Update: Our 2013 Electric Cars in the USA article is now available.
The future’s looking bright for sustainable cars. You may have read our article on Electric Cars for 2011 and wondered what is ahead for 2012 and beyond. Here’s a preview of what’s in development. We’ll provide specs where we can, but as many of these are early-stage concepts, you can’t really take the car company’s word for it. Once the automotive press gets ahold of it and consumers can drive it, then we will have a good idea of each car’s strengths and weaknesses.
To briefly recap, electric cars have an electric drivetrain with power coming from powerful, high-tech batteries. Electric cars can be plug-ins, or feature a small, fuel-powered internal combustion engine that works as a generator to recharge the batteries. Hybrids feature a mixed electric/gas-powered drivetrain. We’ll just be covering electric cars here.
Electric Cars Scheduled for 2012
Audi e-Tron â€“ Starting in 2012, Audi will finally move into the electrical car field. This high-performance electric has been compared, performance-wise, to Audi’s R8, which features a V10 engine. Whoa. To explain how this is expected to perform, let’s look at the (preliminary) numbers. The e-Tron will have all-wheel drive powered by four electric motors, which, combined, will produce 313 horsepower and a pavement-tearing 3,319 lbs-ft of torque. The e-Tron will be a home plug-in and is said to recharge its lithium-ion battery in 6 to 8 hours. They’re also working on wireless recharging. There are no price quotes yet for this car, but by most people’s definition it will be quite expensive.
Tesla Model S – Tesla is famous for its Roadster, but they are now developing a midsize luxury sedan that can carry 5-7 passengers and go 160-300 miles on a charge (depending on the battery package). Tesla says it will recharge overnight at a home-charging station or in just 45 minutes at a “fast-charging” station. Production is scheduled to begin in mid-2012.
Mitsubishi “i” â€“ This five-door all-electric hatchback is super-cute. It runs on an array of lithium-ion batteries and has a top speed of 80 mph. This model has been available in Japan since 2006, but will finally make its American debut in late 2011 or early 2012. It can generate 133 lbs-ft of torque and it will have a range of 85 miles per full charge.
BMW i3 â€“ The BMW i3 (or MCV, Mega City Vehicle), is significant as a concept. BMW wants to revolutionize the high-performance urban electric car, for drivers in â€œmegacities.â€ This rear-wheel drive car will be made of lightweight carbon-fiber plastics and be powered by a 134-horsepower lithium-ion battery. Projected range per charge is 100 miles, a tall order, but we’re talking about the future here. It will have a one-pedal throttle/brake, meaning the quicker the pedal is pressed, the more rapid the acceleration and the quicker it’s released, the more sudden it brakes. The i3 is scheduled for a 2013 launch.
Chevrolet Volt MPV5 – This is an extended-range SUV crossover, built to provide as much cabin and cargo space as an SUV, but perform much better. The MPV5 is a larger, roomier, performance improvement over the Volt. Like the Volt, the MPV5 features a 4-cylinder internal combustion engine that will act as a generator once the car’s lithium-ion battery has expended its power. Power can also be supplied from a home outlet. The MPV5 has a top speed of 100 mph and it can travel 32 miles on electric power alone. It is expected to have a European roll-out in 2012, with its U.S. debut coming in 2013.
Did we miss any models? Please leave a comment and let us know, if so.