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Car Tips

Keeping an electric vehicle easier than ever

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

If it's been a few years since you looked at electric vehicles (EVs), you may want to consider the latest models. There are new innovations and lower prices that make electrics more competitive.

Now that EVs are becoming more a part of the automotive landscape, the downsides to owning one are becoming fewer.

Nissan's Leaf, for example, has gotten some improvements to entice more buyers: a lower base price, faster charging times, and options that give it a more premium feel. Plus, the Leaf is now built in the U.S. These things all seem to be helping, as sales have picked up recently.

And if you have a Leaf or another electric, more places to recharge have sprung up. For example, one McDonald's restaurant in Riverside was remodeled to be more "eco-friendly." Yes, those golden arches are turning a bit green.

"We're LEED Gold certified and we really push the envelope on technology. We're seeing mroe and more electric vehicles and it seems like the wave of the future that wherever you go, you need to be able to get a quick charge," said Candace Spiel, the owner-operator of the McDonald's location.

They might really be on to something. The new green McDonald's was recently packed with regulars, not just for burgers, but for kilowatts.

"I will actually shop at a place that has a charger. And I'll choose that restaurant or business," said customer Brian Casey.

There are essentially three ways to charge an EV. Level 1 is that cord that comes with the car and plugs into a household outlet. That takes many hours to charge up a battery. Level 2 is higher voltage. That's those home chargers and most public charging stations.

Level 3 is a quick charge. It can give a car like the Leaf an 80 percent charge in about the time it takes to have lunch.

And the location of the new charging station makes it an ideal EV waypoint for trips to places like Palm Springs or Big Bear. For now, the new quick charger is free, but it'll eventually cost about $5 to use.

And charging at home is about to get a bit more economical. Bosch announced a breakthrough price for its new Level 2 charger: $449, about half the price of others.

There are lots more choices in cars now too, from the tiny Smart Electric to Toyota's plug-in electric version of their RAV4 in the event you need a small SUV.

EV's still aren't perfect, nor are they for everyone. But living with one is getting a little bit easier all the time.

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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auto news, car tips, dave kunz
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