Getting Charged Up for New Chevy Volt

If you're thinking about buying one, there are some things to think about

Get ready to plug in your car. The electric powered Chevrolet Volt is just a few weeks away from hitting the streets and the Nissan Leaf is also making the rounds.

The idea of electric cars is pretty cool. But when it comes time to plunk down thousands of dollars to buy one, that's when we start having second thoughts.

Clearly the hybrids have done well in San Diego and that's one reason the electric cars are coming here first. But there's another reason -- the weather.

“How are they going to hold up under severe cold, how are those batteries going to do? By starting in Southern California, and San Diego in particular, they have a very mild weather and it shouldn't play that big of role in decreasing the amount of range you can get on that electric engine,” said Patrick Olsen from

Olsen points out that while the Nissan Leaf is a true electric car, the Volt gets a little from gasoline when it needs it. And that may actually work in its favor starting out.

“That onboard gas generator is going to make the Volt go much farther. If you run out of electric juice, the generator kicks in. If you need more gas, you get more gas. The Leaf, on the other hand, once that battery is drained you've got to stop and recharge it, at least to some level, before you can move again,” Olsen said.

So who is going to buy these new electric cars? No one with a really long commute.

“But if you live in downtown San Diego or someplace not too far out, your commute is less than 40 miles each way and if you travel at relatively low speeds, the Leaf could work out very well for you,” Olsen said.

The price can also be a concern. The Volt is over $40,000 and the Leaf is more than $30,000. And while they may become a status symbol for those who are first to bring them home, there are reasons to wait.

“You know any new technology is always going to be a little risky.  If you want to be absolutely certain things are going to work over time, maybe that's not a choice you want to make,” Olsen said.

He says that if you're buying the electric car expecting to get that $7,500 tax credit -- be careful. Check with your accountant first to make sure you can use the full amount.

The battery was also a big question with the Toyota Prius and after eight years, they are doing pretty well. It is a weakness, but most think the battery technology will keep getting better and cheaper.

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