Which EV should you buy?

So the numbers are in for the Chevrolet Volt, with GM confirming July 27 that it would be priced at $41,000 (€31,456) - but which EV is right for you?

The Volt is priced at somewhat of a premium to the Nissan LEAF, which is due for release at around the same time priced at $32,780 (€24,450), and is likely to be more expensive or on par with the Mitsubishi iMiEV (although pricing hasn't been confirmed for the US yet, the iMiEV is more expensive than the LEAF in both Japan and Europe).

The first consideration for customers is that, at least in the beginning, they will be limited by launch markets. Both the Volt and the LEAF will launch in the US in late 2010 (December for the LEAF), the Volt in California, New York, Michigan, Connecticut, Texas, New Jersey and the Washington D.C. area and the LEAF in California, Washington, Oregon, Arizona and Tennessee.

The Mitsubishi iMiEV will arrive in mainland Europe in late 2010 (reportedly rebadged the Peugeot iOn and the Citroen C-Zero) and the United Kingdom on January 1, 2011, while the Nissan LEAF will be available in December in the Netherlands and Portugal, and February in the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

Both the Mitsubishi iMiEV and the Nissan LEAF are already on sale in Japan, and the iMiEV is on sale in Hong Kong, its first launch market after Japan.

For electric vehicle owners, range is likely to be one of the biggest purchasing factors, and here the Volt, as an extended-range vehicle, has the edge.

Because it incorporates a small gas engine that can charge the batteries on the fly, it can deliver a "real world" range of 547 km, much further than the all-electric LEAF's 160 km and the iMiEV's 129 km.

Although speed is unlikely to be a concern for any EV owners (apart from fans of EV sports car maker Tesla, perhaps), the Volt again comes first with a top speed of 100 mph (161km/h) against the LEAF's 90 mph (145 km/h) and the iMiEV's 81 mph (130 km/h).

For impatient buyers, charging time is likely to be an issue, although with high-capacity chargers, it can be dramatically reduced.

Most users are likely to charge at home - General Motors claims the Volt takes "about ten hours" on a standard (US) 120 volt outlet and four hours with a 240 volt outlet, Nissan says the LEAF will charge in about eight hours with a 240V (European standard) charger, Mitsubishi says six hours with a 240 volt charger.

Global EV Pricing (confirmed figures, before incentives)

Region Chevrolet Volt Mitsubishi iMiEV Nissan Leaf
Europe Unconfirmed £38,669 £28,350/€34,995 (ROI and Portugual)/€32,839 (Netherlands)
Japan Unconfirmed ¥3.98 million ¥3.76 million
USA $41,000 Unconfirmed





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