Behind the wheel of electric cars, no big surprises

For all their differences under the hood, the electric cars coming to market do a pretty good job of disguising their electric identities. That will make these vehicles more attractive to potential buyers, but don’t expect auto sales to flip electric like a light switch.

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to drive a number of electric vehicles at the Business of Plugging In auto industry conference in Detroit. I can report what many car reviewers will tell you: these are real cars. You really can forget that old notion of rickety golf carts.

Step into a Nissan Leaf or a Chevy Volt and you’ll feel at home, even with the new “fuel gauges” you’ll see. Although I only had short drives with the Leaf, Volt, and other electric cars, I found them comfortable and enjoyable to drive.

As these plug-ins get more attention in the media, it seems there are more attempts to deflate the hype around electric cars. J.D. Powers and Associates, for example, last week issued a press release on electric and hybrid vehicles that had a negative tone.

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