TMCNet:  Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt offer eco-friendly options [Aiken Standard, S.C.]

[January 23, 2011]

Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt offer eco-friendly options [Aiken Standard, S.C.]

(Aiken Standard (SC) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Jan. 23--The cars hailed as the future of eco-friendly automobiles -- the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt -- are coming to Aiken.

Though currently only available in major markets such as Atlanta, the Leaf is expected to hit Sunbelt Nissan in March; the Volt will be at Master Chevrolet Cadillac in the next 12 to 18 months. Both dealerships have reported several customers anxiously await their arrival.


There is a lot to be said for both cars, which have received numerous automotive awards between them, and generated quite a buzz in the industry.

Nissan Leaf The car is touted as the world's first all-electric, zero-emission car designed for the mass market. It does not burn a drop of gasoline.

"There is no gas tank and no exhaust pipe," said Mike Watson with Sunbelt Nissan. "It's about going green." A standard 120-volt power line is all that's needed to charge the car's 24 kWh battery with full capacity after about 10 hours of charging. Consumers can purchase a 240-volt line separately, which can charge the battery in as little as four hours.

The five-passenger Leaf can get on average 100 miles per charge (city) and reach speeds up to 90 miles per hour.

At a price of 10 cents per kWh, 100 miles of driving might cost as little as about $2.40 a day for electricity.

"The big thing is -- which hasn't been seen before -- is the on-board information to overcome range anxiety," Watson said. "The Leaf has a very sophisticated dash that will show you how many miles you have left on the charge." Temperature, speed and driving style are the biggest factors in determining how far you can get in the Leaf. The car's climate control system draws on the car's battery charge, and faster speeds require more energy to overcome wind resistance.

Ideal driving conditions, according to Nissan's website, are a constant speed of 38 miles per hour with an ambient temperature of 68 degrees, meaning there is no need to turn on the car's heat or air.

Under these conditions, the Leaf is estimated to get 138 miles per charge.

In a suburban stop-and-go traffic jam in winter, the Leaf is estimated to get only 62 miles per charge.

"If it fits your driving style and you have the opportunity to charge it overnight, it makes sense," Watson said. "We are excited about having it." Leafs with CARWINGS, an in-car telematics system, can be synchronized to its owner's smartphone allowing them, for instance, to set the cabin temperature to preheat or precool while the battery is plugged in and not drained.

To date, 20,000 people across the country have reserved a Leaf. Reservations will not open to the public again until 2012.

MSRP is around $32,000, and several federal and state tax credits are available.

Sunbelt Nissan can be reached at (706) 854-0000.

Chevrolet Volt Unlike the Leaf, the Volt runs on both an electric charge (EV) and gasoline.

Drivers can go 35 miles per charge on the battery before the car automatically kicks over to the gas-powered generator for an additional range of 340 miles.

Combined, the Volt can get an estimated 375 miles on a full charge and full tank of gas.

Like the Leaf, the Volt's 16 kWh battery can be charged using a standard 120-volt line with full capacity reached after about 10 hours.

Consumers can purchase a 240-volt line separately, which can charge the battery in as little as four hours.

And, also like the Leaf, the Volt's EV range "may be higher or lower than expected due to the driver's technique, the terrain and/or the outdoor temperature. In other words, driving and braking aggressively, driving in areas with large elevation changes or driving in extreme outdoor temperatures will impact the electric range capability," according to Chevrolet's website.

The Volt has two LCD screens that display speed, battery power and range to recharge or re-fill, as well as an efficiency gauge that gives real-time feedback.

"We have had a few people ask about it," said Wayne Morgan with Master Chevrolet Cadillac. "It has generated a good buzz for us. We are looking forward to having it sooner rather than later." At a price of 10 cents per kWh, 35 miles of driving might cost as little as about $1.60 a day for electricity.

The Volt will also be synchronized to its owner's smartphone through the OnStar MyLink app. Information on the battery charge level, available range, remote lock and unlock and remote heat and air will be available with just a few taps.

The Volt was named the 2011 North American Car of the Year at the North American Auto Show in Detroit, Mich.

The Volt has been launched in seven markets in limited quantities. Distribution will be complete in all 50 states in the next 12 to 18 months, but those who wish to place an order now can contact Master Chevrolet Cadillac at 649-6236.

MSRP is about $40,000, and several federal and state tax credits are available.

Electric car chargers Mike Watson with Sunbelt Nissan believes as the demand for electric cars increases, so will the involvement of private enterprise.

Sunbelt Nissan will invest in its site and install electric chargers. Nissan announced it is partnering with Cracker Barrel Old Country Store to install electric-vehicle chargers at 24 of the chain's restaurants in Tennessee.

Plug-In Carolina, a nonprofit founded in Charleston by Jim Poch, is working to install 80 chargers in public spaces across the state to coincide with the release of Leaf and Chevrolet Volt. The project is possible with the help of two grants from the S.C. Energy Office totaling $480,000 and with support from utility companies, including SCE&G in the Midlands, Santee Cooper in the Lowcountry and Duke Energy in the Upstate.

Local governments in Columbia, Greenville, Charleston, Conway, Myrtle Beach, Spartanburg, Rock Hill and Union each plan to install the charging stations, according to The State newspaper.

Aiken County Administrator Clay Killian said that, currently, there are no plans to install electric charging stations in Aiken County.

Breakout Leaf -- Zero emissions vehicle -- Range 100 miles per charge (city) -- 24kWh lithium-ion battery -- Five-passenger seating -- Front UV-reducing solar glass -- Fear spoiler -- Bluetooth hands-free phone system -- AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system with MP3/WMA playback capability -- USB connection port for iPod interface and other compatible devices -- Nissan Navigation System with 7-inch color display Volt -- Battery range 35 miles -- Gas-powered generator range 340 miles -- 16kWh lithium-ion battery -- 1.4L internal combustion engine (80 hp) -- Five-passenger seating -- Rear spoiler -- 7-inch diagonal LCD touch screen -- Bluetooth wireless technology -- USB port -- Audio system with navigation, XM Radio, DVD and MP3 playback capability, includes voice recognition To see more of the Aiken Standard or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.aikenstandard.com/.

Copyright (c) 2011, Aiken Standard, S.C.

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