EV Battery Deathmatch 2013

Of the major companies that make EVs, the best well known are the much-adored Chevy Volt, the affordable Nissan Leaf, and the sleek Tesla Model S.  Each has faced their own challenges and setbacks, but all face the inevitable skepticism on range.  I’m sure several of the executives on these product lines would sell their left leg to banish battery range questions from the English lexicon.  I think it would be adding insult to injury to tell them to “MAN UP” and just fix the problem.  To their credit that’s exactly what they’re trying to do, some are just trying a lot better than others.

Why is it important to learn about EV batteries?

Because since range and affordability compose most of the bottlenecks of owning an EV, if you’ve got one or both, than the market is open for the taking.  Success will mean doing one or both of these better than anyone else.  Its worth looking at this to think about who will be dominating 5-10 years from now, when EVs start gaining traction with more than just the early adopters.  Why did I choose these 3 companies?  Because they’re the most well known, most popular in terms of sales, or have drawn the most press for their EV activities.  I’ll also include a few less well known cars – the Chevy Spark, the all-electric Ford Focus, and the Mitsubishi iMiEv to round out the mix.

Here is a quick and dirty comparison of these three cars thanks to the US Department of Energy:

EV DeathmatchThe US Department of Energy keeps statistics on all these cars, their MPG and battery information.  They have a nifty comparison tool (or game, depending on your POV)and I encourage you to visit the page and play around with it.


If you’re looking for straight MPG equivalence – the Chevy Spark does that for you.  You save money every mile you drive it.  If the money is what gets you, the spark is really an excellent buy as it is significantly stronger in the MPG department than almost all its Electric competitors.  However, that 82 mile range is a problem. If you’re looking for an all-Electric Vehicle with outstanding Range, you really cannot do better than the Tesla Model S.  This is part of the reason that Tesla has been such a groundbreaking company – it is destroying the preconceptions that EVs will stop working when you need them most.  Tesla’s extensive Supercharger network also allows you to make those long trips in a reasonable amount of time, charging at a decent 5-12 hours but in a lightning quick 1 HOUR at a Tesla Supercharger.  The Supercharger network will increase to cover the entire contiguous United States by the end of this year which will make Tesla the ruling car in Charging Time*.  However, the Volt, using its gasoline range, can reach an impressive 380 miles.  It is cheating a little though.  Electric only range is a pathetic 38 miles.  But if Versatility is what you want, as opposed to a clean car, then the Volt is for you.

*Honorable mention: Ford Focus, how do you get such great mileage out of such a short charge?  <4 Hours?  Well done Ford, well done!

Tesla Supercharger 2014 Map

Current and Planned Tesla Supercharger Stations as of Fall 2014 The following is an excellent article from 2013 on the current and planned Supercharger network: http://www.businessinsider.com/maps-of-teslas-supercharger-network-2013-5

So what do you value in an EV?  Short charging times?  Versatility?  or a long and reliable range?  

Make your thoughts known in the comments.






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