Concomitant to the many threads about global warming, is the possible requirements for amelioration of the problem. One suggestion is the use of electric cars (EVs). The following is from a fairly thorough review in ConsumerReports magazine, October 2010. 1. The first of the new EVs are the Chevrolet Volt and the Nissan Leaf. The EVs will allow driving moderate distances using no gasoline and producing no tailpipe emissions. These cars require basic changes in driving habits and often hefty household electrical work. a. EVs will be released regionally and it could be years before they are available nationwide. 2. The types of EVs include: a. Dedicated EVs: The Nissan Leaf is a pure battery electric car that runs solely on an electric motor and has no gasoline engine. On a full charge, expect up to 100 miles. Since dedicated EVs need large batteries, it can take 8 hours or more to recharge, even with a heavy-duty 220 volt outlet, and much longer with regular household 110-volt outlet. b. Extended-range EVs, as GM describes the Volt, the car runs only on its electric motor up to 40 miles. Then a small gasoline engine kicks in to provide enough additional electrical power to continue driving. This extends the Volts range to more than 300 miles. Having a smaller battery than a dedicated EVs, Chevrolet estimates that the Volt can be charged in about 4 hours on a 220-volt outlet or about 10 hours on a standard 110. c. Plug-in hybrids are essentially conventional gas/electric power cars with a larger battery that allows them to operate on electric power more of the time, although they cant go gas-free for long. We had our 08 Toyota Prius converted to a plug-in, and found that the added battery power helped boost the mileage by more than 50%- but only for the first 35 miles. Then it reverted to hybrid, and fuel economy dropped below a standard Prius due to the extra battery weight. The cost of the conversion was over $11,000, outweighing any gas saving. 3. How far will you drive? If you commute 20-30 miles each way, a dedicated EV would fit your needs; longer trips require careful planning. An extended EV is fine if you dont mind using gasoline. a. A cars electric range can vary significantly depending on how much load is put on the batteries: heating or cooling the cabin, running lights and wipers, listening to the stereo can consume half of the batterys power, severely shortening driving range. This should be a major consideration for anyone who faces rush hour traffic. 4. Will EVs save you money? Depends on electric rates. Electricity costs an average of 11 cents per kilowatt-hour in the US. At about 3 miles per kWh, thats about 4 cents a mile. If gas costs $2.80 a gallon, a car such as the Toyota Corolla, @30 mpg, would cost about 9 cents a mile. But electric rates vary widely. a. High rates can offset any savings. In Connecticut, @ 19 cents per kWh, the Volt may be no cheaper than the Corolla. b. While there are plans which reduce prices during off peak hours, California buyers need to be especially careful because the states Public Utility Commission has set caps on usage for the lowest rates, so an electric car may boost you to a higher rate. c. Special rates for electric cars require the installation of Smart meters. d. Utility companies will need to inspect electric lines and transformers in your area to make needed upgrades. e. Chevrolet Volt owners can download electric utility rates to the car, but require GMs OnStar System. 5. The Leaf starts as $33,600 and the Volt at $41,000, while the Toyota Prius hybrids range from $22,000 to $28,000. a. The federal government is offering a $7,500 tax credit. And California an additional $5000. b. An EVs price reflects its expensive battery pack. EVs can do a reasonable range, but they cant do it at a reasonable cost given todays batteries, says Ron Cogan, editor and publisher of Green Car journal. The Volts batteries cost $8,000 or more and the Leafs about $18,000. c. No one knows how long those batteries will last: there is no track record by which to gauge them. 6. Charging the EVs. A standard 110-volt outlet might work for the Volt- but probably wont work overnight for a dedicated EV. a. A heavy-duty 220-volt, 30- or 40-amp circuit, more practical, could cost up to $2000. b. Youll need a charger: Both Leaf and Volt have an onboard 110-volt Level I charger. A Level II 220-volt for the Leaf is between $700-$1200, and a dealer will have to have an electrician inspect your home to give an estimate for installation. 7. In California, the law demands that the largest manufacturers sell at least 12,500 plug-ins by 2014, and President Obama wants 1 million such cars on the road by 2015. [This would be 80 times that number.] Better get crackin.