Remember back when the only kind of car you could buy had an internal combustion engine? Hybrids weren’t a thing yet and neither were electric vehicles. Those were the stuff of the future, one step removed from George Jetson and his flying car. Today, hybrids and electric vehicles aren’t the stuff of cartoon futures, they’re the stuff of now. The question is whether you’re ready to make the switch.
Hybrids are almost commonplace and come in every flavor from cheap, utilitarian commuter cars to luxury, performance vehicles. They’re easy to adapt to because they don’t require much of a change in your mindset. You still stop for gas, just not as often, and there’s no plugging in anything.
Plug-in hybrids are a little further out of the average person’s comfort zone. These reduce your reliance on that good old-fashioned internal combustion engine even more by letting you plug-in and juice up at the growing number of charging stations across the country.
Sitting at the top of the heap is the electric vehicle. Say goodbye to the internal combustion engine entirely. All you have is electric power and plugging-in goes from being an option to a necessity. The upside is you won’t ever need to stop at a gas station again, unless you’re looking for a cheap, barely palatable cup of coffee.
This is a huge mindset change. Despite the fact we plug in stuff like phones and laptops all the time and that charging a multitude of gadgets is a part of everyday life, charging a car is still a little weird.
The first time you use a public charging station it feels a like you’re being that irresponsible guy who broke the rules and left the car filling up with gas while he went inside to grab a drink. You’re not supposed to do that and leaving your car plugged in feels and looks exactly like doing that.
It’s weird. Really weird. And then, slowly, it’s not weird at all.
Plugging in when you run errands at the mall becomes second nature. Those parking spaces right by the door are a nice bonus, too. In fact, you’ll realize just how many charging stations there are and how they’re placed so you don’t have to walk as far to anything from the mall to the grocery store to the doctor’s office.
There aren’t as many electric vehicles as there are hybrids, but their numbers are growing. The Nissan Leaf, which was all-new for 2018, is one of your more affordable options. This little front-wheel drive hatchback starts at $31,000 before any state or federal incentives. Depending on where you live, those incentives could knock $10,000 off the price of your Leaf.
Perhaps the biggest adjustment – and fear- with an EV is range anxiety. What if you completely run out of juice because there’s not a charging station anywhere nearby. This will, of course, happen only in the dead of winter. On a side road. By an abandoned barn. And is that the sound of a chainsaw and maniacal laughter?
That’s the fear, but there are charging stations everywhere these days if you just take the time to look. It’s not as big of a risk as you think and it’s one that is easily overcome with a little bit of planning. You plan to stop at the gas station when you notice your tank is low. Now you just need to plan to stop and charge and, if you own a Leaf, only if you plan to drive over 151 miles.
Think about that for a second. It’s not a small number and it’s far more than most of us drive in the average day. At a 220-volt charger it takes 7.5 hours for a full charge on the Leaf, but a quick charger can give you 80 percent in 40 minutes. You’re not going to want to do a road trip in the Leaf, but it’s a solid choice for a commuter car.
In many ways, choosing an electric vehicle is just like choosing any other car. You probably don’t want a small car if you have a big family and you probably don’t want a huge SUV if you’re single. You’ll also need to make sure it has the features you want and a price you can afford. The only added consideration is range.
The greater the range, the greater the cost of the vehicle. Much like it’s tempting to get all the horsepower you can possibly afford, it’s tempting to go for the highest range you can manage, but there’s no reason to go that route.
The 2018 Nissan Leaf combines a range that handles an average day’s errands with affordable pricing that offer plenty of good reason to make the move to an electric vehicle.