Plug Into A New Electric Car

Late in 2010, the all-electric Nissan Leaf and the battery-powered Chevrolet Volt, with a gasoline auxiliary engine for recharging, will go on sale. If you are tempted by the notion of buying a plug-in electric car, here are some questions to ask:

How long is your commute?

Such a car makes the most sense if your round-trip commute is less than 40 miles—the daily round trip that the Chevy Volt can cover without recharging. The Nissan Leaf's longer l00-mile range also would cover almost any reasonable daily trip to work. If your own commute is near the 16-mile round trip national average, you could throw in a few local errands before having to plug in for the night.

Is it easy to set up recharging equipment?

Do you have a garage or a driveway close to electric outlets where you could readily set up the equipment to plug in your car? To fully recharge the batteries, you need to plug in the Volt for about six hours with a standard home line of 110 volts; that drops to about three hours if you install a 220-volt line. The Leaf takes about eight hours to recharge fully even with a 220-volt line. You usually will want to plan your recharging for nighttime, because electricity rates in most locales are lower then.

Will you have another vehicle for road trips?

Though serviceable as commuter vehicles, the recharging issues with plug-ins keep them from working well for weekend or vacation travel. Also, the latest electric car models are small. So if you have lots of people or gear to haul, hold on to that SUV or minivan that you already have. Driving the gasoline vehicle only occasionally still can mean big savings in your weekly transportation fuel bill.

Whether you're looking to take the plunge with an electric vehicle or just looking for something more fuel-efficient, Harvard University Credit Union can help with all your vehicle financing needs. For more information check out our Auto Buying Help Center or view one of our Interactive Coaches. You can also stop by any of our branch locations, email us or call us at (617) 495-4460.


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