Nissan’s big number
In the coming weeks, we will see the rollout of the two most-watched entries in the global electric-car race, the Nissan Leaf and the Chevrolet Volt. Both are in the headlines today, and here is the detail that caught my attention: The Leaf, writes Nick Bunkley in the New York Times, will get the equivalent ...
In the coming weeks, we will see the rollout of the two most-watched entries in the global electric-car race, the Nissan Leaf and the Chevrolet Volt. Both are in the headlines today, and here is the detail that caught my attention: The Leaf, writes Nick Bunkley in the New York Times, will get the equivalent of 99 miles per gallon.
For months, a drumbeat of pessimism has threatened to drown out earlier optimism about the possibility of an electric-car juggernaut over the coming decades. Electric cars and hybrids will overwhelm power grids, we are told. Governments, specifically President Barack Obama and the leaders of most of Europe, Japan, and China, are too far ahead of consumers, warns the Economist. Few will buy a car that could stall on the way home from work, U.S. News predicts. At 24/7 Wall Street, Douglas McIntyre writes, “The dream of a highway populated by electric and other low emissions cars may be no more than hope. If wishes were horses, all the beggars would ride.”
And yet, that figure — 99 miles per gallon, calculated using an Environmental Protection Agency formula in which 33.7 kilowatt hours equals a gallon of gasoline — tips the scales a bit in my eyes. We’ve all been on the showroom floor, and after admiring the design lines of this or that model, we take a sharp look at the sticker, and the prominent display of the premier maintenance cost we will face, which is fuel. Consumer psychology is a tricky thing, but suffice it to say that the number 99 is a lot different from 28 or 36. The EPA hasn’t certified what the Volt will get on the road, but it’s going to be in the same ballpark, and I think that is going to turn a lot of heads.
In the Financial Times, Ed Crooks writes that Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn is already doing a victory lap, arguing that his $5 billion bet on electric cars has been vindicated. That’s a bit premature. But pay attention to the number 99. It’s important.
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