They may give environmentally conscious consumers everywhere a warm and fuzzy feeling in their stomachs, but electric and plug-in hybrid cars are deadly serious business for the automakers that have invested millions in their development and production. The Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf haven't even appeared on American streets yet, and already competition is heating up between the two models.
General Motors released pricing details for its Volt plug-in hybrid yesterday, including a $350 per month lease that is eerily similar to the Leaf's $349 per month lease deal. Also, like Jake Holmes of Car and Driver, I doubt Nissan's announcement yesterday that its powertrain warranty would be eight years/100,000 miles (identical to the Volt) was just a coincidence.
Nope, there's definitely a battle brewing here. And that couldn't be better news for electric car buyers. Competition will make Nissan and GM, as well as any other automakers that enter the plug-in and electric market, work harder and more quickly to improve their products.
I don't know whether Nissan was planning on putting that eight-year warranty in place before GM announced theirs, but I do know that's likely to become the standard for warranty coverage on batteries going forward. And not having to worry about replacing $15,000 worth of batteries in the first eight years of ownership is going to make people a lot more likely to take a chance on an electric car.