The future of personal transportation is yet to be determined, but several companies have made a push towards determining that future. With the release of two new plug-in electric vehicles an electric future is gaining some momentum. The recent releases of the Chevrolet Volt and the Nissan Leaf are showing that electric vehicles can play a meaningful role in our future personal transportation needs. The company that I work for, NV Energy, has recently purchased several Volts and Leafs and so far the reviews have been quite good.
I have found both of these vehicles to be every bit as comfortable as any compact sedan that I have driven, and I have also found the performance to be very comparable. When we think about driving anything other than a gasoline fueled vehicle we tend to think of something that lacks power and is slow and unresponsive. That is not the case with either of these electric vehicles as both drives very comparably to a gasoline powered vehicle.
The primary advantage to an electric infrastructure is that vehicle charging can be done during non-peak hours allowing electric generation to be provided on a more consistent basis throughout each twenty four hour period, reducing the need to add generation facilities. While the Leaf is rated to have a range of 62 to 138 miles, Nissan admits that the high end of this range would be for ideal circumstances, our experience has shown that while running some form of climate control and playing the radio, a user could reasonable expect to achieve a range in the lower end of this estimate, but for the average person commuting around town, this would be quite acceptable. For the Volt you can expect a shorter all electric range, 35 miles, but this unit offers and extended range application that allows the unit to travel up to 375 miles using an alternative gasoline motor which charges the batteries.
My experience with both of these plug-in electric vehicles has been very positive. The technologies applied to these vehicles bring a comparable driving experience to that of a gasoline powered engine while offering a clean and efficient alternative. The average commuter could expect their daily commute to be fueled entirely by electricity provided by plugging the vehicle in while they slept. The future of electricity has clearly taken a step forward.