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Sierra Daily

Feb 22, 2013

Electric Vehicles Go The Distance

Nissan leafLast week’s debate between Tesla Motors and the New York Times over whether an electric Tesla Model S could go the distance between Washington, D.C. and Boston had as much range as the 265-mile electric car itself. By the time the dust settled, CNN, CNBC, and some Tesla owners had mounted their own more successful charger-to-charger jaunts up the Eastern Seaboard in the $100,000 EV, and the Times’ public editor had chimed in. (The Times story had “problems with precision and judgment, but not integrity”). What remained this week was just some minor tweeted squabbling between the Times automotive editor, James Cobb, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk. (Musk accused the Times journalist of having “enough sour grapes …to start a winery.”)

So it’s time to return our attention to electric vehicles that more modestly affluent consumers might buy. And there’s good news. Nissan now offers a version of its electric Leaf that is some $6,000 cheaper than any 2012 model, and travels more miles between charges. The Nissan Leaf S stickers for $29,650 (including the mandatory $850 delivery charge). Lop off $7,500 for the federal tax credit, and you’re down to $22,150. Live in a state like California, where you can get a $2,500 rebate, and a Leaf can be yours for under $20,000 -- penny pinching by today's standards. And the Leaf’s range, while not as lofty as the top-tier Tesla, is up from 73 to 75. That seems minimal, but the EPA recently changed its testing procedure. Instead of testing batteries at 100 percent charge, it calculates a mix of 100 percent and 80 percent (which extends overall battery life). Had the 2013 Leaf been tested under the old parameters, its range would be up to 84 miles. And the electric-car revolution continues.

Image from Nissan North America.

HS_ReedMcManusReed McManus is a senior editor at Sierra. He has worked on the magazine since Ronald Reagan’s second term. For inspiration, he turns to cartoonist R. Crumb’s Mr. Natural, who famously noted: “Twas ever thus.”

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