Ten... e-cars and hybrids
The best plug-in hybrids and pure-play EVs
What started out as a dribble in 2011 is becoming a deluge in 2012 as e-cars in the form of pure electrics, range extenders and plug-in hybrids capabilities start to become ever more common. Until we see a major breakthrough in battery tech, the day will belong to the plug-in hybrids and REs, but that’s clearly not the view of Renault and Nissan who are ploughing a pure EV furrow.
All the cars listed here will be available to buy somewhere on the face of the planet within the next 12 months but don’t forget that plug-in hybrid versions of Ford’s Fusion/Mondeo and C-Max will be in the offing soon after, as well as e-cars from Volkswagen, BMW and Audi to name but three.
Like the Vauxhall Ampera, the Karma is a range-extended EV so while initial power comes from a 20.1kWh lithium-ion battery, additional range and more horses are served up by a turbo-charged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine. The power pack is connected to two electric motors delivering 650Nm each, which sound like enough torque to rotate a small planet.
Performance? 0-60mph in 6.3 seconds and a top speed of 123mph. Drive it carefully and the maximum electric-only range is said by Fisker to be 50 miles, but who buys a car like this to drive carefully? Take a hint from Karma’s website: EV mode is called Stealth not Economy and is good for 95mph while full bore with the petrol engine running is called Performance not Range. Until a right-hand drive version arrives in 2014 - assuming Fisker stays solvent - availability in the UK is likely to extremely limited with only a single dealership planned for London.
Availability Now (US)
Price $120,000 (£76,230)
More Info Fisker
The lights still seem to be burning bright at the Lightning Car Company, which has been working on its stunning two-door British EV supercar for a couple of years now. Since I last looked, the car has gone from four- to two-wheel drive, but the performance doesn’t seem to have suffered. The 0-60mph time is still being quoted as under five seconds and the top speed as 120mph. Power comes from a 44kWh lithium-titanate battery connected to two 150kW (201bhp) electric motors.
Made entirely from aluminium, the Lightning will have standard (15 hour), fast (2.5 hours) and ultra-fast (ten minutes!) charge options and as well as offering both regular (130 mile) and an extended (195 mile) range battery packs. I’ve yet to drive the Lightning, but I’ve seen it up close and personal, both inside and out. It’s utterly gorgeous. If you have £180,000 to hand you will be able to buy one in 12 months' time.
Availability Late 2012 (UK)
Price TBC, but approx £180,000
More Info The Lightning Car Company
Next page: Nissan Leaf
Curb side charging posts? Paid for by who? In what timescale?
You're talking about digging up *every* street in the UK, adding a power infrastructure (the current one just won't cut it for mass deployment of something like an electric car), so more and bigger substations, etc.
Then working out how to charge the correct person when someone else has parked where you were going to (on our street there's only parking for about 75% of the houses so there's a regular shuffling around depending on what time you arrive back).
Adding a petrol station just means getting a sufficiently large area of land, digging a hole for the storage, and building the station on top. It's not even comparable to what would be needed to make electric cars viable.
Leasing too pricey
Leasing should be the solution to the battery fade problem, but at £50 a month, its about the same price as I'm spending on fuel anyway, which gets rid of the operating cost savings that are supposed to be the ecar's big strength. 2 steps forward, 1 step back, honestly.
Have you ever seen a car model that fitted everyone's needs?
If you haven't, and I bet you haven't, why are you expecting electric cars to be any different?
These cars will be bought by people who think they fit their needs/wants and they will not be bought by people who don't find them suitable, for example, those who don't have a place to charge them.
But, with any luck, the cars will be improved with time and more of them will be bought, and more charging places will be available and more people will buy them and ....
It won't happen automagically and it will definitely not happen by tomorrow but that doesn't mean it won't happen