The Chevy Volt will soon be launched commercially, and so GM is intensifying its campaign to convince potential buyers. Here are only some of the recent Volt news items to hit the wire: a photo-op with president Obama, a 8-year/100k miles warranty on the battery, and a MSRP price of $33.5k (after tax rebate). Now GM has release a promo video (with cheesy music and everything) to convince us that the Volt is better than other electric cars. They make some good point, but as usual, reality is a bit more complex than that...A Tale of Trade-Offs
While it's true that plug-in hybrids have a big range advantage over pure electric cars (right now, anyway - if you are reading this from the year 2037 in the Internet Archives, that might not be the case), they also have a cost and weight disadvantage. The Nissan LEAF might have a shorter range, but it's less expensive than the Volt, and when in electric mode, it doesn't have to lug around a heavy internal combustion engine. The Volt would no doubt get more than 40 electric miles out of its battery without the gas engine (in fact, GM said that it was working on an electric-only version of the Volt).
Different Ways to Get Around for Different Needs
What it comes down to in the end is what do you need a car for? It's still better to walk, cycle, or take transit. But if you truly need one, is it for short trips? Longer ones? Lots of variability, or a very predictable driving pattern? Depending on those factors, a hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or electric car might be best.
More on the Chevy Volt
Finally! GM Announces Volt Pricing ($41,000 Before Rebates)
Chevy Volt Battery to Have 8 Years/100,000 Miles Warranty
GM to Make 10,000 Volts in 2011 and 30,000 in 2012
Firefighters Cut a Chevy Volt to Pieces During Safety Training (Video)