Recently, there have been great strides in not only diesel and hybrid cars, but also in electric cars. A few electric cars that we’ve seen manufactured have really put a heavy emphasis on performance, which is a nice change of pace from older cars we’ve seen that were known as “low speed.” You know, the ones you aren’t even allowed to drive on roads with a speed limit higher than 35 mph!
Here’s a list of the most promising electric cars that we should see available in the USA in 2011.
Nissan Leaf - The Nissan Leaf electric car is a 100 percent electric vehicle that requires no gasoline. It can seat up to 5 passengers, has 5 doors, and a range of 100 miles per charge. It runs on a 24 kWh lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery, and has a variety of different features, ranging from push button ignition, to navigation, and so on.
With a 100 mile per charge range, a car as such is going to be great for suburban commutes or short back and forth trips daily. It’s made in America, and will go for just under $26,000 (after all applicable tax credits are applied). More information can be found on the Nissan Leaf Website.
This one looks like it could be a Prius killer for urban drivers. I’ve heard that Lance Armstrong has one reserved already.
Chevrolet Volt - Now, technically the Chevy Volt is actually a hybrid, as it features a gas engine that recharges the battery. However, the powertrain is only powered by an electric motor, so we decided to include it to our list. The Chevy Volt will charge overnight, and when you’re ready to go will run on a charge for 40 miles, free of gas and emissions.
After that, the Volt uses a range-extending gas generator that produces energy to power it for hundreds of miles on a tank of gas. There’s more information to be found about the Chevrolet Volt electric car on their official website.
Coda - The Coda electric car can seat up to 4 passengers, and is powered by a 728 cell lithium-iron phosphate battery. This car has a range of 90-120 miles, with a top speed of 80 mph. As far as warranty is concerned, the Coda features a 3-year/36,000 mile limited vehicle warranty. In addition, the battery covered for 8 years/100,000 miles.
More information about the Coda Electric Car can be found on the official Coda website.
Fisker Karma - Much like the Chevrolet Volt, the Fisker Karma electric car is also somewhat of a hybrid that features a gas engine to recharge the battery, yet only uses an electric motor for the powertrain.
Designed by Henrik Fisker (who is known for his work on the BMW Z8, the Aston Martin DB9 and the Aston Martin V8 Vantage), the Karma boasts a 300 mile range and can go from 0-60 in less than 6 seconds, featuring a top speed 125 mph (200 km/h).
The car also features two Driving Modes: stealth drive (a quiet economy mode) and sport drive (which accesses the full power of the vehicle).
Here’s how the car works: it uses what is known as “Q-DRIVE plug-in hybrid technology.” A fully-charged Karma burns no fuel for the first 50 miles. After 50 miles, the gasoline engine turns a generator to charge the lithium ion battery. From there, the car operates as a normal hybrid vehicle.
A balance of gas and electricity as such can help the driver achieve an average fuel economy of 100 mpg (2.4L/100km) per year.
For more information on the Fisker Karma, check out the Official Fisker Karma website.
Ford Focus eV - You may have recently seen the Ford Focus electric automobiles on Jay Leno’s ‘Green Car Challenge’ where he and guests on the show go head to head in an obstacle course with one of the Focus eV Electric Cars.
Hopefully in 2011 this battery-powered version Focus should be available in a limited fashion (with at best – a possible 5,000 manufactured for the first couple of years). The drivetrain of the Focus has been engineered by Magna International, a Canadian company. The Focus will have a 100-mile range and will rely on lithium-ion batteries.
Tesla Roadster - The Tesla Roadster is a pretty hot sports car. You may have seen some of our posts here on The Practical Environmentalist that look into an ongoing back and forth exchange between Tesla and Fisker. The Roadster is a high performance machine – going from 0-60 mph in just 3.9 seconds! In addition, it can go up to 245 miles on a single charge!
So what we’ve essentially got here is high power performance in an eco-friendly fashion. The Tesla Roadster literally redefines everything that you may have thought to be true of an electric car.
Now, the price tag is pretty hefty – as the Tesla electric car rivals any high powered sports car price tag (leasing one, for example will cost you just under $1700 per month). However, for the car enthusiast and the eco-friendly connoisseur, this is the ultimate in electric powered vehicles.
Want to learn more about the Tesla? Surely your interest must be piqued! Check out the Official Tesla Motors Website for more great information on the Roadster. Tesla is evidently also working on a four door electric car that will cost in the $60K range, after tax breaks. Not sure when that one will hit the market.
Think City - The Think City electric car is slated to be available in the US for 2011. This electric car has a range of around 75-100 miles per single charge. It runs on the Zebra sodium battery and Lithium-Ion battery from EnerDel, and can be charged through a conventional socket.
The features on this car are just like you would want on any other automobile – airbags, mp3 player, bluetooth enabled, ABS – and is a two door, multiple passenger car that should perform well for city traffic, and for the daily commute. Not to mention – you’re also helping the environment.
More information about the Think City can be found on the Think Website.
Update: Toyota contracts with Tesla to bring electric RAV4 back in 2012
We’ve read reports that apparently the Toyota Corporation has contracted with Tesla to help bring back the electric Rav4. They plan to use a Tesla powertrain and battery pack with the RAV4 body.
Toyota has set a goal to release a car in the US by 2012, so it won’t be in the US in 2011. But hopefullly by 2012 we’ll see an electric car by Toyota back on the market. The electric Rav4 was made from 1997 to 2003 and had a range of 100 miles.
What about other electric cars?
There are a handful of other electric cars that have been proposed, but many of these are still “in production” phases, or are “low speed” vehicles, that are great for suburban and neighborhood travel, but aren’t ideal or ready yet for highway travel. Then there are others that look much like golf carts, which you certainly can’t take to work with you day in and day out.
Still, these are some great options, and some promising new developments in the world of electric vehicles!
Did we miss anything on the list? Let us know in the comments!