The Chevy Volt & Nissan Leaf: Proof That A Sucker’s Born Every Minute

There’s a very basic rule for new technology: it should be better than the old technology that it’s replacing. Electric cars have yet to meet that test. Replacing a gas powered car with the best electric cars on the market, the Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf, would be like replacing your MP3 player with an 8-track tape player.

The long-anticipated Chevrolet Volt, General Motors’ electric car, will cost $41,000, the company announced Tuesday, leaving consumers to decide whether its environmental appeal is worth a price far above that of similarly sized conventional autos.

Electric-car technology has been around for years, but the high cost to make the vehicles has prevented automakers from producing them for the mass market. The price announcements for the Volt and its electric rival, the Nissan Leaf, have been highly anticipated as a result. Nissan, the only other major manufacturer expected to bring such a vehicle to market this year, said the Leaf will cost $32,780.

GM and Nissan are relying on a $7,500 federal tax credit for buyers of electric vehicles to offset some of the added cost, and they’re hoping that the allure of their novel power source will make up the rest.

“The Volt is a game-changing product,” said Tony Posawatz, GM’s vehicle line director for the Volt, which is expected to hit showrooms in November 2011.

Although the prices are high, enthusiasts say that electric cars can reach a large, untapped market for vehicles with little or no tailpipe emissions.

The Volt can travel 40 miles on its battery charge and an additional 340 miles on a gasoline-powered generator. The all-electric Leaf has a range of 100 miles.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, then-Sen. Barack Obama pledged to put 1 million plug-in vehicles on the road by 2015

…Consumers must also get accustomed to plugging the cars in at home. It takes hours to recharge the vehicles, and in the absence of a network of public recharging stations, drivers that run out of juice may need a tow truck.

Both Nissan and GM are planning relatively low production levels at first, especially compared with the more than 11 million vehicles expected to be sold nationwide next year.

GM plans to produce 10,000 Volts next year, and 30,000 in 2012, company officials have said. Nissan has indicated that it will sell about 25,000 Leafs in the United States next year.

So, let’s see: these cars are EXTREMELY expensive, can take hours to recharge, and won’t work for long trips. In other words, you can go buy a $2,000 clunker on Cragslist tomorrow that will probably give you better performance than either the Volt or the Leaf.

Yet, we’re giving out huge tax credits to get people to buy these third rate pieces of crap? What a waste — especially since a significant percentage of people who buy these cars are undoubtedly going to be rich greenies who’re willing to shell out ridiculous amounts of money so they can have environmental bragging rights on their second or third car.

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