All-electric vehicles like Tesla's Model X will be more common a decade from now.
Debate still rages on thebest way to sell electric cars
. Should automakers be boasting of their environmental credentials? Or should they talk in a language people understand -- money -- and highlight the economic benefits? Maybe it's all about silence and refinement? Rarely mentioned is just how funelectric cars
can be to drive. So we've taken a primal, quantitative measure of driving fun -- the 0 to 60 mph acceleration sprint -- to rank each battery-electric vehicle on sale today, or on sale soon. At the very least, this gallery will serve as a handy list of whichcars
not to try and beat from the next green light.
You probably aren't surprised by this one. The Model S is comfortably the most powerful electriccar
on sale, and while it's also the heaviest, it still offers super-sedan performance. If you like that airliner-on-takeoff feeling on your commute, this is the car to offer it.
Another car with Tesla influence (though not for much longer
) and apparently Tesla-style performance, the RAV4 is a Toyota product. With a 115 kW (154 hp), 220 lb-ft electric motor and a Sport mode, the RAV4 EV will see off most other crossovers andSUVs
at the lights. A 103-mile EPA-rated range isn't bad, either.
BMW's electric city car has attracted attention for its styling more than anything else, but with a 130 kW (170 hp) electric motor driving the rear wheels and a lightweight carbon fiber reinforced plastic chassis, it's also brisk. It's worth noting that the extra weight of the range-extended model does dull performance a little.
The key figure for the Spark EV isn't the 97 kW (130 hp) power output -- though that's not bad for such a small car. No, it's the incredible 400 pounds-feet of torque, more than a Ferrari 458 Italia. Okay, so the Ferrari is still quicker and perhaps a little more attractive too, but the Spark comfortably sees off its combustion counterparts, which is much more interesting.
Mercedes-Benz is pitching itsupcoming B-Class Electric Drive
as a rival to the BMW i3, and pricing is near-identical. It's got a little more interior space, but isn't quite as innovative in its construction and in terms of both acceleration and cornering, the BMW driver will be having more fun.
The best demonstration of the Fit EV we've yet seen hasn't really called for outright acceleration; there's a limit to how much you can usesliding around on a frozen lake
. But 8.5 seconds to 60 mph is still better than most compact cars, let alone subcompacts. And you still get all the other Fit benefits -- an agile chassis and spacious interior.
TheFiat 500E is a hoot to drive
whether you're going in a straight line or zipping around city streets, and a 0-60 dash of 9.1 seconds is similar to that of its gasoline counterparts. But let's be honest, you'd prefer to have that performance with a quiet, clean electric motor, wouldn't you?
Volkswagen's entrant into the electriccompact
sector isn't yet on sale, but it's not too bad a performer. "Around 10 seconds" is VW's estimate for the e-Golf (to 100 km/h, or 62 mph, it's 10.4). More pertinently, it's good over those first few yards too--proving fun to drive around the streets of Berlinon the car's recent launch
Like the Golf and Leaf, few will regularly do a full 0-60 mph sprint on their daily commutes, but the Focus is par for the course for acceleration performance. The Focus's main trump card is handling though -- the gasoline Focus is already widely praised, and the Electric model is also a neat handler.
The Leaf lags its compact rivals here but many owners are content to cruise around using as little energy as possible. Like allelectric vehicles
, it's pretty good over those first few feet anyway -- thank the 80 kW (110 hp) and 210 lb-ft electric motor's instant torque characteristics for that.
We've driven the electric Smart Fortwo on several occasions, andconsistently deem it a better vehicle
than its jerky gasoline siblings. It's also quicker, hitting 60 mph in the same time as the Leaf -- quite an experience in the Fortwo's upright body shape.
If you're a speed freak with a penchant for electricvehicles
, the i-MiEV probably won't be on your shopping list. The 15-second sprint has been bettered by some drivers, but as the official figure that's the one we have to run with, and it does the i-MiEV no favors. Luckily, low lease rates make it one of the cheapest electriccars
to get your hands on.
Back in 2011, the federal government announced new fuel economy standards affecting U.S. fleets through the year 2025. B
ut a handful of states aren't satisfied with combustion engines boasting 54.5 mpg: they want to put millions of battery electric and other zero-emission vehicles on American roads over the next 11 years. ALSO SEE: Google Debuts Its First Autonomous Car: Is This The Future Of (Non) Driving?
According to Auto News, California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont have formed a coalition to create new means of encouraging the adoption of zero-emission vehicles. New York governor Andrew Cuomo hopes that the group can help put 3.3 million ZEVs in service by the year 2025. The coalition's tactics for achieving that goal range from the very small to the very large, including:
Funding of public charging stations and parking zones
Uniform signage to indicate recharging/refueling areas
Will these kinds of initiatives help the coalition put 3.3 million ZEVs on the road over the next 11 years?
Maybe. The eight states included in the group account for roughly 25 percent of U.S. auto sales, so encouraging adoption in those areas could have a major influence on nationwide numbers -- even if Southern and non-coastal states remain fiercely loyal to combustion engines.
That said, the group has a long row to hoe. It's true that sales of zero- and low-emission vehicles, from plug-in hybrids and battery electrics, are up 26 percent for the year, and it's likely that hybrids in particular will continue to perform well.
However, analysts predict that true, zero-emission vehicles will remain a tough sell for the time being, and by 2020, they'll account for only about one percent of sales -- well below what's needed to reach the 3.3 million goal. DON'T MISS: 2014 Subaru Forester: SUV, Crossover, Or Wagon? We Try To Define
Many things could improve the coalition's odds, though. Better battery technology and range are perhaps the most eagerly anticipated innovations, along with faster recharging times for battery electric vehicles. The group's plan will also be helped as the price of electric vehicles comes down, so they're more on par with conventional cars. And of course, as more ZEV options arrive, they'll be appealing to a wider range of consumers.
In our opinion, the coalition has set itself a very lofty goal, but one that's doable -- provided no recessions or other adversities arise to impede the current rate of progress.
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