kpix-7-2013-masthead kcbs 7-2013-masthead

ConsumerWatch: Electric Cars Moving Into Mainstream Slowly

View Comments
An electrical cord is plugged into a Chevy Volt at the 2010 International Consumer Electronics Show at the Las Vegas Hilton on Jan. 7, 2010 in Las Vegas. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

An electrical cord is plugged into a Chevy Volt at the 2010 International Consumer Electronics Show at the Las Vegas Hilton on Jan. 7, 2010 in Las Vegas. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

(CBS 5) – Big-name electric cars are slowly but steadily making their way from the assembly line onto the streets. Getting one at this point – and for at least another year – will require patience, according to experts.

“You’re going to have to do a little bit of work to get behind the wheel,” said Brad Berman, founder of PluginCars.com. Berman said it’s not surprising Nissan and Chevrolet are taking a long time to get their first generation of electric cars to consumers.

“A car is a complex machine and they have to get it right. It’s a very high-profile vehicle for them.” Berman added that last month’s earthquake in Japan also set back production of the all-electric Nissan Leaf.

Mark Geller of San Francisco got his Leaf six weeks ago. “I certainly get a lot of thumbs up,” the San Francisco resident said.

Daniel Yee of Mountain View has had a harder time. Yee says he put in an order for a Leaf more than one year ago, but when his car finally arrived three weeks ago, it was missing an optional quick-charge system that he ordered. The dealer took it back, but Yee said a replacement has been slow to arrive. “The next I hear, it’s going to ship in three days, but that was two weeks ago,” Yee recounted.

After ConsumerWatch contacted Nissan, Yee received his car the following weekend.

“The communication has not been perfect,” Berman acknowledged. “They (Nissan) went out strong with a lot of marketing and in the end it’s still not 100% clear the day exactly when you’re going to get your car.”

Nissan and General Motors, the two biggest and newest players in the electric car market, are expected to deliver about 45,000 electric cars this year. Nissan’s Leaf is an all-electric vehicle with a range of 100 miles. After that you have to get to a charging station. Chevy’s Volt is a plug-in hybrid. It goes 35 miles on electricity alone, and then a gasoline engine kicks in, enabling the car to go several hundred more miles.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)

View Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus