Tesla, Chevrolet, Nissan jumpstart electric vehicle market

by | April 22, 2013 | in A Closer Look | No Comments

Screen Shot 2013-04-08 at 5.03.27 PMChevy. Nissan. Tesla. These are all car manufacturers who have brought 100% electric, clean energy vehicles to America’s roads, and they may be ushering in a new age of battery powered automobiles.

With fuel prices rising to a current high of $4.41 per gallon in Bay Area cities, the decision to buy a car that is not reliant on fossil fuels seems to be the most viable way to keep hard-earned money in the consumer’s pocket.

Chevrolet released their Volt in December of 2010 and has since produced close to 50,000 units. The Volt uses a combination of battery and combustion engine. It is battery pack provides for a energy only range of about 40 miles, which is more than 78% of drivers travel in a day, according to gm-volt.com.

“My husband and I were initially introduced to the Chevy Volt at an A’s game, it was a promo on the big screen. We bought one shortly afterward,” librarian Susan Stutzman said, “I love [the Volt], it is like being in a little golf cart. I really think it is great that the electric car has comeback after being rejected by many of the big companies years ago.”

Nissan launched its Leaf in December of 2010. Because the Leaf is entirely electric with no combustion engine or motor, it gives off no greenhouse gases where many hybrids such as the Prius still generate emissions. The Leaf was given an EPA estimate 99 electric miles per gallon, with its range being a total of 73 miles according to nissanusa.com.

“Every time I drive [the Leaf] it tells me how many trees I have saved,” senior Claire Kingston said. “I think it is really important to realize that the resources we have on Earth are limited. I see more electric and hybrid cars as well as solar panels in Piedmont than in most places in the Bay Area.”

Tesla Motors was the first automobile company to utilize a lithium-ion battery in a car. The Tesla Roadster was groundbreaking in the field of zero emissions vehicles and immediately after the first car produced by Tesla was released, major car manufacturers like GM began work on lithium-ion batteries for their energy efficient vehicles.

“Reducing emissions in the short term was part of the reason [I bought a Tesla], but more important to me was supporting a new entrant in the auto industry that has a real vision for the future,” Piedmont resident Vince Monical said. “The traditional auto manufacturers are set in their ways and just have not had the drive to innovate on battery technology, performance, or in-car experience.”

Monical said that he heard good things about the Leaf and was looking for an experience upgrade from his Prius.

“Someone should buy [the Tesla] because it is a better car,” Monical said. “It won Motor Trend car of the year for a lot of reasons. If you do not need your car for long trips, Tesla beats its competition in just about every performance and in-car experience category.”

Monical said, “On top of [its performance], you can help move the auto industry forward, and drive an amazing car, and even amaze your kids for a change,” Monical said, “Tesla took on some hard engineering challenges and delivered.”

Monical says he thinks there will be a nice growing base of electric vehicles for the next five to 10 years. Batteries will become more efficient, and the performance improvements for EVs will outpace internal combustion.

“A lot of times it takes a startup like Tesla to wake up the industry and get them focused. Finally, this car has insane performance, looks amazing, and gets me in the HOV lane.” Monical said.