Consumer Reports Gives the Nod to Purpose Built EVs

MAY 15 2012 BY MARC LEE 5

Consumer Reports weighs in, giving the nod to purpose built EVs like the Leaf and Tesla.  Complaining that with non-purpose built (NPB) models like the Volt and FFE the battery intrudes on passenger or cargo space.

CR also observes: “Since batteries are heavy, they lower the center of gravity and spread it out, aiding handling, braking, and even the ride. Carrying that much weight around in the trunk can’t do much for handling.”

That would be an obvious shot across the bow at the FFE.  Most mags actually drive the car before they speculate about handling.  In fact, the FFE is almost perfectly balanced front to back and the reviews out so far have been very favorable to the handling.  Also consider that the NPB Volt can substantially out corner the purpose built Leaf.

And yes the Tesla is a purpose built EV, but interestingly for the battery they went with non-purpose built cells, ending up with 6831 cells versus 288 cells in the Volt.  Whether that is good, bad or indifferent only time can tell, but fewer cells and fewer connections does strike one as less chance for failure.

Another factor to consider is that having an EV that shares parts with a popular gas cousin is the wider availability of parts years down the road, and presumably at a lower cost.

Categories: General


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5 Comments on "Consumer Reports Gives the Nod to Purpose Built EVs"

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In what way is the Volt non-purpose built EV? You can challenge the EV part if you want, but it is 100% purpose-built. When the Volt was revealed in 2007, noone said “we’re going to take a gas car and refit it to be an E-REV”. No! They said “we’re building this new technology in a car specifically designed for it”.

The Volt is actually built on a modified Delta II platform, which was first conceived in 2006, and engineered/built by Opel in Germany.

Technically, the platform is named GCV, or global compact vehicle, because this second generation Delta allows for any car off this base to be manufactured on any GCV line. So you can have Opels being run off in Michigan for example. Or a Cruze running down a line beside an Orlando.

There was some consideration given to extended range when this platform was built, but having a monster pack running down the middle of the car and obliterating the interior space, along with the 5th seat was still a consequence (amongst others) of using a platform whose primary function was to underpin their compact petrol cars (specifically the Cruze).

It’s not the static front-to-back weight ratio of the FFE that’s a concern. It’s that it (and to a lesser extend the Volt) has a higher center of gravity than the LEAF. A higher CG causes the dynamic weight ratio to shift considerably under acceleration and deceleration.

Also, the LEAF actually scores better on cornering than the Volt (0.81g vs. 0.79g), according to Road & Track skid pad testing:

The LEAF is based on a modified Versa/Tilda platform, and seems to share some parts with it.

I have to agree, looked at the Focus EV and the battery takes up the whole trunk! I think the Leaf is a much better design. I still like the Volt though, honestly how often do you really carry 5 people in a so called 5 person car?

“Also, the LEAF actually scores better on cornering than the Volt (0.81g vs. 0.79g), according to Road & Track skid pad testing:” Yes I saw that MT rated the Leaf higher on the skid pad and in the slalom.

And yet C&D had the following for the Volt: “The forged aluminum wheels wear low-rolling-resistance Goodyear Fuel Max tires, which squeal loudly as they approach the limit but are surprisingly capable, delivering a solid 0.83 g on the skidpad”

And for the Leaf: “skidpad: 0.78g” new and after 2700 miles “skipad: 0.77g”


The Volt has a slightly wider stance, and the seat height is a bit lower, maybe that helps? I give strong weight to the personal observation of a Volt and Leaf owner in my area who tells me that he nearly wrecked his Leaf when he tried to take a clover leaf onto the highway at the same speed he routinely does in his Volt. This would be a speed well above the recommendation. 🙂