EV Shopping with Elliot

Our family went shopping for an electric vehicle last weekend. Elliot was thrilled - he even passed up a play date with his best friend so he could join us.


First, we tested a Ford Focus EV. It belongs to our optometrist, who wants to sell it so he can get the new Rav4 EV.

At first I wasn't too keen on it - the styling feels dowdy to me, though Elliot & his dad thought it looked "sleek". But inside it was pretty sweet - the good doctor got leather seats, and the Focus driver seat comes with an electric adjustment nob that rivals a La-Z-Boy for comfort & adjustability. Upside: a 6.6kWh charger means it fills up on a level 2 charger in 3-4 hours. Downside: no DC fast charger.

Later we test drove the Chevy Spark, and Elliot asked about that:

Our last test drive was in a 2013 Nissan Leaf, so new it was still covered in plastic! (And seriously off-gassing. I told Elliot to hold his breath until we could roll down the windows.)

Elliot - high on that 'new car smell'.

Elliot - high on that 'new car smell'.

The 2013 Leaf also has a 6.6 charger, and a ChaDeMo DC quick charge port, and a "braking regen" drive mode that feels almost as fun as the BMW Active-E (and helps increase range).

While there was no clear winner, we felt that the combination of 3.3 kWh (read: slow) charger and current lack of fast-charging infrastructure for the Spark put it in last place. I liked the look of the Leaf (in silver, anyway), and the braking regen is a big draw. Plus the Leaf is a clear winner on trunk space. And most importantly, the speed of quick charging on the Leaf makes it a viable car for longer distances - and a better model for encouraging others to go EV.

But the cost of the Leaf (we were quoted $362/month for a three year lease) is almost double the cost of the Spark ($199) and significantly higher than the Ford ($225).

The upshot: we're going to wait until after we do our taxes to see how much we can afford - and hope that in the meantime the 2013 Leafs come down in price!