Nissan Leaf or Chevy Volt – Which Will Cost Less to Maintain?

Two major automakers have scheduled the release of the first mass-produced electric vehicles (EV’s) in the U.S. In November 2010, Chevrolet will be releasing their version of the electric hybrid, the Chevy Volt and in January of 2011, the rival company, Nissan will release their all-electric version, the Nissan Leaf. Car experts are trying to determine, which company will release the winner in 2011. However, consumers who are considering buying a new EV are wondering, which option will be the most cost-effective. In the following information, we will weigh the pros and cons associated with each new model to help you determine which option is right for you.

Starting Price: Chevy Volt vs. Nissan Leaf

EV car owners are eligible for a federal tax credit of $7,500, just for owning these eco-friendly vehicles. Before the tax credit, the Volt from Chevrolet will cost $41,000, initially, and the Nissan Leaf will feature a starting price of $32,780. While the difference in starting price is considerable (the Volt from Chevrolet is more than $8,000 more than Nissan’s Leaf), that does not necessarily mean that maintenance costs will be lower.

Driving Distance: Chevy Volt vs. Nissan Leaf

The Chevy Volt is not purely electric, unlike the Leaf. A battery powers the Volt for the first 40 miles and after that point, the gasoline-fueled portion of the engine goes into action and provide several hundreds more miles (approximately 300 more) to the driving range. However, the all-electric Leaf offers a 100-mile range, which is said to be adequate for the average distance driven by most Americans each day. However, the Leaf’s driving distance may cause “range anxiety” for drivers.

Charging Time: Chevy Volt vs. Nissan Leaf

The Nissan Leaf can be charged in approximately eight hours with a 220-volt outlet (traditionally used for electric clothes dryers); however, a standard home outlet (110-volt) could take as much as 12 to 16 hours to fully charge. However, Nissan is offering Leaf owners the option of purchasing a home charging station priced around $2,200 (including installation), which can be offset with a 50 percent tax credit with a maximum benefit of $2,000. Considering the average cost of electricity, the Leaf costs approximately $2.80 to charge. The Volt features a smaller battery and does not go as far as the Leaf on electric power, alone and therefore, require gasoline to power the engine. However, Chevrolet’s EV can be recharged in just eight hours using a standard home outlet (110-volt) and in less than four hours with a 220-volt outlet.

While the Volt is able to drive farther than the Leaf with a single charge, the starting price of the Leaf is much more attractive to drivers who have shorter commutes. The Volt would be well suited for owners who drive 20 miles to work. In that case, Volt owners would only need to buy gas if they plan to take longer trips.

GM and Nissan are obviously competing for the affection of the American car buyer by offering matching warranties for their EV’s including an astounding eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty on the battery alone.

Car buyers can decide for themselves which option is best (and cheapest) for them based on the initial starting price, battery-charging needs and daily driving habits.

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