drive a Prius, Silicon Valley innovators aspire to be the next Steve Jobs, and Tesla opens a new plant with aspirations to make the U.S. the world leader in electric vehicles.
Over 1,000 electric car chargers now appear to be installed in the San Francisco Bay Area. More new EV owners are trickle-charging their cars as they wait for backlogged wall chargers to be installed by backlogged electricians dealing with backlogged utilities and city inspectors. During the next two years over 5,000 chargers, formally labeled electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE), will be installed in the Bay Area. Although homes are the primary point of charging, electric car drivers like me are extending their range by using over 100 public charge points in the Bay Area installed by Coulomb Technologies and others. Major employers are installing chargers for their employees, fleets, and visitors. Google has 70 charge stations for its over 100 employees who drive Teslas, LEAFs, Volts, and other electric cars.
Damian Breen, Director at the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, reports that over 1,000 public charging stations are being installed in the Bay Area. Most are Level 2; some are dual stations with one Level 2 and one Level 1 outlet. Also planned are 6 DC Fast Chargers to be installed in the next 12 months; 50 are scheduled to be operating by the end of 2013. These DC Fast Chargers, similar to the CHAdeMO chargers successfully used in Japan, can add 60 miles of range for a typical electric car in about 20 minutes.
In 2012, Nissan, GM, Ford, Toyota, Honda and others are offering ten different electric car models for less than $40,000. Leases start at $350. During the next two years, automakers are building new plants and expanding existing plants to keep-up with customer orders for electric cars.