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USA: How I Chose Which Plug-In Car To Buy

I’m pleased to say that I finally bought a plug-in car! As the lead electric vehicle (EV) advocate on staff at the Sierra Club and as someone who cares deeply about the need for our country and my family to slash emissions and dependence on oil, I was giving serious thought to switching to an EV. I was definitely feeling guilty about driving a gas-guzzler. Sure, a lot of my trips were by foot, bus, or train. But there were many car trips too, and they were dirty ones.

Maybe you’re in the same position I was in a few months ago. You want to switch from a gas guzzler or even a hybrid gas sipper, and you’re intrigued by all the new plug-in vehicles on the market.

image via Shutterstock

Which one should you buy? There are a lot of appealing options. After studying this issue thoroughly, I’ll tell you that the ideal plug-in vehicle is different for each person and depends on a lot of factors.

How many miles do you drive your car each day? The majority of Americans drive less than 40 miles a day. The Nissan Leaf, Ford Focus EV, and Honda Fit EV go 70-100 miles on a full charge. The Mitsubishi iMiEV goes 60+ miles. TheTesla Model S can drive about 265 miles. Certain factors such as heat, air conditioning, and hills may reduce these distances, so give yourself some wiggle room.If you need to drive further than these distances on rare occasion, purchasing an all-electric while renting or car-sharing a gas-powered car (ideally a hybrid) may be a good option. If you take frequent long trips and rely on one car, a plug-in hybrid like the plug-in Prius (electric range of 11-14 miles) or an extended range EV like the Chevy Volt (electric range at about 35 miles) might be the best choice, given the back-up gas engine


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