Five Of The Best: Electric Cars

By G.P. Thomas

Topics Covered

Introduction
Tesla Model S
Toyota RAV4 EV
Mitsubishi MiEV
Vauxhall Ampera
Renault Twizy
Sources

Introduction

Its official - the green revolution has hit the road! Every day, more news stories emerge on how the public and politicians alike are embracing electric transportation:

With the world’s leading car manufacturers lining up to become the last word on environmentally-sound travelling, the electric car is no longer a curio driven by your odd uncle in San Francisco-it is the future.

Model S Alpha & Roadster on the Road Together. Image Credit: Tesla Motors Press Centre Media

In this article we review 5 of the best electric vehicles on the market today, which are aiming to make fossil fuel extinct.

Tesla Model S

For: The family with style

The Tesla Model S is a mixed bag, in the best possible way. The car is perfect for everyday family use, but it is still a vehicle that you would want to be seen driving.

The Model S can seat 5 adults plus an additional two children using the rear-facing child seat option. Equipped with eight airbags and employing the LATCH (Lower Anchors and Teths for Children) System, there is no concern for family safety. Even the battery is designed for safety and shuts off automatically in the event of a crash. It also has a potential 66 cubic feet of storage-perfect for moving in to college or long family holidays.

However, this is not just a car designed to make road trips more bearable. With almost 50/50 weight distribution, a low centre of gravity and rear wheel drive, the Model S is a car worthy of driving for pure enjoyment. Build to perform equally well in warm or cold weather this is truly a car for every season. And with an acceleration of 0-60Mph in 5.6 seconds, it is no snail either. The icing on the cake is a stylish interior of high quality and an advanced dashboard with intuitive response.

Model S Signature - Signature Red. Image Credit: Tesla Motors Press Centre Media

Of course, the green credentials are remarkable, with absolutely no tail pipe emissions and up to 300 miles with every battery charge. Even the interior is sustainable, with 60% recycled seating surfaces as standard. This car is an all-round machine for every occasion and a perfect long-term investment, and will hit the market in summer 2012.

5 of the best - Quick Facts

Tesla Model S

Seats

5 (plus 2 children)

0-60 mph in…

5.6 seconds

Storage space

68 cubic feet

Miles per Charge

Up to 300

Price

From $49 900

Toyota RAV4 EV

For: SUV lovers with a guilty conscious

Driving a Sports Utility Vehicle often gets a lot of bad press. Though SUVs are great in terms of safety and storage, their emissions and gas consumption often makes them easy targets for disgruntled environmentalists.

Well Toyota has now come up with a way you can keep driving the behemoth you love without being a social outcast. This is the new EV model of the extremely popular RAV4 series, which keeps the positive aspects of the SUV and adds the positive aspects of an electric vehicle.

RAV4 EV. Image Credit: Toyota USA Press Centre Media

What makes the RAV4 one of the most popular SUV’s in the world in the first place is the great comfort, the versatility and ability to drive just about anywhere and the incredible storage space.

None of this has been compromised, with the cargo space still huge at 73.0 cubic feet and a low centre of gravity for good handling. On top of this, the 41.8-kWh Lithium-ion battery allows a driving range of around 100miles in the real world, and the drag coefficient is about as low as it can be for an SUV. All completely emission free! The RAV4 EV rolls onto roads in summer 2012.

5 of the best - Quick Facts

Toyota RAV4 EV

Production

2,600 during the first three years

0-60Mph in…

7 seconds

Storage space

73 cubic feet

Miles per Charge

Around 100

Price

From $49 800

Mitsubishi MiEV

For: The Eco-friendly Economist

An electric car of the smaller variety now, but it is one with some very big claims. The Mitsubishi i-MIEV, or “i” for short, may look like a futuristic beetle, but it is the most fuel efficient electric car on the market. On certain tariffs the cars can be charged for 12 000 miles of driving on a measly $350.

While some may see the size as a disadvantage, it is perfect for city driving and will squeeze into the tightest of parking spaces. However with space for only 4 adults, it may not be the best choice for family vacations.

EU Spec iMiEV. Image Credit: © Copyright Mitsubishi Limited

Not only is it efficient, but the thrifty amongst you can rejoice as this modern marvel can be yours for as little as $29,125. In the UK a government grant of £5000 can also be obtained. This car proves you don’t have to be rich to change the world. These cars are available worldwide now.

Click here to view a comprehensive test drive and public opinion of the MiEV.

 

5 of the best - Quick Facts

Mitsubishi MiEV

Seats

4

Further Savings

No road tax, free parking, exempt from London Congestion Charge

Miles per Charge

93

Completely flat to fully charged…

7 hours

Price

From US $29 125

Vauxhall Ampera

For: Those who like a car with a backup plan

A car that has all-round ability, and a clever trick up its sleeve. The Ampera certainly looks good, with smooth design and a futuristic ‘infotainment’ dashboard, as well as 17-inch, five-spoke sport alloy wheels that are separated to reduce drag.

The sporty hatchback also has a capacity of 300litres, is extremely quiet to drive and even though it only has two seats, they are more than accommodating for two fully grown adults. The Ampera can be charged from a household power supply in 6 hours and can be programmed to charge at specific times so it is never an inconvenience.

Vauxhall Ampera. Image Credit: Vauxhall Media UK

What really makes this car stand out though is the 1.4-litre ‘range-extending’ petrol generator. If you find yourself in the middle of the Nevada desert with your battery running flat, the car will enter extended range mode, which employs a separate petrol generator that extends your travel by up to 360miles, hopefully meaning that been stranded in the middle of nowhere is not a possibility. Some might say it is not a truly electric car, but in essence it is simply an electric car with a back-up system should the need be critical.

It’s a car with awards to back up its claims. On top of being named Top Gear Magazine and What Car? Magazine Green Car Of The Year 2011, it has recently been named European Car Of The Year 2012 and has been given a 5 star crash test rating by Euro NCAP.

Not that this quality is cheap though-the car starts from around $50616 and is available worldwide.

5 of the best - Quick Facts

Vauxhall Ampera

Seats

4

Awards

European Car Of The Year 2012, 5*NCAP rating

0-60Mph in

Less than 9 seconds

Completely flat to fully charged…

6 hours

Price

From US $50616

Renault Twizy

For: The fun (and slightly crazy) trendsetter

If you thought the Mitsubishi ‘i’ was a squeeze, then look away now. The Renault Twizy a fully electric, compact two-seater (the first of its kind) and is designed with the city in mind. It has an innovative design and comes with three different trims: Urban, Colour and Technic. The Twizy is one of the centrepieces of the new Renault Z.E. electric vehicle series, which also includes the Fluence saloon, Kangoo van and Zoe micromini, which will be released at various points over the next two years, so keep your eyes peeled.

As fun as the Twizy seems, one may question if it is really a car in the truest sense, and not more akin to a 4 wheeled moped. The top speed of 50Mph is hardly flying, and as the Twizy is classed as a ‘quadricycle’, it does not need to be subjected to the same crash testing as a standard car, according to EU regulations.

Image Credit:Wikimedia Commons

The Twizy aready has one famous admirer in the form of David Guetta, the world famous D.J has been involved in designing graphics and music to promote the Twizy. I strongly recommend viewing this, even if you have no interest in music or electric cars! http://twizy.renault.com/uk/index_3d.html

Many people may question the validity of such a small vehicle. Of course with electric cars being far more sustainable, car-sharing is less of a weighty issue. Could these nimble little cars be the transport of choice in the future? Time will tell…

5 of the best - Quick Facts

Renault Twizy

Seats

2

Weight

881lbs

Top speed

50Mph

Completely flat to fully charged…

3.5 hours

Price

From US $10 479

 

Don’t know your exhaust from your wiper? Read our handy guide on the theory and mechanics behind electric vehicles.

Sources

Date Added: Jun 1, 2012 | Updated: Jun 25, 2014
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