The car revolution will be electrified
With both Chevy and Nissan rolling out new electric models on B.C. roads this fall, Lynda Steele got behind the wheel for a first-hand look at what's new on the green automotive scene.
Behind the wheel of Chevy's new electric offering, the Volt, it's whisper quiet, almost like gliding on butter.
Using the battery alone, the Volt can travel between 40 and 80 kilometres on a single charge, depending on how you drive and whether you use air conditioning or other battery-sucking features. When the charge is low, you can flip over to the gas engine for a total extended range of 500 kilometres.
Volt expert Leah Bolton said the car is good to drive to Kelowna on a single charge.
"I can stop there, put a little gas in to keep it generated without plugging it in and I can go all the way to Calgary. This is a game changer. It's the only extended range vehicle on the road," Bolton said.
At a base sticker price of $41,500, the Volt has just rolled into the B.C. market and is showing up at charge stations around the Vancouver area. It takes 10 hours to fully charge on a 120 volt outlet.
"Can you imagine if you were driving from here to the Fraser Valley every day commuting? The money you would save would be amazing," said Bolton.
The Volt has competition this fall from the all-electric Nissan Leaf, which is so green that 95 per cent of the car itself is made from recycled materials.
The fabric for the car seats is even made up of recycled plastic water bottles.
Starting at just over $38,000, the Leaf has an average range of 160 kilometres.
"It takes some getting used to because you keep thinking it's not really on," Leaf expert Neetika Sathe said.
It takes 17 hours to charge at 120 volts. Nissan says if you drive 20,000 kilometres a year it will cost you $300 in electricity bills. The Leaf will even send an email to your iPhone if its charge is running low and tell you where the nearest recharging stations are.
"This is a groundbreaking car," said Sathe.
"It's a 100 per cent electric car. It doesn't have any tailpipe emissions. In fact, it doesn't even have a tailpipe -- not a drop of gasoline in this car."
Both the Leaf and the Chevy Volt have an eight year, 160,000 kilometre warranty on their batteries.
The Volt Lynda test drove has already been sold in Vancouver and its owner is apparently applying to his strata board to have a power outlet installed in his condo parkade.
The Volt and Leaf are going to have lots of competition next year when Mitsubishi, Toyota and Ford all plan to introduce new electric cars in Canada. A new electric Smart Car is expected to hit the Canadian market next fall as well.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Lynda Steele