Wednesday May 16, 2012 07:15

New Developments in Electric Cars

Posted by Randy

Rising gas prices and improved technology combine to make electrics more appealing than ever. Or at least that seems to be the prediction of auto makers.

American car makers, not previously all that enthused about electrics or hybrids, are getting into the game in a big way. GM will continue to market the plug-in hybrid Volt, and has introduced another plug-in hybrid model, the Opel Ampera, for the European market. There are also rumors of a Cadillac electric coming in 2013, and a plug-in hybrid SUV that seats five.

Ford plans to introduce no less than five electric car models in 2012. Leading the pack is the Focus Electric, a pure battery-powered vehicle that also incorporates a large percentage of recycled material in its manufacture and other eco-friendly features. It gets about 70 miles to a charge and, using a 240-volt recharge station, recharges its batteries in three to four hours.

The Japanese

Nissan will continue marketing a new version of its Leaf with half the recharge time of the 2011 version. Mitsubishi will introduce the I MiEV (don’t ask me how to pronounce that), which is a strange-looking bubble-topped bit of technology that has a lower price tag than most electrics: about $28,000 when electrics and hybrids usually run $30,000 to $35,000. It’s also the lightest standard electric on the market at 2,800 pounds.

Toyota will buck the trend toward smaller electric cars with its Rav4 EV, an electric version of Toyota’s SUV. This will be the first all-electric Toyota offered to the general public. The company’s Scion IQ EV will be reintroduced, but as before it will be offered only to car-sharing services and fleets.


The big news coming out of European auto makers in the electric-car field is from BMW, which will introduce the i3 all-electric and the i8 plug-in hybrid.

Other European car makers will also offer electrics, but they’re a bit non-standard. Included in this category is the KTM E3W, a three-wheeled vehicle made entirely of plastic. It’s a two-seater, travels a bit over 60 miles on a charge, and costs a pittance at roughly $7,250.

The Schluckspecht E is another non-standard car. It has a top speed of only 28 mph and only seats one person, but has a range of more than a thousand miles on a charge.

Volkswagen is also introducing a single-seat electric that’s designed mainly for commuters. Details on the new VW are lacking but it may resemble the L1 concept car that the company introduced some years back.

A Trend?

It remains to be seen how well the new electrics will sell. However, there’s no doubt that car makers are putting more than a toe in the water. The factors that favor no-gas cars are with us, aren’t going away, and will only increase as time goes by.

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