While some celebrities (Alyssa Milano) and everyday working folks have plans to buy both a Chevrolet Volt and a Nissan Leaf, our friend Felix Kramer and his wife have done everyone one better by being (as far as we know), the first family with three plug-in vehilces: a Leaf, a Volt and Kramer's long-time converted plug-in Prius. The short version of what this means: "I've felt like we've taken a time machine to the future."
Continuing his on-going efforts to promote plug-in driving, Kramer has written a detailed write-up about the three cars (focusing mostly on the new arrivals) over at his CalCars site. Here are some highlights:
Each car offers subtle clues about its fundamental character. The Volt puts a whole car between the front left electric door and the rear right gasoline door. Inside, the button to flip open the electric door stands out while I have to work to reach the gas-door release, giving the message, "You're not going to be using this very often." The Leaf's charging ports are under a giant door right in the center of the car's nose: "There's nothing going on in here but electricity."
With sales of these industry-changing vehicles just starting to take off, expect lots more people to experience the same thrill that the Kramers have been able to already.
We all know both cars will get better soon. All carmakers will learn from each other. (The savvy ones aren't relying on their customer service operations, but have budgeted for large teams to track down and analyze the tens of thousands of comments and suggestions strewn around online.) The automakers can quickly update some software features. One reason we leased the Volt instead of buying it is our expectation for future hardware improvements in Version 2. The Volt's big challenge is making the car a five-seater.