With gas prices rising all over the world, people are looking for something–anything–that can provide an alternative to the gas-powered vehicles that take a negative toll on their wallet and the planet.
Two years ago, we were wondering who killed the electric car, but now electric vehicles are all over the news and green websites like Care2. But how much do you really know about electric vehicle technology and which manufacturers are producing it? If you can’t tell the difference between a hybrid and a Hummer, this post is here to help.
>>Up Next: Electric Vs. Gasoline
The main difference, as you’ll see in the chart below, is that electric vehicles can drastically reduce your greenhouse gas emissions as well as dependence on foreign oil. No, electric vehicles are not a magic pill that will instantly cure climate change, but they’re a MASSIVE step in the right direction.
On the following pages, you’ll find pictures and details that will guide you through the top 5 all-electric cars of 2011. Keep these makes and models in the back of your mind…you’re going to be seeing a lot more of them in the future!
>>Up Next: The Nissan LEAF
Image Credit: hybridcars.com
The Nissan LEAF is one of the few all-electric passenger vehicles that was designed with the mainstream market in mind. It can seat up to 5 passengers, has 5 doors, and a range of 100 miles per charge. It’s powered by a 24 kWh lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery, and has a variety of different features, ranging from push button ignition, to navigation and LED headlights.
With a price tag of just under $33,000, and federal and state tax rebates that reduce that price by roughly $10,000, the Nissan LEAF has been called the first electric vehicle with commercial potential. People were so excited about the affordability of the Nissan LEAF that there were 20,000 reserved before the first one even rolled off the line. Nissan is working with key cities across the U.S. to roll out charging stations so that LEAF drivers will never run out of juice.
>>Up Next: Chevy Volt
Image Credit: Flickr – cliff1066
Ok, so this is supposed to be a list of all-electric cars, and technically the Volt is a plug-in hybrid, but we think it’s got potential, so it made the list.
The fact of the matter is the Volt IS an electric car, with all the zero-emissions goodness that entails. But it also has a back-up system that will help reassure people that they won’t be stuck on the side of the highway if and when the charge runs down. When the battery is drained of energy, a gas engine kicks in which works a generator that re-energizes the battery. Because this generator is only for the battery, and doesn’t run the powertrain, the Volt is a little more electric than hybrid.
The Volt features two LCD screens that display speed, battery power, range to recharge or re-fill as well as an efficiency gauge that gives you real-time feedback. Some models also feature elements recycled from booms used to clean up the Gulf oil spill. The Volt is also a little pricier than the LEAF, at around $40,000 before applicable rebates and tax credits.
>>Up Next: Tesla Roadster
Image Credit: Flickr – kykorvette
When you think “eco-friendly car” the image of a sports car speeding down the highway probably isn’t what springs to mind. That’s what makes the Tesla Roadster so unique: it’s the only vehicle on the market that delivers supercar performance with zero tailpipe emissions.
With a handmade, carbon fiber frame, the newest Roadster can accelerate from 0-60+ mph in less than four seconds and consumes no petroleum. Able to be plugged into any conventional socket, the Roadster can travel about 240 miles on a single charge. Tesla is also developing a roomy Model S hatchback that starts at $57,400, which is about half the price of the Roadster (yikes!) and will have remarkable electric range options of 130 to 300 miles per charge. The Clean Fleet Report also tells us that Tesla is working with shareholder Toyota to bring back the Toyota RAV4 EV, an electric SUV.
>>Up Next: Coda from CODA
Image Credit: Tesla Motors
Southern California company CODA Automotive announced plans to bring a new electric car to the U.S. in 2010. The all-electric sedan is based on an existing gas-powered four-door car, known as the Hafei Saibao 3, built in Harbin, China. The CODA Sedan is final assembled in California but features components and subsystems manufactured all over the world.
The CODA can seat up to 4 passengers, maxes out at around 80 mph (not your grandma’s EV), features a real-world driving range of 90 to 120 miles on a single charge (US06 test cycle), and is powered by a lithium ion battery. MSRP for the CODA sedan will be around $44,000, and it’s eligible for almost $10,000 in government tax incentives. You can reserve yours online now for only $499!
>>Up Next: Ford Focus Electric
Image Credit: CODA Automotive
Not to be left in the dust by domestic competitor Chevrolet, Ford is also dabbling in the land of the electric car with the Focus Electric, an all electric reinvention of its ultra-efficient compact.
The new reincarnation of the Focus will seat 5 and feature an aerodynamic 5-door hatchback design with an expected range of 100 miles per charge. Reviewers of the Focus EV loved the higher speed on-board charger which allows it to be charged from standard “Level 2″ 240 V home charging docks in half the time of a first generation LEAF—adding about 30 miles of driving range per hour of charging.
Although it probably won’t have the flashy marketing campaigns of the LEAF or blow your hair back like the Tesla, there’s something comforting about the fact that the Focus Electric is specifically designed to appeal to the ordinary commuter who’s just looking for a dependable electric car with a liveable price tag. The first Focus Electric’s are slated to hit the market toward the end of 2011. So far, no official pricing is available, but experts say it will be cheaper than the LEAF.
This is the first in a weekly series of Care2 posts about alternative fuels and vehicles in honor of Earth Day! Stay tuned for the next installment.