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Poll: Chevrolet Volt takes on Nissan Leaf

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Filed under: Sedan, Hatchback, Chevrolet, GM, Nissan, Electric

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Proving once again the old adage that there's more than one way to skin a cat battery, Chevrolet and Nissan have each designed new eco-friendly vehicles that are set to go head-to-head for sales supremacy starting at the end of this year. Though both automakers arrive at the same basic anti-gasoline (at least to a large extent) result, the Volt and the Leaf differ in more ways than they are alike.

We'll start with the drivetrain. While the Volt and Leaf are both technically electric cars, Chevrolet's solution to the range problem includes the addition of a small gasoline-fueled engine capable of recharging the Volt's onboard battery pack. There's enough battery capacity to travel at least 40 miles before the generator kicks in, but there's no limit to the range after the engine takes over.

Nissan's Leaf, on the other hand, has a somewhat larger battery that the automaker claims will allow for 100 miles of range per charge. After that, there is simply no more forward progress to be had until the Leaf is plugged into an outlet for a few hours - at least. But if going 100-percent gasoline free is your goal, this is your ride.

And then we have the body styles and shapes. Both cars spent plenty of time in the wind tunnel, with extremely different results. The Volt sports a more traditional sedan-like shape and offers seating for four. The Leaf, on the other hand, has a bit of an out-there look to its basic hatchback design and boasts seating for five.

Pricing too is a bit divergent. Nissan has affixed a $32,780 sticker to its electric car, before federal or state incentives. That price will drop to the mid-$20s when a $7,500 tax credit is applied. The General is making its Volt a bit more dear with a $41,000 asking price that drops to $33,500 after the credit. Interestingly, both automakers will offer leases for $350 per month for 36 months.

So, the big question is: Which electric car do you think is the better buy? Make yourself heard in our (totally unscientific) poll below.

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Poll: Chevrolet Volt takes on Nissan Leaf originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 27 Jul 2010 19:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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The Volt can be a primary car and does not have range limitations, the Leaf is limited by its batteries and therefore cannot be a car you can live with without needed a second car for trips.

On a more subjective not, I really dislike how the Leaf looks...like a blob with a saggy butt and bug eyed headlights. The Volt is far better looking.

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Not really an apples-to-apples comparison; that's the preproduction Volt with concept wheels, mirrors, stance, and cutlines. But, yeah, the Volt looks better than the Leaf.

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Either would work for my commute but I'm in a highrise condo so no electric car for me. No matter, the price premium is too much to save $1000 in gas a year.

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The Volt can be a primary car and does not have range limitations, the Leaf is limited by its batteries and therefore cannot be a car you can live with without needed a second car for trips.

The Leaf can be the primary car for the vast majority of Americans. ~80% of commuters go less than 40 miles/day. Therefore the Leaf's 100 miles will satisfy more than 80% of daily commuters. On average there are just under 2 cars per US household, so the "occasional long trip" is also already covered for the vast majority of Americans.

Not only that, for the price differential of a Leaf VS a Volt you can rent a Ferrari or a Porsche for your longer trips, or use the money to buy half of a second car. :)

Also, it is time to stop ignoring all the LIMITATIONS that come with the Volt as a result of the design. Much higher cost to purchase, operate, maintain and a low production volume are the tradeoffs.

Edited by GXT
  • Upvote 1

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The Leaf can be the primary car for the vast majority of Americans. ~80% of commuters go less than 40 miles/day. Therefore the Leaf's 100 miles will satisfy more than 80% of daily commuters. On average there are just under 2 cars per US household, so the "occasional long trip" is also already covered for the vast majority of Americans.

Not only that, for the price differential of a Leaf VS a Volt you can rent a Ferrari or a Porsche for your longer trips, or use the money to buy half of a second car. :)

Also, it is time to stop ignoring all the LIMITATIONS that come with the Volt as a result of the design. Much higher cost to purchase, operate, maintain and a low production volume are the tradeoffs.

Yeah because I want to to pay the extra insurance on a second car, oh and find the extra parking space for one, and the extra taxes. Volt would suit me much better because while most of my week is less than 40 mile per day commuting, I travele 130 miles for weekly meetings. So I'd need to buy a second car or rent one every time I needed to do this if I bought the Leaf. :rolleyes:

Then I'd have to look at the thing every time I looked in my driveway. :yuck:

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The key to the Volt is marketing this car right.

Marketing this car needs to be done like Apple has with the I Phone and I Pad. Make a good product but really make it also a trend that says you are on the leading edge. People today love to have the newest technology even if they do not need it.

The Volt is more than about saving the eviroment or gas with many people. It is more about look at me and I have the newest and latest technology. GM needs to take advantage of that since these people are not the ones that count dollars.

To the people who may have an interest in less gas and enviromental impact they can sell this as a car you can live with daily no matter what your needs. The Leaf will have it's limitations and they need to exploit that.

GM only has to show two drivers leaving LA for San Deigo and then Show the Volt making the full trip and the Leaf on the charger. This is what will connect with most realistic buyers.

This care will not kill GM money wise but it could hurt it rep wise if it fails to connect. Also it needs to be durable with few if any recalls. If it does have any they need to be proactive on them and take care of these buyers.

The numbers to be sold are low and they should sell out. The key is to keep the numbers growing as you improve the technology and lower the price.

THe fact that this car look good for this class of car. It also is a car a average person could live with and the fact you could drive it anytime anywhere will make it the top choice of those who want a car like this.

The bottom line is this will not be GM's top seller. It is not a car for everyone and nore should it be. In time and as technology evolves we will see more average people getting into alturnitive cars.

But right now GM needs to sell why this car is better for the normal owner and be proactive on any issues then they will be fine.

This car is about image not so much about making money.

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Also, it is time to stop ignoring all the LIMITATIONS that come with the Volt as a result of the design. Much higher cost to purchase, operate, maintain and a low production volume are the tradeoffs.

The bottom line is that most can live with the lkimitations you have listed. What they can't live with is the fact you tell them they can't drive to the concert, race or aunt Martha's house that is 200 miles away in a short period of time.

Americans seldom count money over limitations. You restrict them in any way they and they refuse the restriction. We are not a country of you can't do that types.

Just look at the kids who run down their Nintendo DS video games and can't wait for a full charge ands play with the cord in the wall. Also the people with digital camera's who run down a battery only to carry an extra to keep going Sorry but driving a Leaf plugged in or changing a battery is not an option. These limitations piss the average person off.

How about showing in a TV spot a Leaf dead on the road and a Volt owner picks up the driver to take him where he is going. On the way the Leaf owner finds the Volt owner live near his home and was making the same trip. This is what connects to people. Failure to arrive is failure period.

If done right GM could have some fun with the marketing here. Even one based on looks.

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Yeah because I want to to pay the extra insurance on a second car, oh and find the extra parking space for one, and the extra taxes. Volt would suit me much better because while most of my week is less than 40 mile per day commuting, I travele 130 miles for weekly meetings. So I'd need to buy a second car or rent one every time I needed to do this if I bought the Leaf. :rolleyes:

Then I'd have to look at the thing every time I looked in my driveway. :yuck:

So you are one of the people for which neither vehicle really makes sense. For the approx. $20,000 ($12,500 with rebate) premium over a Prius you will save ~200 gallons/year of fuel and pay an extra ~$300 in electricity.

But you may save a fair amount of stress on your eyes.

All I am saying is that the Leaf is actually going to make more sense for more people than the Volt. Just because the Volt COULD be almost anyone's primary car, that doesn't mean that almost everyone doesn't have a BETTER choice. The Leaf, on the other hand, might actually be the best choice for a sizable portion of the population.

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On a more subjective not, I really dislike how the Leaf looks...like a blob with a saggy butt and bug eyed headlights. The Volt is far better looking.

In this case I think that could be an objective statement. Uglier than a Yaris... while trying to imitate an Yaris?

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The bottom line is that most can live with the lkimitations you have listed. What they can't live with is the fact you tell them they can't drive to the concert, race or aunt Martha's house that is 200 miles away in a short period of time.

Americans seldom count money over limitations. You restrict them in any way they and they refuse the restriction. We are not a country of you can't do that types.

Just look at the kids who run down their Nintendo DS video games and can't wait for a full charge ands play with the cord in the wall. Also the people with digital camera's who run down a battery only to carry an extra to keep going Sorry but driving a Leaf plugged in or changing a battery is not an option. These limitations piss the average person off.

How about showing in a TV spot a Leaf dead on the road and a Volt owner picks up the driver to take him where he is going. On the way the Leaf owner finds the Volt owner live near his home and was making the same trip. This is what connects to people. Failure to arrive is failure period.

If done right GM could have some fun with the marketing here. Even one based on looks.

I think you are once again being selective on your restrictions. $41,000 is a big restriction. Probably bigger than the "I might need to go on a random trip on such short order that I can't book alternate travel or use the other car I have in the garage".

What will be interesting is to see how long it takes people to realize that what we view as limitations really aren't something that should "piss us off".

For example I don't own a truck or a mini-van. But by your argument I really should own both in case I suddenly need to haul something or carry 6 passengers. I also like to fill my tank well before I hit 50 miles range remaining. But I don't NEED to.

Or to put it another way, the Volt must be a non-option for people because it can only haul 3 passengers and that would piss the average person off.

BMW found in their Mini EV study that range anxiety wasn't really an issue. The question is how long will it take Americans to realize that, and how much effort is GM going to put into convincing everyone else otherwise? If GM spends a lot of effort trying to convince people not to buy an EV they are going to come off looking very bad indeed.

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I think you are once again being selective on your restrictions. $41,000 is a big restriction. Probably bigger than the "I might need to go on a random trip on such short order that I can't book alternate travel or use the other car I have in the garage".

What will be interesting is to see how long it takes people to realize that what we view as limitations really aren't something that should "piss us off".

For example I don't own a truck or a mini-van. But by your argument I really should own both in case I suddenly need to haul something or carry 6 passengers. I also like to fill my tank well before I hit 50 miles range remaining. But I don't NEED to.

Or to put it another way, the Volt must be a non-option for people because it can only haul 3 passengers and that would piss the average person off.

BMW found in their Mini EV study that range anxiety wasn't really an issue. The question is how long will it take Americans to realize that, and how much effort is GM going to put into convincing everyone else otherwise? If GM spends a lot of effort trying to convince people not to buy an EV they are going to come off looking very bad indeed.

On people hauling 6 people is a whole different issue vs this.

Trying to sell someone a car for $32H-35K and telling them you can not go more than 100 miles in optmum conditions and not get home is not the same as telling them Tad and Buffy can go with us today.

The Volt is not going to be a car for everyone and GM made that plain from the start. The Lead also is not car for everyone. The fact still boils down no matter how you spin it that the Volt will have a better greneral appal to the public vs the Leaf just based on the fact it is more like a normal car.

The Volt is not out to replace the entire fleet but to make this kind of car acceptable to more people like me who do not want a golf cart.

In time these cars will decrease in price and increase in range. This is the Chicken and Egg. If you do not build them they will never improve or come down in price. The first Home Computers were no different. Once on the market and the pubic accpeted them they came down in price, inproved in performance and quality.

The bottom line for the Leaf is 50% of the market will find the Volt appealing based on how it works and Less than 25% will like the leaf [sight unseen]. The buyers will be a part of these groups and the price will sort it out from there.

I feel Nissan is getting a free pass. If GM had come out with a car that only went 100 MPG on a good day and looked like the Leaf at $32K-35K the press would take them to task for it.

Neither car is the final answer only the first.

The bottom line is not that the Volt could be someones only car, the fact is it can be where the Leaf for the price would suit few peoples only car needs.

All I can say is I hope the towing companys know how to hook em because there will be a lot of dead Leafs along the road where owners just push them too far in desperation.

Now if Nissan could get this car to do 300 miles on a charge one could start to make a case but not at 100 miles or less.

People scream now if you limit there speed and other things in a car.

Edited by hyperv6

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I think you are once again being selective on your restrictions. $41,000 is a big restriction. Probably bigger than the "I might need to go on a random trip on such short order that I can't book alternate travel or use the other car I have in the garage".

Hypothetical situation:

Bob commutes 35 miles to work, and is not able to plug in while at work. The Leaf seems to make sense, as long as he has another car at home for longer trips, right?

4 o'clock rolls around, and Bob gets a call from a buddy. "Hey, you wanna meet up after work & grab a bite to eat at that new restaurant across town?"

"No, sorry, I don't have enough battery left, I might get stranded."

The Volt doesn't make financial sense, but at least you aren't leashed to your home with it. Yes, it can make sense for some people with relatively short commutes, or that can plug in at work, and have another car. But you're so freaking in love with the car that you seem completely blind to just how restrictive the car is. The only restriction with the Volt is cost, and the early adopters won't balk much at that, especially with big honkin' tax credits.

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The opportunities for "oh $h!" moments are limitless with the Leaf, and each one is an eight-hour delay in getting back on track.

This is a no-brainer for any serious intender in this market. The Volt is an EV you can actually rely on, not so the Leaf.

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The LEAF is ideal for people who primarily don't use their car for commuting, but instead have a monthly bus pass. It's for people who take public transit to work, but then to need to run to Target and the Grocery store twice a week and maybe a Saturday evening visit to the movies.

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The Volt doesn't make financial sense, but at least you aren't leashed to your home with it. Yes, it can make sense for some people with relatively short commutes, or that can plug in at work, and have another car. But you so freaking hate the Volt that you seem completely blind to just how restrictive the Leaf is. The only restriction with the Volt is cost, and the early adopters won't balk much at that, especially with big honkin' tax credits.

And if you lease Volt there is practically no price difference between the leaf and Volt.

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Neither would make much sense for me...for $32k (or 41k) I'd want something much larger and with at least a 6. For my current 50 mile round trip commute, a 4500lb SUV that gets 18mpg works fine.

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The LEAF is ideal for people who primarily don't use their car for commuting, but instead have a monthly bus pass. It's for people who take public transit to work, but then to need to run to Target and the Grocery store twice a week and maybe a Saturday evening visit to the movies.

So if you have no life and don't care what your car looks like the Leaf is the car. LOL!

Neither would make much sense for me...for $32k (or 41k) I'd want something much larger and with at least a 6. For my current 50 mile round trip commute, a 4500lb SUV that gets 18mpg works fine.

That is why GM did not gear up to sell 250,000 units per year. The Volt even though it has a wider appeal is still not a car for everyone.

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Hypothetical situation:

Bob commutes 35 miles to work, and is not able to plug in while at work. The Leaf seems to make sense, as long as he has another car at home for longer trips, right?

4 o'clock rolls around, and Bob gets a call from a buddy. "Hey, you wanna meet up after work & grab a bite to eat at that new restaurant across town?"

"No, sorry, I don't have enough battery left, I might get stranded."

The Volt doesn't make financial sense, but at least you aren't leashed to your home with it. Yes, it can make sense for some people with relatively short commutes, or that can plug in at work, and have another car. But you're so freaking in love with the car that you seem completely blind to just how restrictive the car is. The only restriction with the Volt is cost, and the early adopters won't balk much at that, especially with big honkin' tax credits.

Good example. I can not count how many times a short trip I have had has turned into a trip to get something to eat in the next state just on a whim. Or chasing parts at a shop that does not have it but one 75 miles away has it. In a Volt I go get it and in a Leaf I go home to either get another car or a Greyhound ticket. I Guess I could also get a hotel room.

Even commuting in large cities like LA 100 miles can get past just with a driver accross town.

I would recomend the road test in Motortend on the Hyrdogen Powered Nox. They loved the car but hated the fact they did not know if they could get to a refueling point before they ran out. THat was just in LA.

The will I get there and still make it home Angziety is never a good thing to instill in a customer who has bought your product. I wouls still take even a Prius over the Leaf.

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Hypothetical situation:

Bob commutes 35 miles to work, and is not able to plug in while at work. The Leaf seems to make sense, as long as he has another car at home for longer trips, right?

4 o'clock rolls around, and Bob gets a call from a buddy. "Hey, you wanna meet up after work & grab a bite to eat at that new restaurant across town?"

"No, sorry, I don't have enough battery left, I might get stranded."

The Volt doesn't make financial sense, but at least you aren't leashed to your home with it. Yes, it can make sense for some people with relatively short commutes, or that can plug in at work, and have another car. But you're so freaking in love with the car that you seem completely blind to just how restrictive the car is. The only restriction with the Volt is cost, and the early adopters won't balk much at that, especially with big honkin' tax credits.

Great example.

I don't know if he loves the Leaf or not, he just hates the Volt, has since the concept debuted. He trolls the Volt threads pretty hardcore and not much else.

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Imagine if they had a Leaf car club and they did a Saturn like national get meets.

They could never do it as they would run out of vacation days before they all got there after all the recharges.

I guess they could always hire car haulers to take them there.

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The Leaf can be the primary car for the vast majority of Americans. ~80% of commuters go less than 40 miles/day. Therefore the Leaf's 100 miles will satisfy more than 80% of daily commuters. On average there are just under 2 cars per US household, so the "occasional long trip" is also already covered for the vast majority of Americans.

Not only that, for the price differential of a Leaf VS a Volt you can rent a Ferrari or a Porsche for your longer trips, or use the money to buy half of a second car. :)

Also, it is time to stop ignoring all the LIMITATIONS that come with the Volt as a result of the design. Much higher cost to purchase, operate, maintain and a low production volume are the tradeoffs.

I agree, and good points. Both cars have limitations over traditional gas powered cars. But if gas free driving/no pollution is your goal, the Leaf offers a better capability to do that. And since the Leaf is about $8,000 less, and probably costs less to run, you could just rent a car for once or twice a year you take a driving vacation, or buy a plane ticket with the money saved.

But for me, I'd buy a conventional gas car over either one.

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Hypothetical situation:

Bob commutes 35 miles to work, and is not able to plug in while at work. The Leaf seems to make sense, as long as he has another car at home for longer trips, right?

4 o'clock rolls around, and Bob gets a call from a buddy. "Hey, you wanna meet up after work & grab a bite to eat at that new restaurant across town?"

"No, sorry, I don't have enough battery left, I might get stranded."

The Volt doesn't make financial sense, but at least you aren't leashed to your home with it. Yes, it can make sense for some people with relatively short commutes, or that can plug in at work, and have another car. But you're so freaking in love with the car that you seem completely blind to just how restrictive the car is. The only restriction with the Volt is cost, and the early adopters won't balk much at that, especially with big honkin' tax credits.

But GM's own research shows how 80% of people drive 40 miles a day or less. So the Leaf fits more than 80% of the driving public, which is a very good percentage. Obviously it doesn't appeal to the number of buyers a Camry does, but I don't think it is as limiting as many make it out to be.

The Volt doesn't make financial sense, that is the problem with it. Everyone is saying how with the Volt, you can just put gas in it, so if you plan to run it on gas, why not just buy a Cruze and save $20,000. $20,000 buys 10 years of gas in a Cruze, seems like a better plan. Or spend the $40k on a CTS or MKZ hybrid or something that is a nice car at least, and then buy gas for that.

Both these cars will have fans, and both will find some buyers, but I think both are going to struggle to sell.

Edited by smk4565

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