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Why A Nissan LEAF Or Renault ZOE Beats A Mercedes A180, Mercedes C180, Or BMW 320i

Years ago, I did cost comparisons of the Nissan Leaf and “comparable” Nissan gasmobiles. I haven’t been doing such comparisons any longer for one simple reason: it’s like comparing apples and oranges.

Basically, the drive quality and convenience level of gasmobiles simply don’t compare to the drive quality and convenience level of electric cars. The smooth, quiet, fast, powerful acceleration of an electric car offers a much better experience for the driver. The ability to spend just a few seconds plugging in when you get home and unplugging when you leave (until this metal snake charger is commonplace, that is), hugely trumps finding a gas station, getting off the road, filling up, paying, getting back in the car, and getting back on the road… while smelling the nasty and toxic stink of gas stations.

Yes, the common “convenience” discussion around electric cars concerns the challenge of charging in public when you need to do so. But that misses the broader perspective and point. For many if not most of us, the convenience of home/workplace charging (something like 95% of charging, depending on the person) vastly outweighs the downside of occasional public charging.

Nissan Leaf

A message from Nissan Leaf owner Brian Kent.

Many people who say that the upfront cost of an electric car is higher than that of a “comparable” gasmobile are basically using factors like the interior trim of the cars and perhaps interior space or gadgets as their comparison values. Again, that simply misses the full picture. If the materials used on your dashboard are really what matter to you, fine — we all have to determine our own values. But I simply can’t imagine many people would weight dashboard materials over drive quality.

Mercedes A180 Side

Mercedes A180

Mercedes C180 Front

Mercedes C180

BMW 320i

BMW 320i. Sorry for the view on this one — I was actually just eager to take a picture of the EV charging station, and wasn’t thinking about taking a nice pic of the 320i….


As I briefly mentioned yesterday, I recently rented a Mercedes A180, Mercedes C180, and a BMW 320i (within the past two months). The bases prices for these are around $36,000, $40,000, and $33,000, respectively, from what I’ve found. Even though I know all about the benefits of electric drive, I was genuinely surprised a bit to experience how poor these vehicles felt compared to even a Nissan Leaf ($29,010 before the US federal tax credit for EVs) or Renault Zoe (~£10,000, or $15,700, + about £70–100, or $110–157 a month for the battery). The drive quality was total crap, imho — another era of technology, an out-of-date era. They were so sluggish, so noisy, so weak and slow. It felt like something was really wrong with them. They were much better than some of the cheaper gasoline-powered cars I’ve rented, but they still felt like they were rotary phones while I had gotten accustomed to cell phones (or smartphones… in the case of Tesla). Or perhaps a more adequate analogy would be that they felt like the computer I was using 10 years ago rather than the much, much quicker, more enjoyable, and sharper one I’m using as I type.

Yes, I enjoyed the quality of the steering wheels, some of the interior materials, and perhaps another feature or two, but it was like moderately enjoying the frame around a picture when I didn’t like the picture. It was like eating a stale, cold piece of pizza rather than a fresh, warm one.

It’s actually very hard to make an adequate comparison, but hopefully the point has been conveyed. And I know that almost anyone who has driven electric cars and gasmobiles knows what I’m talking about. Whether you’re driving a Leaf, a Zoe, en e-Golf, an i3, a Model S, or some other electric car, as soon as you drive a gasmobile again, you can see that EVs will take over the market.

Nissan-Leafs-Barcelona Renault Zoe 5 BMW i3 Barcelona Spain Tesla Model S Brown Amsterdam 3

All images except the first one by Zachary Shahan | EV Obsession | CleanTechnica (CC BY-SA)

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Written By

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.


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