2011 is being heralded by auto industry insiders as the “year of the electric car”. Though we here at Metaefficient endorse a life free of dependency upon cars, 100% electric vehicles are certainly more fuel efficient than internal combustion vehicles and may be on their way to becoming user-friendly as well.
For 2011 consumers interested in electric vehicles will have an array of options to choose from.Currently, the biggest news makers are Nissan with its’ 100% electric powered Leaf and Chevrolet with the Volt, while other major car companies have electric vehicles in development. Since sales of hybrid cars have increased while new car sales overall has decreased, manufacturers are confident that people are ready to embrace electric vehicles. Forecast predictions are optimistic. Executive Vice President of Nissan, Carlos Tavares, anticipates that “electric vehicles will account for 10 percent of all cars sold globally by 2020”. Though with the cost of an electric car still hovering above the $30,000 mark, other industry experts disagree. Here’s an overview of what’s available and what to look for in the coming year.
2011 Nissan Leaf
The 2011 Nissan Leaf launches the official beginning to mass market production of a 100% electric powered vehicle. Powered by an 80 kilowatt electric motor using a 24 kWh lithium-ion battery, the Nissan Leaf boasts swift acceleration with an ultra-quiet cabin and speeds up to 90 mph. On a full charge, the Leaf has a range of 62-138 miles depending upon driving conditions. The EPA rating on the Leaf is 106 mpg city, 92 mpg highway, and 99 mpg combined with an estimated driving range of 73 miles. Recharging the battery at home will take around 4-8 hours. A commercial charge station can charge it in 30 minutes. The standard navigation system will display charging stations available along your route. Nissan says the average life of the battery is 5-10 years depending on usage. With the $7,500 federal tax savings applied, the cost of the Nissan Leaf comes down from the MSRP price of $32,780 to $25,280.
2011 Chevrolet Volt
Though technically a hybrid, the 2011 Chevrolet Volt is being included in the electric vehicle category because it is able to operate in an electric-only mode. After traveling about 40 miles on a 111 kilowatt, 149 horsepower electric motor, the onboard gasoline powered generator kicks in to supply the electricity needed to travel another 300 miles. The most advance hybrid vehicle, the 2011 Chevrolet Volt has been named by Motor Trend magazine as the car of the year. Edmunds states it may be the most fuel efficient car on the market. The EPA rating on the Volt is 93 mpg equivalent using the all electric mode and 37 mpg when the gas is on. What you save in fuel economy though will be paid for at the dealership. The MSRP on the 2011 Chevy Volt is $40,280. Apply the federal tax credit and you’ll still be looking at a sticker price of at least $33,000. Also, the lithium-ion battery can only be charged at home.
2011 Tesla Roadster
So maybe you don’t have an extra 100k lying around and probably you’re name isn’t George Clooney, but there’s no denying the fact the 2011 Tesla Roadster sends a lightning bolt of sexy into owning an electric vehicle. With 288 horsepower, the carbon fiber Roadster reaches 60 mph in 3.7 seconds with a top speed of 125 mph. It can go for 245 miles on a full charge. A 2011 Tesla Roadster will set you back $109,000. But as Tesla boasts unrivaled performance and the industry’s best battery, we can only hope that the advanced engineering of Tesla will trickle down to other car companies.
Still to Come in 2011
Ford is set to unveil its’ electric version of the Ford Focus at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show. The car pictured has been featured on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno’s “Green Car Challenge”. Ford is set to release an estimated 5,000 lithium-ion battery-powered vehicles over the next couple years with an estimated range of 100 miles. BYD Auto has a line of electric vehicles manufactured in China and backed by investor, Warren Buffet. They are set to debut an all electric crossover and a plug-in hybrid SUV at the 2011 Detroit Auto show, though they may face obstacles breaking through the made in China label with U.S. consumers.
Toyota is set to release a plug-in hybrid version of the Prius in 2012. It will work similarly to the Chevy Volt, but is anticipated to cost as much as $10,000 less at a cost of $29,900 before tax incentives. Mitsubishi could beat Toyota to the under $30,000 price point though as it plans to start selling the 2012 Mitsubishi i in the U.S. beginning fall 2011. The Mitsubishi i is currently the best selling electric car in Japan and the U.S. version will be more powerful with an average 85 mile range. Honda will enter the green car price war with the electric version of the Honda Fit in 2012, also expected, perhaps optimistically, to be priced under $30,000.
Bottom line: the electric vehicle industry is knocking on the door to tomorrow, but to gain entry the cost to consumers may need to come down by developing even more efficient battery technology or by embracing the battery switching ingenuity of Better Place to appeal to a larger market. Should be interesting to watch as the auto industry battles for the electric vehicle customer. In the meantime, if you’re not ready to take the EV plunge, then you can always take the train.