Best Electric Cars: A roundup of EVs out now and coming soon

Tesla Model S

2012 Tesla Model S

The Tesla Model S is a full-size battery electric Sedan from Tesla Automotive, which is perhaps just as well known for its enigmatic CEO — PayPal co-founder, Elon Musk — as its sporty and luxurious electric cars. The base version of the Model S features a total electric range of 160 miles from a 42 kWh lithium-ion battery, and a top speed of 110 mph. Starting price for the standard Model S is set at $56,500, while subsequent battery upgrades to 60 kWh and 85 kWh, which can increase total driving range to 230 miles and 300 miles respectively — will see that figure jump to over $100,000. Performance measurements seem rather impressive with the Signature Performance version of the Model S able to hit 0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds and reach a maximum speed of 130 mph.

Unlike most of the electric cars slates to hit the market, the Model S will not be limited to certain roll-out states. Instead, deliveries for the car is set to begin in June, with Tesla confirming more than 10,000 reservations already placed.

Ford Focus Electric

2012 Ford Focus Electric

Ford has entered unfamiliar territory with the 2012 Ford Focus Electric. As its name clearly suggests, the newly remodeled Focus features an all-electric powertrain, forgoes a gasoline engine, and represents Ford’s first full-production, all-electric passenger vehicle. Until recently, Ford has remained on the fringes of the EV scene, but not anymore. The Focus Electric aims to change that all that, earning Ford a place among other major automakers pioneering the green car scene.

The Focus Electric is powered by a 100 kW electric motor and uses a 23 kWh, liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack, which is said to deliver an EPA certified (and Leaf beating) all-electric range of 76 miles and a combined fuel economy equivalent to 105 MPGe. Highway fuel economy reaches 99 MPGe, while city driving returns an improved 110 MPGe. The Focus Electric also features Ford’s latest on-board entertainment and navigation options, including a unique version of MyFord Touch, which — similar to the Nissan Leaf’s smartphone application – allows drivers to charge and control their Focus remotely via MyFord Mobile.

Honda Fit EV

Honda Fit EV

The Honda Fit EV shares the same platform as its gasoline guzzling compact counterpart. Honda’s first production all-electric is also said to use a motor derived from the company’s FCX Clarity hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. Official specifications regarding the Fit EV are still rather limited, but Honda says it will have an all-electric range of 70-100 miles and a top speed of 90 mph.

The Fit EV will feature three distinct drive modes: econ, normal, and sport. According to Honda, “econ” mode will extend the overall driving range by as much as 17 percent, while sport mode will allow the Fit EV to imitate the acceleration of a 2.0-liter gasoline engine. Rather impressive considering the Fit EV will employ a 20 kWh lithium-ion battery and a 92 kW electric motor. Official EPA figures regarding range are unavailable, but Honda places the Fit EV’s city range at 123 MPGe with combined miles per gallon equivalent of 76 miles.

Availability for the Fit is limited to California and Oregon, while Honda says it will only produce 1,100 examples over the first three years. Access to the Fit EV will also be limited to leasing programs with a per month payment of $399for three years, based on $36,625 MSRP.

Coda Sedan

CODA Sedan

The Coda sedan is a four-door electric car built by Coda Automotive, but unless you live in the Sunshine state, don’t expect to see it on your local roads just yet. However, if you call California home, then count yourself lucky because your electric car list has expanded by one.

Coda’s all-electric sedan utilizes a 31 kWh lithium-ion iron phosphate battery system and delivers an official EPA combined fuel economy of 77 MPGe for city driving, and 68 MPGe on highways. It’s combined energy consumptions sits at 46 kWh, making it the highest among all electric cars currently available, and is capable of reaching an electronically limited top speed of 85 mph. While most electric cars tend to have that “look” which easily distinguishes them from the pack, Coda has opted to travel a different route, choosing instead a decidedly austere design that will either please, bore, or place you in a state of ambivalence.

Retail price for the 31 kWh battery starts at $37,250. Coda also offers a version of its sedan bundled with a 35 kWh battery pack that is expected to fetch 25 miles of additional range, which is priced at just below $40,000.

Toyota RAV4 EV

Toyota RAV4 EV

You might not realize it, but the 2012 RAV4 EV will be the second incarnation of the compact crossover SUV. Toyota originally produced the first iteration of all-electric Rav 4’s from 1997 to 2002 when it met an early demise. But rather than shamble from the scrap yard like a zombie, Toyota employed the help of Tesla Motors in developing the RAV4 EV’s all-new electric battery pack and motor. According to Toyota, the second-gen RAV4 EV will feature a total range of 100 miles on a single charge of its 41.8 kWh lithium-ion battery. Top speed for Toyota’s electric SUV tops out at 85 mph, and includes two driving modes: normal and “sport mode,” which is said to provide some added punch to the car’s overall performance and increase top speed to 100 mph, albeit at the cost of battery efficiency.

Toyota has priced the RAV4 EV just under $50,000 and will begin to selling the car summer 2012 in California with only 2600 examples planned for production. Toyota has indicated it will eventually sell the RAV4 EV outside of California, but any official details have yet to be released. If you’re thinking of going green, but require more space than what’s typically on offer, the RAV4 EV just might be your best bet.

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