Future electric car roundup: Our most anticipated EVs of 2012 and beyond

Future electric car roundup: Our most anticipated EVs of 2012 and beyond

If you’re an EV enthusiast who’s looking to buy an electric car, now is a great time to get your tailpipe off of the electric fence and see what all the buzz is about. Not only are there an abundance of electric vehicles out now, but more are on the way. While we’ve already highlighted some of the best electrics and plug-in hybrids  out now and coming soon, we figured we’d  draw attention to some of the future electric cars we’re most excited about that haven’t quite rolled out yet, but are scheduled  for production within the next couple of years.

All electric

Infiniti LE

Infiniti LE

Given that Nissan has already enjoyed success with the Nissan Leaf, it makes sense to delve into the luxury market, which is exactly what the Japanese automaker intends to do with the Infiniti LE. Based off the same platform as the Nissan Leaf, the Infiniti LE is making the leap from concept to reality and will lead the luxury nameplate’s charge into burgeoning EV marketplace.

While the Infiniti LE can be lazily described as a derivation of its pioneering all-electric sibling — since both cars do share the same platform, 106.3-inch wheelbase, and a more powerful 134 horsepower version of the Leaf’s electric drivetrain — the LE is a different, and more refined, beast altogether.  For starters, it’s a  more stylized car, featuring strong flowing lines while forgoing any real semblance of an EV. And unlike the Leaf’s polarizing five-door hatchback design, the LE is a four-door sedan.

The LE ups its game over the Leaf by incorporating a 100 kW motor (the Leaf features an 80 kW motor) cranking out 240 lb-ft of immediately available to the front wheels. Nissan predicts the LE’s 34-kilowatt will feature a total driving range of 100 miles, although we imagine that will be under “optimal” conditions with typical road driving netting less than that.

But perhaps one of the most intriguing differences between the LE and Leaf will be the former’s wireless charging system. According to Nissan, the company is strongly considering implementing a wireless inducting charging system in the production model that would allow owners to charge their LE wirelessly over a charging pad embedded in the floor of a garage or parking space.

The Infiniti LE is expected to go into production in 2014, with no firm pricing or availability details available at this time.

Tesla Model X

Tesla Model X

One of the electric cars on the horizon we’re most excited about is Tesla Motor’s stylish Model X. Virtually everything about the Model X is smart. From the car’s sleek design to its undeniably cool falcon doors, the Model X is not your run of mill crossover, and that visual flair carries over into the interior as well. Panoramic glass sweeps around the cabin, the dashboard is stunningly futuristic, and for the tech-geek in us all, Tesla’s vivid NVIDIA-powered touchscreen is by far the most dazzling in-car displays we’ve seen so far.

But it’s not all form over function. Tesla says the Model X was intended as a “family car with performance roots,” and it shows. Unlike your typical SUV, the Model X was designed to go fast, and it does. Customers will be able to choose either a 60 or 85 kWh battery with one of three drivetrain configurations: real wheel drive, dual motor all-wheel drive, and a Model X Performance all-wheel drive. The latter is able to hit 0-60 in under five seconds.

Tesla says production for the Model X is slated to begin late 2013 while deliveries should begin early 2014. Reservations for the vehicle are currently offered with a $5,000 minimum deposit required. No official word on pricing, but Tesla has hinted at a price tag comparable to a similarly equipped Model S.

BMW i3

BMW i3

Originally known as the MegaCity concept, the BMW i3 will be the first mass production electric vehicle under the German automaker’s new i brand when it rolls out next year.

As is the case with most electric cars and hybrids, issues surrounding weight tends to arise due to the heavy battery packs required to power the car’s electric motor. So what solution did the industrious engineers come up with? Well, it appears that BMW has tackled this issue by incorporating generous amounts of carbon fiber throughout the i3’s internal structure and body — consequently making the i3 the first mass production car to do so. Bravo Bavarians!

Underneath the surface lies the i3’s electric drive system which — more than likely – – will consist of the original prototype’s 22 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. BMW says performance is a key component to the i3’s dynamic driving experience and, as such, features a rear axle-mounted electric motor capable of producing 170 horsepower with an electronically governed top speed of 93 mph. If you have a need for speed, acceleration should be ample with the i3 expected to sprint from 0-62 mph in less than 8 seconds.

BMW plans for a limited U.S. launch with first examples headed to California, New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey. Pricing remains unconfirmed but is expected to be around $35,000. Although with all that carbon fiber we’d be surprised if that figure didn’t rocket skywards.

Audi R8 e-tron

Audi R8 e-tron

Easily one of the sportiest (if not the sportiest) electric car on this list is the Audi R8 e-tron. We have to hand it to Audi: the premium brand of the Volkswagen Group has really outdone itself with its electric supercar.

Based on the existing R8 platform — but packing four independent electric motors mounted at both the rear and front axles driving all four wheels, and with a combined output of 230 kW (308 hp) — the R8 e-tron will easily be one of the most powerful electric cars available when it arrives next year. According to Audi, the battery-powered R8 will make the jump from 0-62 mph in 4.8 seconds (for those keeping track that’s only 0.2 seconds slower than the V8-powered R8, not bad eh?) with an electronically limited top speed of 124 mph. Audi says top speed could theoretically reach upwards to 150 mph but was lowered to preserve the battery charge. Target range on a single charge of its battery is expected hover around 150 miles.

Although the R8 e-tron is incredibly similar to its gasoline counterpart, it measure in a little smaller than the standard R8. With its first production electric, Audi chose not to build  platform from the ground up, but rather utilized the already stunning R8 design. And can you blame them? The R8 is already a masterpiece in automotive engineering and adapting it to fit an electric powertrain only makes sense given its already dynamic design.

Production plans for the R8 e-tron will be conducted in limited numbers, with pricing expected to run in the region of $200,000.


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