We'll start with the drivetrain. While the Volt and Leaf are both technically electric cars, Chevrolet's solution to the range problem includes the addition of a small gasoline-fueled engine capable of recharging the Volt's onboard battery pack. There's enough battery capacity to travel at least 40 miles before the generator kicks in, but there's no limit to the range after the engine takes over.
Nissan's Leaf, on the other hand, has a somewhat larger battery that the automaker claims will allow for 100 miles of range per charge. After that, there is simply no more forward progress to be had until the Leaf is plugged into an outlet for a few hours – at least. But if going 100-percent gasoline free is your goal, this is your ride.
And then we have the body styles and shapes. Both cars spent plenty of time in the wind tunnel, with extremely different results. The Volt sports a more traditional sedan-like shape and offers seating for four. The Leaf, on the other hand, has a bit of an out-there look to its basic hatchback design and boasts seating for five.
Pricing too is a bit divergent. Nissan has affixed a $32,780 sticker to its electric car, before federal or state incentives. That price will drop to the mid-$20s when a $7,500 tax credit is applied. The General is making its Volt a bit more dear with a $41,000 asking price that drops to $33,500 after the credit. Interestingly, both automakers will offer leases for $350 per month for 36 months.
So, the big question is: Which electric car do you think is the better buy? Make yourself heard in our (totally unscientific) poll below.