With oil prices above US$100 a barrel, it might seem like the age of the electric vehicle has finally dawned. But there remains little practical reason to buy one. Recently, some drivers of Nissan’s electric Leaf reported suddenly running out of juice despite gauges that suggested miles of motoring left on the battery.
Meanwhile, testers at Consumer Reports magazine suggested GM’s plug-in hybrid Volt can cost more to drive than Toyota’s hybrid Prius, despite being twice the price. There have also been complaints over Volt’s uneven cabin heating in cold temperatures and the strain it puts on the battery. Another big issue: finding a plug. Bill Ford, chairman of Ford Motor Co., has noted that most cars prior to the Model T were also electric. “This isn’t a new technology,” he said, adding that drivers of early electric vehicles had few places to charge them. And more than 100 years later? “We have the same issue.”