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EV charging remains a great question for the burgeoning industry. Michigan's DTE Energy is the first to tackle developing a specialized bill scheme for EVs (Chevy Volt charger is pictured).  (Source: Car Fanatic Forum)
Customers can also opt for cheaper off-peak charging; may have to pay up to $2,500 for high-tech meter

The Tesla Roadster is already prowling the streets while the 2011 Chevy Volt and 2011 Nissan LEAF EV are preparing to launch later this year.  That's familiar news to most, but what might be a little more hazy is how the growing ranks of EVs are getting their power.

Amid all the EV excitement, charging has been one topic that has been decidedly undercovered -- largely due to lack of available information.  However, the Michigan Public Service Commission this week announced that it had approved the state's first experimental rate for residential customers to recharge their EVs.  

Utility DTE Energy Co.'s Detroit Edison unit filed the application.  By having a regimented payment infrastructure and usage monitoring, the utility will be able to better cope with demand and presumably provide customers with more competitive rates than if it left them on their own to install home charging stations and charge off their current connections.

DTE Energy is offering EV customers two options -- either pay a flat rate of $40 per vehicle per month, or sign up for a lower, variable off-peak rate.  The big expense will be the installation of a specialized meter circuit and charging station -- DTE Energy says that customers may be charged up to $2,500 for that.  It's unclear whether automaker-provided chargers will be compatible with DTE's system.

The trial program will run through December 31, 2012 and can cover up to 2,500 consumers.

For moderately heavy drivers (40-100 miles per day), assuming $40/week in gas expenses and the full charging station cost, it looks like customers will start to see savings in about 2 years.  While those savings have a long way to go towards justifying the large cost premiums on the Volt and Leaf, they're a start, at least.

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By rvd2008 on 8/11/2010 1:59:17 PM , Rating: 0
Leaf 80-100 miles all-electric range is plenty for many people and majority of their trips. Not a golf cart, but perfect 2nd car in a family. Leaf battery tech is backed by 8 years / 100000 miles warranty from Nissan.

Volt is inferior not only in price. It's a tiny niche vehicle for single. Because of its tiny size it's doomed to be a 2nd choice in a family, then its range extender is a mute point, since people will not want to be squeezed in like canned fish for longer trips. And it is still using gas and has all ICE/exhaust maintenance associated with it.

Volt overly complicated dual fuel/engine design remains to prove its reliability. It's GM vehicle after all, so I do not hold my breath.

By Spuke on 8/11/2010 2:53:56 PM , Rating: 3
Volt is inferior not only in price. It's a tiny niche vehicle for single.
The Volt is a niche vehicle and the Leaf is not? Can I get a puff of what you're smoking?

By rvd2008 on 8/11/2010 3:50:52 PM , Rating: 2
Volt, as I explained earlier, is only suitable as a single car for a single owner (no kids). It is 4 seater. So it is its niche.

Now, Leaf is a different thing. It is 5 passenger car, good for a family, especially as a 2nd car. You can call it a niche too, but Leaf niche size is way bigger than Volt.

And GM agrees, just look how many they intend to manufacture and sell, compare that to Nissan estimates. They both have done market research.

By Gungel on 8/11/2010 4:22:46 PM , Rating: 3
There is millions of families with one or two kids. The Volt also offers a larger trunk, but the biggest advantage is its range extender which is a great security feature. Imagine getting stuck with empty batteries in a bad neighborhood or you're caught in a snow storm at 10F and your batteries have to run your heater and traffic is moving at 1-2mph.

By namechamps on 8/11/2010 4:23:05 PM , Rating: 2
Volt seats 5 just as the Lead does.

Of course I wouldn't want to be the 5th person in either vehicle.

Even if Volt only seated 4 what makes you think it couldn't be used by a family. Most households are less than 5 persons. Actually 80% of households are less than 5 persons.

By afkrotch on 8/11/2010 9:06:19 PM , Rating: 2
Volt is inferior not only in price. It's a tiny niche vehicle for single

The Volt is larger than the Leaf. Just cause one's a 4 door and one's a 5 door doesn't mean the 5 door is automatically larger.

Course when your Leaf dies on the highway, good luck. At least with a hybrid, you have some kind of backup.

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