Hey, LEAF and Volt fans: We’re on the same team

volt-vs-leaf1editors-blog-entry3I know more than a few Nissan LEAF advocates were likely positively gleeful at GM’s announcement that the Chevy Volt – a plug-in hybrid that will run for approximately 40 miles on battery power alone before a hybrid engine kicks in – will be priced more than $8,000 more than the LEAF.

In fact, more than a few of the well over 500 (and counting) folks who posted a comment to Lyle Dennis’ re-write of the GM press release on the Volt’s pricing on heavily trafficked GM-Volt.com were stating outright that, given the Volt’s considerably higher price tag, they would be bolting from the Volt to the LEAF.

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Meanwhile, the GM vice president for North America marketing was taking indirect pot shots at the LEAF in The New York Times, calling the Volt “a car that the average person can drive on a daily basis — not something that’s a unique little niche vehicle.”

[In case you missed it, that “little niche vehicle” is clearly the Nissan LEAF]

Yes, $41,000, even when chopped to $33,500 by a $7,500 Federal Tax Credit, is a substantial lump of cash. Too much for a large number of Americans, including us.

Pure electric will come first
Yes, we will likely be getting a LEAF, and we certainly will be getting a pure electric car before we add a plug-in hybrid to our two-car garage which, given its older inhabitants, a 1992 Acura Integra and a 1994 Toyota Camry, will need replacements within the next three to four years.

Yes, the all-electric LEAF is more attractive to us than the Volt because we can power it 100 percent with electricity generated by our new 5.59 kW home solar system.

nissan-leafAnd, yes, the $8,220 difference in price between the LEAF and the Volt just so happens to be exactly the same out-of-pocket cost that we paid for our 5.59 kW solar system, a system we’ve used to bank nearly 2,500 Sun Miles™ –solar-powered miles driven by an electric vehicle (EV) or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) whose batteries have been charged using solar energy — in a little over four weeks of being on line with it.

But I’m not one of those gleeful LEAF cheerleaders smirking as I read through comment after comment by Dennis’ extremely pro-Volt — and often very anti-LEAF – readers at GM-Volt.Com.

Let’s be done with LEAF vs. Volt already
The folks who have set up a LEAF vs. Volt battle, and who have dug in on one side or the other really don’t seem to quite get it.

They don’t get the fact that many households will include both a pure EV and an plug-in hybrid such as the Volt. They don’t get the fact that both cars are crucial to environmental progress in the U.S. and the world. They don’t get that there are enough interested people to create a healthy market for both the LEAF and the Volt (and the other pure electrics and plug-in hybrids due out soon).

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But most of all, they don’t seem to get the fact that LEAF folks and Volt folks really need to be on the same pro-plug-in team. There’s a lot of anti-plug-in sentiment out there — a ton, and, as ill-informed as it is – and, man, is it ever ill-informed – it has the potential to derail the entire plug-in express before it even gets off the ground.

Ignorant anti-plug-in comments abound
Take, for instance, some of the outrageous anti-Volt and anti-plug-in comments made in response to The New York Times blog piece on GM setting the Volt’s price at $41k.

  • “Another taxpayer bailout gone awry.”
  • “DOA. There are plenty of other cars out there that will save gas and are a lot less expensive. Plus, wait until you have to buy a battery; who’s shelling out $10,000? Dear America, take your hard earned money and place it somewhere else, you have been fleeced enough.”
  • “Wow $41K for a car that I can’t take on a multi-state trip!”
  • “You have to plug the cars into an electric outlet. Where do most companies get their electric power——coal fired generation plants. Does anyone reading this know if this type of car will provide any benefit to the environment? It would seem to me the electric power would have to come from nuclear, solar or wind power and it will not. Even if solor and wind power were where they hope to get it, it will only provide less than 5 percent of the nation’s energy needs–and thos two sources have to be subsidized by the government to make it cost effective just like the subsidies on the vehicles.”

These comments are the standard anti-plug-in fare that can be found in countless spots on the Internet:

“You’re plugging into a lump of coal”
Plug-ins wouldn’t make it without subsidizes, which, BTW, are a ‘waste of money’; they’re too expensive; they’re not practical (no matter that the Volt could go on a multi-state trip AND save the driver a lot of money in fuel costs); the inevitable “you’re plugging into a lump of coal” argument, which overlooks the great diversity of the U.S. electric grid; and, finally, the renewable energy + plug-ins can’t be done argument.

volt-to-rightIn fact, fossil fuels out-subsidize green energy 10 to 1 globally, plug-ins will save many people (especially solar-charged drivers) money in the long run (but no one ever looks at the long-term), there are plenty of great, clean places to plug into the electric grid in the U.S., especially the American Northwest, where about 80 percent of electricity comes from renewables, and, finally, renewable energy + electric cars can, and will be done – at first by thousands and eventually by millions of people in the U.S, and around the world.

But all of this doesn’t matter to the folks who, for a variety of reasons – including, it would seem, just plain stubborn resistance to anything new – are intent on shouting down plug-ins like the LEAF and the Volt and the incredible potential they offer the U.S. – and the world.

The world needs a LEAF and a Volt (and a Tesla Model S, and a Mitsubishi iMiev, and a CODA Automotive EV Sedan, etc.). And it needs you, me, and the other plug-in “guys” out there pushing for all plug-ins – for the betterment of our transportation infrastructure, for the betterment of the air we all breath, and for the betterment of life on earth in general.

When much of the world is against you and it’s harnessing ignorance to stop you, it makes a whole lot more sense for plug-in advocates and those cutting-edge plug-in consumers who might not necessarily see themselves as plug-in advocates to join forces and fight The (anti-EV) Man together rather than to waste energy bickering with each other.

Yes, the world needs a LEAF and a Volt (and a Tesla Model S, and a Mitsubishi iMiev, and a CODA Automotive EV Sedan, etc.). And it needs you, me, and the other plug-in “guys” out there pushing for all plug-ins – for the betterment of our transportation infrastructure, for the betterment of the air we all breath, and for the betterment of life on earth in general.

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