“I’d rather sit on batteries than a tank of gas, in terms of explosion risk,” says Olivier Chalouhi, who became the world’s first Nissan LEAF owner when he took delivery of one in late 2010. It is a sentiment that Patrick Wang, one of the first to own the plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt, shares. “There’s a ton more energy in gasoline than in the battery pack—so to me it’s not a concern at all,” he says.
The only safety concern among a small sample of EV owners interviewed in conjunction with the May EVS26 electric vehicle symposium in Los Angeles relates to pedestrians’ obliviousness to the quiet electric drivetrain. Chalouhi, whose LEAF is equipped with an automatic pedestrian-alert sounder, says he has not had any such issues. Yet Wang, whose Volt is equipped with a driver-actuated pedestrian-alert sound, says that sometimes in parking lots pedestrians have not noticed him, so he activated the chirping noise.
Maintenance and driving range
Given that the battery pack is the single most expensive part on the vehicle—some estimates are up to 45 percent of the total cost of the vehicle—questions have been raised as to how frequently it will need to be replaced.