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Coming up this afternoon, the heated discussions we have here on AutoblogGreen about the merits of the Nissan Leaf in comparison to the Chevrolet Volt will take to the public airwaves. Sometime during the 2 p.m. (EDT) hour of NPR's Science Friday show today, Nissan's Mark Perry, Nissan's director of product planning, Tony Posawatz, the Chevy Volt's vehicle line director and Phil Ross, a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum will join host Ira Flatow to discuss the question "Are Americans ready to plug in?" That's the official direction the show will go in, but we're guessing we'll hear at least a little sniping from the two automaker representatives about how their vehicle is better than the other, whether because of price, range or whatever. We hope people who call in provide good ideas and opinions as well. You can listen to the show live on your local NPR station, stream it or grab the podcast once it's over (note: interactivity will be decreased when listening to the podcast).

[Source: Science Friday via Plugin Cars]


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  • 40 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      I listened to this and it was fairly dull and just EV 101 stuff.

      The one thing I found interesting is when they asked Tony Posawatz about the high price, he pointed out that cellphones started out really expensive and became less expensive in the later years. I took that as an admission that this first year model of the Volt is quite expensive and they plan on lowering the price in later years. Perhaps Chevy wants to get the highest amount from the early adopters, work out the bugs on the first year model, and then release cheaper models that will sell better in later years.
      • 4 Years Ago
      god? which god? Does "god" own petroleum stock?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Only indirectly, through his servant's, Goldman Sachs! ;-)
      • 4 Years Ago
      Remember- if you don't like the Volt then you aren't a patriot.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Rush Limbaugh is a scumbag...get over it!
        • 4 Years Ago
        You don't need to like it. But just bashing the Volt because Obama is in the whitehouse is a truly pathetic thing to do.

        The Volt project was launched by a conservative that doesn't even believe in climate change. (Bob Lutz) And the Volt project was launch during and mostly designed during the Bush administration. To bash it now as some 'socialist treehugger' car is just garbage. Ask conservatives T.Boone Pickens, james Schlesinger, and the late Matt Simmons how important it is to start making cars that do not run on oil.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The reason it will become cheaper is because batteries will have more density and they will only need to put half the current size pack in the Volt to get the same range and warranty. GM knows where the largest cost reduction will be, simple, batteries.

      I still say both cars should be cheaper now. If your going to produce in volume you throw R&D costs out the window. Both should cost less on this basis. There is much room to lower price on this basis. Think about all the R&D costs they are willing to through out on FCV's if they truly plan on having them on the road in 2015 in the neighborhood of 50k.
        • 4 Years Ago
        There are many reasons why batteries may (will) become cheaper; to reiterate, what I found interesting was that GM is (a the moment at least) more likely to keep the EV range the same and reduce the cost of the car rather than keep the cost of the car the same and increase the EV range.

        As far as absolute costs at the moment are concerned: Certainly, as a consumer I'd love it if the cars were cheaper, or ideally free with a box of cornflakes. But GM and Nissan and the others are all businesses. GM in particular has come under (justifiable) criticism for not making a profit in the past. The market seems more than willing to bear the current prices, though, and so from a purely business perspective getting early adopters to foot the bill for the R&D seems like a good strategy.
      • 4 Years Ago
      NPR is turning into National Liar Radio.
      That's why there's a "Republican" appointed to it's board. To platform the ridiculous arguments of the Oil Industry, on a "Liberal" radio.

      I'll bet you they set this up specifically to knock the Volt and the Leaf.

      The show was heavy with so called "caller" comments.
      Like, boo hoo, it's going to burn coal, and electricity looses energy thru it's distribution system - Wire. And no one made the point about the Electric Motor's Torque or Efficiency.

      I'll bet money this was a totally STAGED presentation, with a "lobby" group ready with prepped "callers".



        • 4 Years Ago
        LOL, your tin-foil hat is showing.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "So NPR should only promote a liberal view?"

        Ha, do you realize what you just implied? That an unbiased and factual discussion of the issues is "liberal", and that a biased stacked one is not liberal? In that case, sign me up for liberalism!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Don't worry too much about the psycho right wingers, MikeekiM. There are millions of fools who cheer on the psychos on the RW thinking that they'll be "rewarded" somehow. They will change their tunes when they find out too late that the psycho right will toss them aside when they are no longer any use.

        Those who make a full time career of sniffing the behinds of the rich and their cronies will wake up in a dingy apartment, unemployed and black listed, wondering what happened to the promised crumbs their "friends" were going to toss out their lofty windows.

        One day enough of us in the "lower" classes will get fed up enough to remove these thieves and murderers from their lofty perches. Till then we'll just have to smile and nod to the fools and tools of the rich and the corporations, till they realize the error of their ways.
        • 4 Years Ago
        So NPR should only promote a liberal view? Is that in their charter? If so perhaps they should only take money from liberals.
      • 4 Years Ago
      As soon as the Leaf becomes available, I'll buy it; it'll do for 98% of the mileage I accumulate per annum. Additionally, I'm contemplating on buying a used plug-in Prius or Auris to cover the long hauls. Both together are cheaper than a Volt and more efficient. So much for the Volt.
        • 4 Years Ago
        It is all kind of arbitrary.

        I will bet that the vast majority of Volts are sold into multi-car households anyway, so they could just as easily bought a Leaf and use the other car for long trips.
        • 4 Years Ago
        1.Take the number of trips < 150km you take in a year.
        2. Take the amount of money you would spend on that second car per year: payments, gas (probably not significant though), insurance, whatever.
        3. Divide #2 by #1.
        4. Compare to the cost of renting a car for those trips.

        You'll probably find that it's not worth the expense in comparison really, especially if a whole 98% of all trips are considerably less than 150km.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Spiffster:

        Look up limited mileage insurance. As you wouldn't need full coverage for the Prius and would only need to insure it for less than 2000 miles/year, it would likely be cheaper to insure a Leaf and a used Prius than to insure just a Volt of similar total cost. If you live in a 2-car family already, then you really don't have to add another car. Parking spaces are not that much of an issue for most people.

        I personally fly on long trips, my fiancee already has a fuel efficient gasoline car, and it makes no sense to have another gasoline car .
        • 4 Years Ago
        Bad idea in my opinion. Are you going to carry Insurance on both? Folks that live in the city, like I do, will have to pay for 2 parking spots. Are you saying the LEAF requires a supplement car? BTW, Im surprised I haven't seen a comment from Nissan fanboy Middle Way on this... yet.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Gary, their will come a time when you sacrifice convenience for dollars. It may not be here today but it will be. It is stressful to find a charging station for the first time after that it is not so bad. Doing anything is stressful for the fist time. We all know you have better things to do and are far busier than any EV driver could possibly be. I think it is best if you just watch for ten years, by that time the rest of us will have made everything safe and convenient for you and can provide examples of what you can do in a EV. Please don't try this at home, you will injure yourself. Please just watch and learn, range anxiety is for the weak. After we have solved all your petty problems pertaining to EV's then you and the rest of the lethargic public can buy EV's because it saves you money. Some people just need others to do it for them, I am happy to lead the way into the future.

        • 4 Years Ago
        I'd be adding a Volt to a multi-car household. The thing is, my houseold's other vehicle would be a pickup truck for my fairly short drive to work. I'd rather not burn so much gas for fairly frequent weekend trips to the big city which is only an hour away. A Leaf wouldn't work reliably for that distance without having me search for a charging station; as much as I care about the planet, I'm not enviro-OCD and willing to inconvenience myself looking for an appropriate charging station and having to take public transit while my car charges... I have better things to do.

        Maybe in a world of make-believe (i.e. California) I could possibly find a charging station within a 5 minute walk of where I want to go. But not in the neck of the woods where I live.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @augstus - Not that hard to find a Prius under $10k - just look on AutoTrader. I found about 300 going for less than that across the country. I restricted my search to 2004+ models.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Hello, are the maths hurting your head?

        How is Leaf + used plug in Prius less in cost than a volt??? Where can I buy a used plug in prius for ~10k? because I would like to get one at that price.

        Sheesh.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Per Evan's comment, it was pleasant that "neither Chevy's Tony Posawatz nor Nissan's Mark Perry made any attacks on the other's product". This was in some contrast to the situation at PlugIn2010 when some pointed comparisons (nothing nasty or rude) were made on the show floor. It seems that in a more public forum they (thankfully) realised that it's ultimately counter-productive to denigrate each other.

      I didn't get the impression that Phil Ross played devil's advocate; he came across as simply ignorant and politically biased -- something inappropriate for this particular programme. The market is very clearly showing that there is consumer demand for both these vehicles. And even if this were government mandated, it's not clear why this would be a bad thing. Whatever your political persuasion, there are good reasons to wean the country off its oil addiction.

      From my perspective, there seems to be little reason to suggest that one of the vehicles is "better" than the other. Both seem to be good compromises on the road to a car that has unlimited range, is "environmentally and politically" friendly (insofar as either of those is possible), and is readily affordable. Each makes a different set of compromises. The Leaf has a limited range, the Volt still uses an ICE. Over time, the Leaf (and others of its ilk) may get a better battery, the Volt (and others of its ilk) may get alternate fuel sources(*). Each may suit a different customer. It's good to have choices.


      (*) It was interesting to me that at PlugIn 2010, when asked about improved battery technology, Posawatz said that the likely direction was initially at least to make the car cheaper rather than increase its all-electric range.

      • 4 Years Ago
      Proverbs 19:5, "A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape."

      [ LImbaugh and Beck ]
        • 4 Years Ago
        That refers to bearing false witness against god.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I think they are both good, they serve different buyers. I think it is good that the Volt will show people that limited range with an EV isn't really an issue of much concern, and that you can cut your gasoline consumption by 95% with only 40 miles electric range, because most trips are shorter than 40 miles. The Leaf is good because it shows what a pure EV can do, and that if you get in the habit of thinking 150 km, then you work your lifestyle around it. Also, the network of fast charge stations coming along with the Leaf should show people that range anxiety isn't really an issue, once the whole country gets into high gear with EV's

      If NPR really wants to stir up debate, they should get an FCV shill on the show.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "When a car maker has an FCV vehicle actually ready to be sold the same year as the interview, then they would be welcome at the table"

        EXACTLY. When the fuel cell people offer a car for SALE (not lease) then they can tout their wares. Until then, they are nothing but spreading FUD.
        • 4 Years Ago
        haha that was pretty easy. Hey LetsTAW, even the mechanoid Kryten from Red Dwarf thinks FCV's are a scam. He is a mechanoid, he knows what he's talking about.

        http://www.youtube.com/user/fullychargedshow#p/a
        • 4 Years Ago
        "If NPR really wants to stir up debate, they should get an FCV shill on the show".


        When a car maker has an FCV vehicle actually ready to be sold the same year as the interview, then they would be welcome at the table.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "If NPR really wants to stir up debate, they should get an FCV shill on the show."

        Wow, and the comments were so reasonable up until this point, accepting that hybrids and BEVs have different design missions to fit different real-world applications; just like FCVs have yet another design and another application.

        FCVs and BEVs are complementary technologies, and will coexist in the market.

      • 4 Years Ago
      What I find important from this discussion is that GM confirmed that there is only one Voltec plant and that much of the 2012 production capacity will be going to Europe, Asia and Australia.

      My guess for 2012 allocations: 15k US, 15k Asia,10k Europe, 5k Australia...
      • 4 Years Ago
      FYI, the Leaf and Volt segment is starting now.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Mark Perry played up the 'no tailpipe' angle.

        I think both cars are great and they serve different markets. The price of the Volt is disappointing though. Nissan is going at the EV market hard out of the gate. GM basically seems to be using this first year as a test market.
        • 4 Years Ago
        - Phil Ross played devil's advocate. He suggested the technology is driven by government and not consumer demand, played up the government subsidies, and questioned the life of batteries.
        - Neither Chevy's Tony Posawatz nor Nissan's Mark Perry made any attacks on the other's product (although Tony Posawatz was a bit cheeky playing up the "made in America" angle).
        - Overall, the show was light on information.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Throwback, do I really have to find you another quote?
      I mean I could google it, but, is your position Lies about Global Warming, and the basic concepts of an EV market, Ok?

      I mean, we could "get into it". But is it really worth the effort.
      Are you going to take the position that God said it's Ok to Destroy the Earth? To fool your neighbor's for your own profit?

      I'm guessing you're not going to go down that road.
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