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A Greener Commute: Electric Vehicle (EV) Cars

by Elke Erschfeld

During the press preview at the New York International Auto Show 2013, I was able to take a ride in a zero-emissions vehicle at the Electric Vehicle (EV) pavilion. The choices included the Ford C-Max, the Smart Car, the Honda Fit EV, the Toyota Prius and the Nissan Leaf. I opted for the Nissan Leaf since it’s 100% electric and I liked the compact design.

When I sat down, I noted the heated seats–a standard feature. My driver mentioned that LEAF is an acronym for Leading, Environmentally-friendly, Affordable Family car. So far, this sounded good, but I was curious about the actual ride and driving range. During our loops, I learned that the car’s batteries recharge in four hours and give a driving range of 75 miles. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rated the car at 130 MPGe (miles per gallon gasoline equivalent) for the city and 102 MPGe on the highway. I noticed how quiet the Nissan was, and learned it’s even quieter than a Mercedes-Benz S-class. Not bad for a car that’s green (and actually affordable).

The Nissan Leaf is in its third year of production and is now completely built in the U.S., as opposed to Japan. Even the batteries are from here. Currently, there are 50,000 Nissan Leaf cars on the road worldwide, and 20,000 are in America. The biggest obstacle for drivers who are thinking about buying an EV car is its limited driving range. That’s why the Nissan Leaf is ideal as a city or commuter car.

As my test ride came to an end, I mentioned to the driver that I was visiting a few parking garages in New York City to check out their EV charging stations for my studies in Sustainable Design. He clicked on the car’s navigation system and pulled up a menu of nearby EV charging stations. I was surprised by how many there were, just a few blocks away. The charging stations menu is a great feature, since I believe that the charging process needs to become more convenient to attract future buyers like myself. In the meantime, I feel lucky that I’m able to walk or take the subway everywhere.

What is your favorite zero-emissions vehicle? Tweet us @OrganicSpaMag #greenercommute

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