There is one thing today that separates an electric car from a gasoline car. Its power comes from a battery, and that battery needs to be recharged.
This fundamental shift in how car owners think about refueling their vehicles is why Cars.com purchased a 2011 Chevy Volt in January and a 2011 Nissan Leaf a month later.
We drove these cars in temperatures ranging from minus 2 to 67 degrees in the Volt and 24 to 82 degrees in the Leaf, and both lived up to their billing. But after recording driving data from each outing with both vehicles, we discovered two significant issues an owner will face: how cold weather affects them, and how much you’ll need to rely on a somewhat erratic car computer telling you how far you can drive.
Chevy says the Volt’s range on battery alone — it also features a gasoline engine that works as a generator to power the electric motor when the battery is emptied — is between 25 and 50 miles.
When we picked it up from the dealer in sunny California on Jan. 3, its range was 33 miles. We didn’t see that number again in Chicago until March.