Friday, March 8, 2013

2013 Nissan Leaf EV [First Drive]

Are Electric cars ready for mainstream America?    The 2013 Nissan Leaf brings EVs one step closer to your front door.

Nissan, VW, Toyota, and Chevrolet now have EVs in dealer showrooms and more manufacturers have plans to release EVs in the near future.  Efforts are also underway to create a network of quick charging stations.   Make no mistake, electric vehicles are becoming more prevalent and prices are falling.

The 2013 Nissan Leaf fell into my hands via the Drive Sunshine Institute, a non-profit with a mission to speed the adoption of electric vehicles by staging test drives.   With a base price below $30,000 and tax incentives worth up to 50% of the price, the Leaf is starting to look like a savvy transportation option.

The upside?    Handling and performance similar to any modern, gasoline powered, small car.    It's not exciting, but it'll get you there nicely.   For short trips, the Leaf offers room for four, a couple of sets of clubs, and near silent propulsion.  My initial impression is of high build quality and I'm gald to hear it's assembled in Tennessee.   The price is right and Nissan is even willing to lease you the vehicle for $200 a month.   Now, that's affordable.

The downside?    A range of only 75 miles.