Author Topic: [Rant] Electric cars, in particular Nissan Leaf  (Read 59554 times)

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Offline free_electron

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[Rant] Electric cars, in particular Nissan Leaf
« on: September 28, 2013, 08:14:25 pm »
Right.. where to begin.. Take a chair for this one. Actually don't take a chair , you will fall off..

So, today was plug-in day. I want to the De Anza gathering of electric plug-in vehicleowners and manufacturers. Many a manufacturer, dealer and owner was there.
I mozy over to the Nissan Leaf stand and am approached by one of their reps. They flaunt and toot all about how eco friendly it is, how you are no longer dependent on oil, how much cheaper it is in usage than a regular car etc.
So i ask the question everyone want  to have an answer to: What is its operational radius?

Here is what follows: (N=nissan , FE = me )
N: 85 to 100 miles on a charge
FE. Ok.. So. I live here in an Jose and want to go for a little trip to Carmel. About 75 mile one way. You mean i can't get home ? Can i even get there as it's uphill over the santa cruz mountains ?
N: Well you plug it in over there to charge.
FE. Well, how long does it take ?
N: about 8 hours
Fe: so going for lunch, stay 2 hours and come back is out of the question then ...
N: Well yeah, but how many times do you do this a year ?
FE : about 10 times ... sometimes i drive to monterey to buy fresh fish off the boats and come straight back... 150 miles roundtrip.
N: well , in that case you use your other car.
FE: ... ?!? what do you mean your 'other' car ? you expect me to buy TWO cars now ? What if my other car ( assuming he ment my wife's ) is also electric ?
N: well , nissan has a program where you can rent a car for the day or weekend from the dealer.
FE:  <jaw dropping> now you want me to RENT a car ? I just bought a new car ... and what's that rental going to be ?
N: one of our standard gasoline cars
FE:  :palm:  ARE YOU INSANE ? you just touted how eco friendly the damn thing is and the first thing i want to do with it can't be done and you tell me you'll happily rent me gasoline powered one ? Where is your damn logic ? What's this thing run on anyway ? double A batteries ? Put some batteries in that thing. Lithium ion cells are about a 1$ a pop in mass quantity. A battery pack like tesla's has about 6000 in em, throw in some electronics and a charger and you end up at a cost of 10K for the battery pack. inverter and motor and a chassis (speaking about a compact car like the leaf), strip all the exuberant luxury and you can sell it at 35K and make 7K profit. I'll give you a check right here and now for one. But no you want me to buy not only your crap car but also a second , gasoline powered car. this effectively more than doubles the price of the Leaf ( cost of the leaf + cost of a gasoline powered car) and i am still tied to gasoline. What do you take me for ? an idiot ?

At this point the N guy got really upset with me and walked away. Some people that were behind me listening to my argument also turned around and walked away. One guy told me: You got a very valid point there... they obviously ain't ready.

I went to look at others , Coda ( now bankrupt) , BMW E vehicle, Toyota , Chevrolet. It's everywhere the same story. 65 to 100 mile on a charge. They are INSANE...

I signed up at the Tesla stand for a testdrive, which i got to do 15 minutes later. Now that was an experience. That thing just peed all over any other car out there, whether electric or not. There is no 'range anxiety', it charges half in 22 minutes, you can swap a battery in 1 minute and 20 seconds, it's got more luxury than top Mercedes or BMW cars and it accelerates faster than many a supercar. It is absolute fun to drive. Nerdvana.

If i look at the cost of a Nissan Leaf + the cost of a second gas car to cover the range problems , i end up at the price of a base Tesla ...

No thanks Nissan. You can stick that leaf where you want it... Your car is a failure, your arguments are a failure, and the fact that you had to recommend me owning or renting a backup gasoline car car was the proverbial nail in the coffin... Heck i couldn't even drive to San francisco and back on a charge..

Note: The line of people waiting to get a testdrive in the tesla was 3 times as long as the line of any other car maker...


« Last Edit: September 28, 2013, 08:16:14 pm by free_electron »
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Offline zapta

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Re: [Rant] Electric cars, in particular Nissan Leaf
« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2013, 08:35:46 pm »
If your motivation is avoid the global warming catastrophe you should play this video before investing in an electric car.

http://capitolrecord.tvw.org/2013/03/senators-hear-testimony-from-global-warming-skeptic/#.UhrFqWR4Z05

A friend at work has a Tesla and he loves it. Very impressive car indeed, though heavily subsidized directly and indirectly (free electricity charging at work, access carpool lane, etc). 

As for fan driving, 0-60mph on straight line is one thing, handling to curves on the way to Mount Hamilton is another. I doubt ithat theTesla S will catch up with this mid engine two seater (not mine) which costs less
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Offline johansen

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Re: [Rant] Electric cars, in particular Nissan Leaf
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2013, 08:45:00 pm »
i've wondered how its possible to get 30% efficiency (diesel to electricity) from a robin 3KW diesel genset

yet car companies can't do it with a 50HP gas engine.
 

Offline MacAttak

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Re: [Rant] Electric cars, in particular Nissan Leaf
« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2013, 08:46:23 pm »
Not to mention the total lack of charging stations. Around here there are stations at places like Ikea or Whole Foods. But if you aren't out buying new furniture or expensive groceries, then you're SOL I guess. Oh, and the soccer moms have all figured out that you won't get towed for parking in a charging space (unlike handicapped reserved spaces), so the Ikea and WF charging stations usually have a damned Suburban or Escalade parked there already :--
 

Offline free_electron

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Re: [Rant] Electric cars, in particular Nissan Leaf
« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2013, 08:47:16 pm »
you gotta be crazy driving up Mt ham at that speed especially in the fog... that road gives me the jitters even on a clear sunny day !
Besides i am not a speed freak. i just want a nice (electric car) with the same range as a gas powered one...

I fi were in that dude's car around the 3 minute mark as he is flying across the single lane with the steep dropoff to the right .. he'd have to get his seats replaced... and i'd need a new pair of pants .. i HATE heights ,especially when there is no railing. i wont get on a 3 step ladder... 2 is as far as i'm willing to go. i get dizzy if i need to change a lightbulb in the ceiling ...

And the noise of that porshe is deafening. haven't those guys heard about exhaust mufflers ? bunch of loud obnoxious rattlers. Noise pollution is pollution too.

anyway, got an appointment tomorrow at the Tesla manufacturing plant...
« Last Edit: September 28, 2013, 08:51:47 pm by free_electron »
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Offline elgonzo

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Re: [Rant] Electric cars, in particular Nissan Leaf
« Reply #5 on: September 28, 2013, 09:00:48 pm »
That was a day without much news :)

Tesla struggles with pretty much the same issues like anyone else, which is current battery tech and the related chicken-and-egg problem of needing a dense network of battery replacement stations to make the e-car a mass product.

Correct me if i am wrong, but it appears that Tesla doesn't have much other revenue streams than selling the e-car. In which case it makes perfectly sense for them to  push the e-car technology much further than other car companies. But even Tesla cars are far from being comparable to the usability and convenience of petrol cars. Except perhaps if you live within these few special square miles on our planet which are equipped with Tesla recharge stations, and if you can tolerate supercharger stations that need a whopping 20 minutes to fill just half the battery.

If you can't advance battery technology substantially, and you still want to make e-cars a mass product replacing the petrol car, you will need to standardize a battery swapping system. Which not only requires close collaboration among the industry partners/regulators/Santa Clause, but will also concern car construction (especially safety/crashworthiness). Understandable, that car companies (and the whole pack of suppliers behind them) are reluctant to make big, risky steps.

I believe as soon as the development of dense country-wide/global infrastructure of battery replacement stations has been sorted out (or batteries becoming an energy carrier as capable as gas), many car manufacturers will catch up fast as the revenue potential will outweigh the risks.

But when will this happen?
 

Offline elgonzo

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Re: [Rant] Electric cars, in particular Nissan Leaf
« Reply #6 on: September 28, 2013, 09:04:54 pm »
Not to mention the total lack of charging stations. Around here there are stations at places like Ikea or Whole Foods. But if you aren't out buying new furniture or expensive groceries, then you're SOL I guess. Oh, and the soccer moms have all figured out that you won't get towed for parking in a charging space (unlike handicapped reserved spaces), so the Ikea and WF charging stations usually have a damned Suburban or Escalade parked there already :--

I am afraid that current charging technology is too slow to be fit for a mass market dominated by petrol cars that can be filled from empty to full under the nose in a few minutes, while giving you a range unachieved by e-cars. In my opinion, if this cannot be remedied, only battery swapping would be feasible every-day/anytime solution to "refill" your e-car...
 

Offline elgonzo

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Re: [Rant] Electric cars, in particular Nissan Leaf
« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2013, 09:08:28 pm »
And the noise of that porshe is deafening. haven't those guys heard about exhaust mufflers ? bunch of loud obnoxious rattlers. Noise pollution is pollution too.

Isn't that one of the reasons why someone buys such a car? It's made for an "audience"   ;D
 

Offline G7PSK

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Re: [Rant] Electric cars, in particular Nissan Leaf
« Reply #8 on: September 28, 2013, 09:12:12 pm »
I saw a Nisan add for their electric car on the TV they gave a from price and then flashed onto the bottom of the screen is "plus monthly battery lease" no price on that, is the battery so unreliable they wont sell it to you like the Renault one or is it too expensive to include in a price that will make people want to buy.
 

Offline elgonzo

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Re: [Rant] Electric cars, in particular Nissan Leaf
« Reply #9 on: September 28, 2013, 09:21:48 pm »
I saw a Nisan add for their electric car on the TV they gave a from price and then flashed onto the bottom of the screen is "plus monthly battery lease" no price on that, is the battery so unreliable they wont sell it to you like the Renault one or is it too expensive to include in a price that will make people want to buy.

I guess its because of the battery costs.

Just look at the battery options for the Tesla S, for example (in US$, undiscounted, w/o tax credit).
Upgrading the 60kWh battery with a 85kWh model costs a whopping 10K US$.
If you want the P85 85kWh battery (for faster acceleration, which hints at this battery being able to deliver higher current than the "normal" 85kWh battery), you pay an additional 10K US$.

These costs also include other tires and probably other cosmetic changes. I am not sure whether the car models have to be adapted for the different batteries, or if the different batteries can be put in the same car chassis.

Anyhow, this example will give you some idea of the order of magnitude of battery costs...
« Last Edit: September 28, 2013, 09:26:52 pm by elgonzo »
 

Offline free_electron

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Re: [Rant] Electric cars, in particular Nissan Leaf
« Reply #10 on: September 28, 2013, 09:26:42 pm »
Whoa, they (nissan) didnt tell me about leasing the battery ! If that is true then it is a complete failure.

I don't get it. 6700 liion cells at 1$ a piece plus casing and electronics yields a 10.000 battery. Add a standard compact car chassis and standard outfit (not luxury like the tesla) and a drivetrain. You should be able to mass produce for 20 to25 k and sell at 30 to 35k$. Note that we dont need a super performance battery like for the tesla. We are not building a car that does 0 to 60 in 4 seconds.

Since it would be smaller than the tesla and thus lighter ( the tesla weighs 2 ton) you should easily get 350 miles from a charge.
Tesla can do a battery swap in 1 minute and 20 seconds and their superchargers blast 40 kilowatt/hour in 22 minutes ! (That is a 120 kilowatt / hour charger)

Whay can't other car makers do that ? I see only 3 possibilities
- they are technologically retarded
- they are plain idiots
- it is a conspiracy netween big oil and big car and big dealer

Even if the battery were 20k$ you could still make it for 40k$ and sell it at 45k$ and have no range anxiety.

Take the cost of a small compact car. 18$ retail price. Slap in a 20k tesla battery pack and you have an electric car doing 400 miles on a charge. Sell at 38k$. Done
But no. They make 35k$ toys with 75 miles range...
« Last Edit: September 28, 2013, 09:36:19 pm by free_electron »
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Online NiHaoMike

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Re: [Rant] Electric cars, in particular Nissan Leaf
« Reply #11 on: September 28, 2013, 09:27:16 pm »
The Tesla has the battery mounted way low which gives it excellent stability. http://www.thecarconnection.com/news/1086364_tesla-model-s-so-safe-it-broke-nhtsas-testing-equipment
Quote
According to Tesla, the Model S performed twice as well as other vehicles on the rollover test. As a matter of fact, NHTSA's normal tests couldn't induce the car to flip, so the agency had to resort to "special means". Tesla credits the sedan's battery pack for that, which gives the Model S a very low center of gravity.
A generator (or unloader) trailer would be a great solution for the few long distance trips. For those who regularly travel long distance, a hybrid or even a high MPG conventional car would be a better bet.
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Offline free_electron

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Re: [Rant] Electric cars, in particular Nissan Leaf
« Reply #12 on: September 28, 2013, 09:35:30 pm »
Hybrids are bo solution either. The chevrolet volt can do 35 miles on its battery.. And it's game over..
That is laughable..
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Offline elgonzo

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Re: [Rant] Electric cars, in particular Nissan Leaf
« Reply #13 on: September 28, 2013, 09:50:41 pm »

I don't get it. 6700 liion cells at 1$ a piece plus casing and electronics yields a 10.000 battery. Add a standard compact car chassis and standard outfit (not luxury like the tesla) and a drivetrain. You should be able to mass produce for 20 to25 k and sell at 30 to 35k$. Note that we dont need a super performance battery like for the tesla. We are not building a car that does 0 to 60 in 4 seconds.
I don't think they just slap lithium cells together.
It needs to be temperature controlled (speaking about winter in California, eh ;) )

Joking aside, i can imagine that developing (and certifying) a crash-worthy car battery that doesn't incinerate half the road in case of an accident costs big bucks. Not sure, though, how much of these things are cross-financed by tax-dollars, tax-euros, tax-rmb, tax-won, etc...


Whay can't other car makers do that ? I see only 3 possibilities

I give you a 4th possibility:

The question is not "Why can't they?", the question is rather "Why should they?".
Simplified spoken, the car manufacturers let somebody else take the risk, to reap the success for themselves later.

If what Tesla does proves to be a money maker, car companies will come down like a pack of hyenas to make the big money (there might even be some car manufacturers that want to take over Tesla; but this is just my speculation).

If this moment comes, Tesla will be in a difficult and painful fight. Tesla is lacking global a distribution chain/logistics to sell their cars en-mass (assuming theoretically they could churn out huge amount of cars). Eventually, they will have to partner with an established car company to use their distribution capabilities (and/or manufacturing facilities) -- unless they have backing and protection from their US government (That's why car companies do not really fear technology companies, but rather fear the meddling of governments of countries with strong economies).
 

Offline elgonzo

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Re: [Rant] Electric cars, in particular Nissan Leaf
« Reply #14 on: September 28, 2013, 09:54:09 pm »
Hybrids are bo solution either. The chevrolet volt can do 35 miles on its battery.. And it's game over..
That is laughable..

Let the experts speak:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmxUsGiGp3w#t=0h3m25s

EDIT: The interesting part starts at 03:25.
(It seems the starting time code for the video doesn't work through the forum link.)

Granted, it is somewhat biased, but that's why we love Top Gear, right?
Nevertheless, there is much truth about it...
« Last Edit: September 28, 2013, 10:01:19 pm by elgonzo »
 

Offline IanB

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Re: [Rant] Electric cars, in particular Nissan Leaf
« Reply #15 on: September 28, 2013, 10:02:37 pm »
I don't get it. 6700 liion cells at 1$ a piece plus casing and electronics yields a 10.000 battery. Add a standard compact car chassis and standard outfit (not luxury like the tesla) and a drivetrain. You should be able to mass produce for 20 to25 k and sell at 30 to 35k$. Note that we dont need a super performance battery like for the tesla. We are not building a car that does 0 to 60 in 4 seconds.

Since it would be smaller than the tesla and thus lighter ( the tesla weighs 2 ton) you should easily get 350 miles from a charge.
Tesla can do a battery swap in 1 minute and 20 seconds and their superchargers blast 40 kilowatt/hour in 22 minutes ! (That is a 120 kilowatt / hour charger)

Just thought I'd do a ball park sanity check on this.

As a rule of thumb it takes about 1 MJ to propel a car for one mile.

If we say our standard Li-ion cell holds 10 Wh, then 6700 of them would be 67 kWh, or 240 MJ. So ball-park, such a car might have a range of 240 miles on a full charge. More with a light car and gentle driving, less with a heavy car or a heavy right foot.

But how to charge such a beast? Let's suppose you leave it plugged in overnight from 7 pm to 7 am. That's 12 hours, so the charger needs to supply 67/12 = 5.5 kW (call it 6 kW). I guess in fact that's quite feasible with a dedicated 240 V circuit. The tumble dryer socket in my garage is on a 30 A breaker so it could suffice.

One snag with Li-ion is that they will wear out and need replacing after 3 years or so and that's going to be expensive.
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Offline elgonzo

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Re: [Rant] Electric cars, in particular Nissan Leaf
« Reply #16 on: September 28, 2013, 10:10:08 pm »
One snag with Li-ion is that they will wear out and need replacing after 3 years or so and that's going to be expensive.

But at least the Lithium battery can be mostly recycled.
Whether this will be economically feasible, or patent mongers suffocate the recycling industry is to be seen...
« Last Edit: September 28, 2013, 10:11:52 pm by elgonzo »
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: [Rant] Electric cars, in particular Nissan Leaf
« Reply #17 on: September 28, 2013, 10:32:41 pm »
FE. Ok.. So. I live here in an Jose and want to go for a little trip to Carmel. About 75 mile one way. You mean i can't get home ? Can i even get there as it's uphill over the santa cruz mountains ?

Well, the conversation ends right there because you are looking at a fully electric car to replace a car that has an entirely different usage scenario.
In that case by a Holden Volt.
Or get a Tesla S that has up to 500km range.

I don't understand people who poo-poo fully electric cars, when at this stage they are suitable only for certain usage scenario. If your usage case does not fit the scenario, then look elsewhere, like Volt with a backup petrol engine.
Yes, fully electric car range is not great at present, but they headed the way of the Tesla Model S, so will get better.
 

Offline tom66

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Re: [Rant] Electric cars, in particular Nissan Leaf
« Reply #18 on: September 28, 2013, 10:36:25 pm »
For a car battery which does ~300 miles @ 500 cycles to 80% capacity, then 120,000~150,000 miles is practical for the battery, which isn't too bad for a part which can be recycled. A123 type cells (uh... before bankruptcy) got lower capacity but something like 2,000~5,000 cycles. I could foresee an improvement which makes the battery last just as long as a typical ICE. Considering the reduced servicing costs of an electric car (no ICE) the $12k replacement battery after 8~10 years isn't too bad for a luxury car.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2013, 10:37:57 pm by tom66 »
 

Offline elgonzo

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Re: [Rant] Electric cars, in particular Nissan Leaf
« Reply #19 on: September 28, 2013, 10:41:17 pm »
I don't understand people who poo-poo fully electric cars, when at this stage they are suitable only for certain usage scenario. If your usage case does not fit the scenario, then look elsewhere, like Volt with a backup petrol engine.
Yes, fully electric car range is not great at present, but they headed the way of the Tesla Model S, so will get better.

You are absolutely right. And still, car company marketing wankers try to sell e-cars as "cars" - in the sense of how the general public understands what a car is -, which causes a lot of unjustified but understandable disappointment...


EDIT:

Just go to http://www.nissanusa.com/electric-cars/leaf/features/ to see marketing wanking hard, harder, hardest...

I quote:
"WOULDN’T IT BE COOL IF YOU NEVER HAD TO STOP FOR GAS AGAIN?
The Nissan LEAF® is 100% electric. That means no gas. None. So forget about the cost of a gallon, and say hello to freedom from the pump. Because the only time you’ll be going to the gas station is whenever you need to put air in your tires."


If you consider the time it takes to recharge the thing, marketing was not just wanking but also having a good laugh at the gullible customers...
« Last Edit: September 28, 2013, 10:51:34 pm by elgonzo »
 

Offline IanB

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Re: [Rant] Electric cars, in particular Nissan Leaf
« Reply #20 on: September 28, 2013, 10:54:26 pm »
I don't understand people who poo-poo fully electric cars, when at this stage they are suitable only for certain usage scenario.

It's about the economics. My daily driving is about 25 miles, so an electric car would work fine for that. However, about once a week I do a 100+ mile trip. That would be out of range.

The result is that an electric car would not be a replacement car, but an additional (second) car. Now the economics require my fuel savings from not putting gasoline in my first car to be greater than the purchase and running cost of the second car. If I could lease the second car for $40/week I could break even. However, the actual lease cost for a small EV is more like $130/week, so on financial terms this is a non-starter.

The only reasonable justification for an EV therefore is as a "fun" vehicle. You don't run it to save money, you run it for the enjoyment of something novel.
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Offline EEVblog

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Re: [Rant] Electric cars, in particular Nissan Leaf
« Reply #21 on: September 28, 2013, 10:57:32 pm »
It's about the economics. My daily driving is about 25 miles, so an electric car would work fine for that. However, about once a week I do a 100+ mile trip. That would be out of range.
The result is that an electric car would not be a replacement car

No, you just aren't considering the right type of electric car. Buy a Volt in that case, it is perfect your your driving scenario, and a huge number of other people.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2013, 11:00:52 pm by EEVblog »
 

Online NiHaoMike

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Re: [Rant] Electric cars, in particular Nissan Leaf
« Reply #22 on: September 28, 2013, 10:59:17 pm »
It's about the economics. My daily driving is about 25 miles, so an electric car would work fine for that. However, about once a week I do a 100+ mile trip. That would be out of range.

The result is that an electric car would not be a replacement car, but an additional (second) car. Now the economics require my fuel savings from not putting gasoline in my first car to be greater than the purchase and running cost of the second car. If I could lease the second car for $40/week I could break even. However, the actual lease cost for a small EV is more like $130/week, so on financial terms this is a non-starter.

The only reasonable justification for an EV therefore is as a "fun" vehicle. You don't run it to save money, you run it for the enjoyment of something novel.
A generator/unloader trailer covers the long trips. Or go with a plug in hybrid.
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Offline EEVblog

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Re: [Rant] Electric cars, in particular Nissan Leaf
« Reply #23 on: September 28, 2013, 10:59:21 pm »
If you consider the time it takes to recharge the thing, marketing was not just wanking but also having a good laugh at the gullible customers...

There ARE customers for whom the usage scenario of a fully electric car works.
Just because your usage scenario doesn't fit, don't assume that all other people's don't either.
 

Offline IanB

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Re: [Rant] Electric cars, in particular Nissan Leaf
« Reply #24 on: September 28, 2013, 11:05:31 pm »
No, you just aren't considering the right type of electric car. Buy a Volt in that case, it is perfect your your driving scenario, and a huge number of other people.

No, thank you. It is a horribly over complicated monstrosity that does nothing better than any single mode alternative.
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