The April 2011 edition of Consumer Reports has some interesting comments about the Chevrolet Volt. The following is from the article. GMs plug-in hybrid goes gas-free for short trips, but is pricey. 1. The Volt will not be available nationwide until the end of the year. 2. It is a 4-seat, battery powered hatchback that runs on electricity alone for short trips. The battery takes up the rear center. Its electric range is claimed to be between 25 and 50 miles, and after the lithium-ion battery is depleted, a gasoline engine kicks in and acts as a backup generator, powering the electric drive and extending the range to a total of about 300 miles. 3. Ours cost $43,700 including options; with a dealer markup, the total was $48,700. a. There is a $7,500 electric vehicle tax credit. 4. A weak electric heater is problematic. It is quiet, has brisk acceleration, with a taut, supple ride. Due to the tepid warm air, the passengers were uncomfortable. When the temperature dips below 26, the engine will turn on even during the electric portion of the trip. 5. The mph is not meaningful without knowing a trips length, because calculating fuel economy depends on the ratio of electric to gasoline use. a. Weve been getting between 23 and 28 mpg, due to the winters freeze. The cars electric range is very susceptible to cold weather since the heater runs on electricity. b. Weve also found that an extended highway cruise shortens the electric range. 6. So, the fuel economy depends on your driving pattern. The more often and further you travel, the closer your overall energy use drops toward 30 mpg. 7. Based on energy use, the Volt has been averaging close to 2 miles per kilowatt-hour, which, according to the EPA, is the equivalent of 65 mpg. But thats for the first 25 miles or so, on battery alone. 8. GM says recharge times are about 4 hours with a 240-volt supply, and 10 to 12 hours with 120 volts. Our Volt has been taking almost 13 kWh in about 5 hours every time we charge. Volt buyers should purchase a 220-volt (Level 2) charger. a. At the national average rate of 11 cents per kWh, the Volt costs about 5.7 cents per mile in electric mode and 10 cents a mile after that- if gas is $3 per gallon. b. A Toyota Prius costs 6.8 cents per mile, and a gas powered Honda Fit costs about 10 cents per mile (but the price is less than half of that of the Volt). 9. In the Northeast, electricity cost is a lot higher. For example: Sep. 22, 2010: ($0.27 per kWh) Aug. 23, 2010: ($0.24 per kWh) Jul. 23, 2010: ($0.29 per kWh) Jun. 23, 2010: ($0.28 per kWh) May 24, 2010: ($0.41 per kWh) Apr. 23, 2010: ($0.87 per kWh) W303 » New York City Electricity Con Edison Kwh Charge History 10.So, the Volt works as an electric car with a gas backup .but it is not much of a money saver in many places. For now, the Volt is an expensive way to be green. 11. The Nissan Leaf cost us $35,270 and is eligible for the $7,500 tax credit. The Leaf is great for short trips, but we found that the range rapidly reduced from 36 miles to barely 19 one frigid morning. Nissan claims 100 mile range .we averaged 65 in the winter. a. With a 220-volt charger it took 7 to 9 hours, and took 22 kilowatts per charge. On 110, it can take 20 hours to charge. We recommend the extra charging port ($700) that allows a charge in 27 minutes from DC charger. It is hoped that these chargers will be installed in many public places. b. We averaged 3 miles per kWh, which is 3.7 cents a mile @ 11 cents. The EPA rates the Leaf at 99 mph equivalent ( 93 mph equivalent for the Volt). He heater is fine, and it seats five.