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Best electric sports cars: The most exciting electron-powered speed machines

Best electric sports cars: The most exciting electron-powered speed machines

Electric cars have a tendency to polarize opinions for many reasons, but one of the main gripes gearheads have is that they can just be plain dreadful to look at. Cars like the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i might put in efforts worthy of champions when it comes to fuel economy, but they’re not even title contenders when it comes to style and performance. That’s why we’ve come up with our list of the best and most exciting electric sports cars out now or on the horizon. For those looking for a bit more bite in their battery-powered vehicles, any of the following easily warrant a place in your fantasy garage.

Lighting GT

Lightning GT

Built by Britain’s the Lighting Car Company, the Lighting GT is yet another battery-powered electric supercar looking to battle it out with the likes of electric sport car makers Fisker Automotive and Tesla Motors. Visually, the Lighting GT is striking in a much more conventional manner than some of its counterparts and forgoes any real obvious electric styling cues one might typically find on a car of its kind.

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Of course breaking successfully into the elite supercar scene (and staying there) is difficult enough for even the sportiest and finely crafted gasoline chuggers, let alone battery-powered models. But LCC believes that the Lighting GT will be able to deliver the goods thanks to the car’s advanced Lithium Titanate battery, 150 mile range (225 with optional range extender pack), and claimed recharge time of 10 minutes. Rounding out the Lighting GT’s performance specs is a 300kW (400hp) twin motor powertrain that provides the GT with an estimated 0-60 time of just under 5 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 125 mph.

For those interested in purchasing the Lighting GT it remains in development, but LCC is taking pre-order sign ups on its website.

Audi R8 e-tron

Audi R8 e-tron concept

Not all the cars on this list have the luxury of being based off of an existing platform. Some purists argue that’s a good thing, while others say nay. But when that platform happens to be the oh-so-sleek Audi R8 you’ll find few complaints from us.

Visually the R8 e-tron is very much the same car as its gasoline-powered cousin, albeit a little smaller in stature. Instead of a beastly 4.2-liter V8 or 5.2-liter V10, the R8 e-tron is packing four electron-fed motors producing a combined 230 kW and 500 lb-ft of torque with an estimated 0-63 mph sprint time of 4.8 seconds. According to Audi, top speed for the R8 e-tron can theoretically reach as high as 155 miles, but has been electronically limited to 124 mph in order to protect the charge of the car’s battery.

Audi says that the R8 e-tron’s lithium-ion battery is capable of 124 miles on a single charge with a full charge taking 6-8 hours on a conventional household outlet. Thanks to the R8 e-tron’s ceramic brake discs, the sporty electric can receive an additional boost to battery power through the car’s regenerative breaking system.

Production forecasts for the R8 e-tron suggest a limited launch with the car’s sticker price expected to run as high as $200,000.

Rimac Concept One

Rimac Concept One

If the Rimac Concept One has taught us anything it’s that you don’t need to hail from a country with a rich automotive history in order to build one of the most stunning examples of automotive engineering, electric or otherwise.

For power-purists the Rimac Concept One ticks all requisite boxes making it one of the most (if not the most) powerful electric cars in the world.

The brainchild of automotive designer and successful entrepreneur Mate Rimac, the battery-powered Croatian super-car is capable of churning out the equivalent of 1,088 horsepower thanks in large part to its 92-kWh battery powering four sets of electric motors planted at each wheel. What we’re left with is a car that is capable traveling 372 miles on a single charge, can hit 0-62 mph in less than three seconds, and effortlessly reaches a top speed just below 190 mph.

For those that dare to dream: the Rimac Concept One will wage a silent — electric motor driven — war on your wallet with a sky-high sticker price of $1 million, assuming of course that you can get your hands on one of the 88 models that are said to be up for grabs. Good luck.

PG Elektrus

PG Elektrus

Providing a decidedly more eccentric (or is that electric?)  approach to the electric sports car market; the Eleketrus is a Lotus-based EV currently in the works from German manufacturer PG. After having earned its stripes by primarily producing carbon-fiber electric bicycles, the company has decided to take a stab at building an electric sports car with the PG Elektrus, marking its first foray into the growing electric sports car market.

Much like the Tesla Roadster before it, the PG Elektrus is based off the Lotus Elise chassis with a healthy helping of carbon fiber utilized throughout its bodywork.

Details regarding the Elektrus powertrain are limited, as are any specifics relating to availability. But according to PG, the Elektrus will be surprisingly swift and nimble with total curb weight of less than 2,000 pounds, a 0-62 time  that clocks in at under three seconds, and a top speed of 155 mph. And like virtually all the cars on our list it won’t be cheap: think somewhere north of $350,000 and you’re on the right track.

Fisker Karma

2012 Fisker Karma

If mo’ money equates to mo’ problems, shouldn’t the opposite hold true? Well, sadly that doesn’t seem to be the case with Fisker Automotive and the company’s beleaguered Karma extended-range plug-in hybrid. But we digress, and despite Fisker’s very public trouble with finances and the Karma’s reported mechanical issues what we have in the Karma is an attractive plug-in with just enough style and performance to make it one of the better looking plug-in hybrids today. Why else would Justin Bieber drive one, right?

For those still unfamiliar with the Karma, the sporty plug-in utilizes both a gasoline engine and an electric motor. The electric makeup of Karma consists of two 120 kW electric motors that derive power from a 20 kWh lithium-ion battery. The Karma’s engine is comprised of a GM-sourced 2.0-liter direct-injected and turbocharged four-cylinder engine capable of producing 260-hp. The Karma carries a top speed of 125 mph and can accelerate from 0-60 mph in 6.3 seconds.

As far as sports cars go, the Karma is a bit of a porker with curb weight of over 5,000 pounds.

When compared to all-electric vehicles like the Tesla Model S and Nissan Leaf, the Karma’s all-electric range is rather low, but on par with other plug-in hybrids like the Chevy Volt. According to Fisker, the Karma can go 32 miles on its battery alone while the vehicle’s  total overall range increases to 230 miles when used in conjunction with its gasoline engine.

The Fisker Karma is available nationwide with a base price of $102,000.

Fisker Atlantic

Fisker Atlantic

We don’t know all the ins and outs of the Fisker Atlantic just yet, but we know we like it based off its windswept design alone. The Atlantic, formerly known as Project Nina, will serve as the California start up’s second extended-range plug-in hybrid behind the Fisker Karma and look to carve out a space for itself in the small luxury car segment.

Concrete details regarding the Atlantic remain thin: how much will it cost; when will it make it to production; and what exactly will be powering this beautiful pile of sheetmetal? At this point all those questions remain unanswered. But it’s rumored the Atlantic’s MSRP will fall between $50,000 and $60,000 greenbacks, and employ a four-cylinder BMW-sourced engine.

Fisker is currently taking pre-orders for the Atlantic with a minimum $5,000 deposit required.

Porsche 918 Spyder

Porsche 918 Spyder

Only a few cars on our list can claim the kind of sports car pedigree Porsche posseses, which is why the 918 Spyder is shaping up to be one of the more exciting plug-in hybrids on the horizon.

While a lot of electric sports cars can be limited by their electric drivetrains, heavy battery packs, and restricted range, Porsche seems to have all that covered with the 918 Spyder. Porsche’s plug-in will sport a thunderous 4.6-liter V8 engine that easily spits out a fly-by-the-edge-of-your-seat 500 horsepower. Not content with 500 galloping horses? Neither is Porsche, which is why the 918 Spyder will see another 280 hp added to the mix courtesy of its twin electric motors for a combined output of 780 hp.

Needless to say the 918 spyder is going to be fast. Estimates echoing out of Stuttgart place the plug-in supercar’s top speed at 210 miles per hour with a 0-60 time of just 2.9 seconds.

Of course half the fun of tearing up the asphalt in a suped-up green machine is the fuel economy right? As it turns out, Porsche estimates the 918 Spyder’s fuel economy should sit nice and tidy at 78 mpg. Throw in a regenerative breaking system, a carbon-fiber reinforced plastic monocoque, and a curb weight of less than 3,300 pounds and we just might have a breakaway winner in the plug-in supercar segment.

Deliveries for the 918 Spyder are expected to take place by the end of 2013, and will reportedly command $845,000. 

Porsche Panamera Plug-in

Porsche Panamera Plug-in

Porsche’s Panamera plug-in remains somewhat of a mystery. Whether the automotive gods are heeding our prayers for a “greener” version of the German automaker’s four-door sporty sedan remains to be seen, but if our “Spyder” sense has taught us anything it’s that there’s no limit to what can happen in the build up to a new automotive offering, especially one sporting a plug-in powertrain.

With that being said, it’s looking likely that we’ll see the Panamera plug-in as the car is said to share the same modular setup that is being developed for the entire Volkswagen Group. Other than the fact that the Panemera plug-in will utilize a traditional internal combustion engine and an electric drive system, we can’t speak to any specifics regarding range or performance.

Scuttlebutt surrounding the car suggests that we should see the Panamera plug-in enter into production sometime in 2014.

Jaguar C-X75

Jaguar C-X75

They say money can’t buy happiness, but we disagree. We’d be pretty darn happy with enough scratch to jump into Jaguar’s upcoming supercat and formerly jet-powered C-X75.

Making it’s bow at the 2010 Paris Motor Show, the C-X75 is in many ways the spiritual successor to Jaguar’s previous concept-turned-reality XJ220. Unlike the XJ220, the C-X75 will pack a 1.6-liter turbo engine paired with an electric drive system consisting of four 145 kW (194 hp) electric motors – one at each wheel – which will produced a combined 780 hp. Total torque output for this thunderous cat will purr at 1,180 lb-ft with an all-electric range said to be in the region of 31 miles.

The production version of the C-X75 will feature an ultra-lightweight carbon-fiber chassis helping the innovate Jag reach tops speeds in excess of 200 mph and a 0-60 mph in less than three seconds.

BMW i8

BMW i8

With production of the BMW i8’s internal combustion engine set to commence at the company’s Hams Hall plant located near Birmingham, England the i8 edges ever so closer to reality.

Originally debuting at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show as a production bound concept car, the BMW i8 is an extended-range plug-in electric and slots in alongside the Bavarian automakers all-electric i3 city car, with which it will share an electric drive system.

Built from the ground up as the German’s production-bound, plug-in performance offering, the BMW i8 will employ a three-cylinder gasoline engine alongside dual electric motors powered by a 7.2 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Top speed for the i8 will be limited to 155 mph, while the car is said to scoot from 0-62 mph in 4.6 seconds. Combined, the i8 will be capable of producing 393 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque.

Fuel economy should be equally respectable with the i8 able to travel 20 miles on a single charge of its battery while its gasoline engine should see mileage returns somewhere in between 33 and 47 mpg. However, BMW indicates that figure can jump as high as 87 mpg when driven with more fuel-minded frugality.

Production for the BMW i8 is believed to begin in 2014. And while an official price point has yet to be released, all signs point to very expensive.

Tesla Model S

2012 Tesla Model S

Making a case — and a rather compelling one at that — for a future filled with electric cars, the Tesla Model S, the second vehicle from California start up Tesla Motors (the first being the Lotus-based Roadster) is an ever-so-sleek electric vehicle capable of traveling up to 160 miles on a single charge.

Technically more luxury sedan than sports car, the Model S warrants its place on our list by virtue of its unabashed nod to performance and style. Apart from being hypnotically easy on the eyes, the top of the line Signature Performance version of the Model S is able to hit 0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds and reach a maximum speed of 130 mph.

Starting price for the standard Model S is set at $56,500, while subsequent battery upgrades (the base Model S features a 42 kWh lithium-ion battery) to 60 kWh or 85 kWh — which can increase total driving range to 230 miles and 300 miles respectively — will see that figure rise north of $100,000.

The Model S is available now, but those looking to purchase will need to get in line as there is currently a rather long waiting list.

DeLorean DMC-12 EV

DeLorean DMCEV-12

Great Scott! After slipping away into the automotive nether realm, the iconic gull-winged Delorean DMC-12 is back thanks to Humble Texas’ reborn DeLorean Motor Company. But instead of packing the original’s hefty V6 engine and running on dredged up dino-juice, it’s now kitted out with fresh new 149 kW motor pumping out 200 hp that would make Doc Brown proud.

Dubbed the DMCEV-12, the all-electric version of the original car, which went into production back in 1981, is said to reach 60 miles in 4.9 seconds and hit its full stride at 125 mph. Total range for the car is unavailable, but estimates place it somewhere between 75 and 100 miles on a single charge depending on driving conditions.

According to the DeLorean Motor Company, the DMCEV-12 will go on sale in 2013 and is expected to sell for $100,000. Now if only we had Marty McFly’s almanac from the future we could easily scrape together the funds to purchase one for ourselves.

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