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Volt, Leaf: How green are these electric cars?

Last updated on: October 19, 2010 12:57 IST

Volt, Leaf: How green are electric cars?

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The world is waiting for the launch of two significant cars that would play a vital role in determining the future of passenger cars across the globe.

Two major electric cars -- Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf -- are going to hit the roads between November and December.

Electric cars in general are battling issues like range anxiety and high price tags. With the range of such cars hovering around 100 miles in a single charge and prices exceeding $42,000 (about Rs 20 lakh) they are not what one can claim to be mass products.

Apart for that there are indicators that the cars do not fare so well on the 'environment-friendly' front that is being hailed as their unique selling point.

And although electric vehicles claim to minimise the use of fossil fuels it is important to note that the electricity required to charge them is mostly generated using coal is several parts of the world.

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Image: A Citroen C Zero electric car.
Photographs: Reuters
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Also, the transportation and other activities needed to import and export lithium-ion batteries have their own bit to add to the carbon foot print of these cars.

Another question to be posed here is regarding the recycling or disposal of batteries that would be rendered useless after a while.

Even though General Motors Co. and Nissan Motor Co. are studying ways to tackle this problem, it is sometimes not feasible or worthwhile to recycle them.

With major issues lined up to be tackled the road for these electric cars is going to be a bumpy one. However, the response to Volt and Leaf has so far been very good but would it be lasting is a thing to be watched out for.

Meanwhile, click NEXT to check out both the cars . . .

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Photographs: Reuters
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Nissan Leaf

The car is claimed to give an average range of 100 miles and a top speed of 90 mph.

The Leaf has 25kWh lithium-ion batteries that are built at a new factory alongside the car plant. Leaf has well done interiors, a white dashboard and absolutely quite interiors has a unique feel to it.

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Image: The Nissan Leaf.
Photographs: Reuters
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The instrument panel shows the battery's charge state and rate of discharge and recharge along with road speed and so on.

According to Nissan, a normal charging on a 240 volt 13A domestic supply is expected to take 11 hours while at 400 volt, 50kW the charging time comes down to about eight hours.

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Image: Nissan Motors COO Toshiyuki Shiga demonstrates how to recharge Nissan's Leaf all-electric vehicle.
Photographs: Reuters
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It is a four passenger, 4-door hatchback that is capable of going up to 40 miles on a charge and use an on-board generator for longer trips.

The car is a very sophisticated vehicle surpassing any other hybrid.

The Chevrolet Volt is operated by electricity produced by an on-board battery or gasoline engine that takes about eight hours to charge in normal volt condition of 120V.

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Image: The Chevrolet Volt.
Photographs: Reuters
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With a 240V charging point the battery can be charged in three hours.

The carmaker has not compromised on any safety feature and Volt is going to be loaded with ABS (Anti-lock Braking System), traction control system, anti-skid system and air bags for both curtain and front side.

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Photographs: Reuters
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