Electric Cars

Questions & Responses:
Chevy Volt - Is it a good car? Buy or lease?(3 responses)
Advice about home charger for electric vehicle(0 responses)
Archived Responses: 

Electric car?

Aug 2015

Hi, all -- my husband and I are in the early stages of evaluating our options for second car and are trying to decide whether we can swing an all-electric. I'm interested in reviews from people who have a Leaf or a Volt (or others?) -- what has your experience been in terms of feasibility/manageability in the Bay Area? If we did it we would probably attempt to coincide with installation of solar panels to avoid just transposing the carbon footprint to PG&E... but I'm not sure about range. Is there a rapid falloff from the 80-mile radius over time (thinking of computer batteries here)? How long does it really take to charge? What about get-up-and-go on the highway? Would love to hear about your experience -- thanks! Hannah

I've had my 2014 Volt since last October, and I love it. Has plenty of pep, fun to drive, and REALLY quiet. Worst problem is large side-rear blind spots--I was told by a friend to be sure and get the back-up camera option for visibility and safety. I do much of my driving around Berkeley/Oakland, essentially all on the battery--mine goes approximately 40 miles on a charge. And I love that it can shift to gas when I'm going further, so there is no range limitation. But overall my ''mileage'' is 119 miles per gallon. I have solar panels so feel like I'm using clean energy--but the calculations I've seen show that even with PG&E electricity, electric cars are better for decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. My electricity use has gone up about 150kwh per month. I try to charge only at off-peak hours-- you won't save nearly as much if you are paying peak rates (on time of use) or high tier rates. I didn't bother getting a fast charging station --you can set the Volt to charge at a higher power on a regular circuit, so the car charges overnight, even if the battery is totally out. I also was already on Time of Use for my solar panels, so didn't go on the electric vehicle rate. never thought I would have a cool car...

We've had a Leaf for 15 months and really like it. It drives like any other car - highway acceleration is no problem. The range is still the same (and closer to 100 miles, if you believe the dashboard - depends on speed), but we're only 15 months in. We have another vehicle for longer drives to places we can't charge, but use the Leaf as a family on most weekends, and for a commute daily. We generally charge overnight (offpeak), but I believe we can charge about 25 percent in an hour with a 220v charge.

I have a Nissan Leaf. It's been wonderful for daily use. The only issue is road trips, because of the short range and how long charging takes. But otherwise the Bay Area is a great place for it. You do have to do a little more planning around car usage. I recommend looking at some common routes you take and seeing if there are charging stations nearby. http://www.plugshare.com/ If the battery is completely empty, charging takes about 21 hrs with a regular 120 V outlet, and about 2.5 hrs with a 240 V charger (this is what you would use at public charging stations - you can also get a charging station installed in your house but it costs). (There are Quick Chargers now which can charge your battery to 80% full in about half an hour, but they are not everywhere.) I will just add that, at least for us, the car is rarely completely empty. So normally I plug it into the outlet in our garage when I get home from work, or even later like 10 or 11 at night, and it's ready to go in the morning. My car is 2 years old and I haven't noticed any change in the charging range. ''Get up and go'' on the highway is great. The Leaf has an ''eco'' mode (turned on and off with a button) which uses less energy and gives you a little less accelerating power, but in the regular mode especially it has great acceleration. It feels like a regular car. Electric Mama

I have a 2012 Volt and commute to the South Bay from El Cerrito. Because all electric vehicles like the Leaf would not get me to work and back, the Volt was a nice option. I used to drive a Prius, which seemed a bit lightweight and the Volt is definitely a heavier, stronger car. I can get about 48 miles from a charge (which takes 10 hours in a regular 110 volt plug) driving on the freeway. It is extremely handy to have the gas back up since I do not get a full charge while I am at work. A huge benefit is being able to drive in the carpool lane and this saves me time on the commute. A couple of drawbacks: there are only four seats vs. five and when you switch from electricity to gas, the car starts to have this kind of loud rumbling sound. Overall though, the Volt fits the bill until I can get an all electric car that is less expensive than a Tesla. Happy Volt Owner

Electric Car Charging Port

July 2011

Hi, I would love to hear about people's experience installing a charging port at home. I'm thinking about getting a Leaf and have concerns regarding the ability to install a home charging station because our house has no garage and no driveway. Thanks. Andrea

Larry Giustino of A1 Sun has been working in solar for 30 years (he installed my friend's solar array), and he is now installing charging stations for Leaf and Volt. I've heard him give presentations about solar. He's very knowledgeable, but can explain things very directly and simply -- so he's a good source of info. Lory


Looking to buy an electric car

June 2005

I'm looking to buy an electric car, the plug in kind, not a hybrid. Any experiences or info appreciated. We have recently put a solar electric system on our roof. We hope to use our own solar powered electrcity to run around town and stop buying gas. Kathleen

There is a website ''ev finder'' that has listings for all sorts of electric vehicles and accessories. Lnd