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Six Major Pre-Production Electric Vehicles Compared

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Posted 02-03-2009 at 01:05 PM by rbgrn

With all of the hype surrounding hybrid vehicles today, I thought I'd do some research and post my findings on the next generation of fully electric and plug-in hybrids. The fully-electric EV has had a bad name in the past, mostly due to insufficient battery technology, politics, lack of performance models and other factors. Starting this year with the Tesla Roadster, the EV is going to take on a new form in the eyes of John Q Public. Quiet, efficient EVs will start to become commonplace in the next few years as major manufacturers go into production with the newest generation of vehicle sporting more powerful motors, efficient generators and the latest battery technology.

The big change will be the introduction of full EVs and plug-in hybrids. Full EVs are as one would expect: A fully electric vehicle that uses no other fuels. A plug-in hybrid is a vehicle that uses electricity as its primary power source and is equipped with a generator that supplements electricity as-needed. Many of the plug-in hybrids have an electric-only range of 30-60 miles with an extended range of 400-700 miles. The difference to the consumer is the way in which the vehicle is charged. Traditional hybrids are powered primarily by gas and thus need to be refueled regularly. Plug-in hybrids plug in at home and to most people that means they park the car at home, plug it in overnight and it's ready to go the next morning. This means that if you're driving less than your EV range each day, you'll never need to put a drop of gas into the car. How nice does that sound?

The following table is a consolidation of data collected from many different sources, cited at the bottom of this article. It has many key points that the average person may be interested in. Much of the data is still not readily available due to the pre-production and concept status of some of the models. I will do my best to keep this chart up-to-date.

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As you can see from the production dates, four out of six of the vehicles are scheduled to be in production in 2010 but the other two, the Tesla Roadster and Aptera are scheduled for production in 2008. Both companies are currently taking pre-orders. Estimated production numbers are difficult to find but Chevy has claimed 60,000 in the first year.

Performance is a hot issue with EVs and this generation is no doubt going to address that. I calculated a figure where applicable which divides the vehicles weight in pounds into its peak power rating. The resulting number gives an indication for how well the vehicle should be able to accelerate. While numbers are only available for a few cars, the Tesla Roadster easily takes the lead with a a 0-60 of 4 seconds and a 68.5 Watt/Pound ratio. This should prove to many that EVs are now capable of being mainstream performance cars.

Most of these plug-in hybrids are expected to have a 3-cylinder turbo diesel or gasoline generator which usually produces slightly more than the continuous power rating of the car. Translation: You can drive as far as you want with this car only refueling and not having to recharge. This alone should resolve many people's fears of range with EVs.

The Aptera is one of the most interesting vehicles here with its very aerodynamic, futuristic design and high range specifications. It comes in two models: Fully EV and Hybrid. The Full EV model is estimated to be $26,900 and the Hybrid at $29,900.

The Mitsubishi MiEV Sport is supposed to compete with the Tesla Roadster but currently it stands at a peak rating of only 87kW which is less than half of the roadsters. Without an upgrade, it would have to weigh a mere 1,000 pounds to be able to achieve the same level of acceleration. My prediction is that future announcements will show significant increases in power and reductions in weight.

Two other vehicles not on the list are the Nissan Mixim and the Tesla Whitestar. Both are concept sedans but are lacking substantial data to present.

My current pick is the Chevy Volt for being the most practical car announced. Price hasn't been mentioned but it's expected to be affordable. It has a reasonable amount of power, a huge extended range and should be roomy enough for most. It may also help that GM has experience with EVs from the EV1 test deployment, which was the subject of the documentary "Who killed the electric car?"

Overall things are looking good for the future of EVs. With so many large companies backing the technologies, there are sure to be plenty of high quality vehicles to pick from at reasonable prices in the next several years.

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  1. Old Comment
    mattW's Avatar
    That table would be a good thing to have in the wiki, but tables are a formatting nightmare. But i guess you could screen shot it and then just link it as a picture (but then you couldn't edit it). Any ways just a though
    Posted 11-19-2007 at 09:44 PM by mattW mattW is offline
  2. Old Comment
    The Tesla Roadster charges in 3.5 hours and has a 245 mile range?? Amazing!

    Too bad it's a little out of my price range.
    Posted 11-19-2007 at 10:07 PM by pandaran pandaran is offline
  3. Old Comment
    rbgrn's Avatar
    They say 3.5 but the math doesn't really make sense to me on that...

    Other than that, I'm excited for all the new models to start hitting the streets!

    mattW - I'll tough it out and get it into the wiki this week.
    Posted 11-19-2007 at 11:25 PM by rbgrn rbgrn is offline
  4. Old Comment
    Commuter Cars has already delivered at least one Tango EV -to George Clooney. Narrower than a Honda GoldWing's handlebars, the Tango does 0-60 mph in about 4 seconds and incorporates a full roll cage.

    I've heard that Subaru will begin sales of its RiE EV in 2010; I believe that Phoenix will begin selling EVs to individuals about then, as well.

    I'm excited by Nissan, Renault and Volvo plans to develop EVs, probably to be offered by 2012. That's when I plan to put down money for a Tesla 'Blue Star.'

    Electrifying times!
    Posted 11-21-2007 at 04:45 PM by EVangel EVangel is offline
  5. Old Comment
    I had just heard of another EV being sold in America and just recently Canada called the ZENN (Zero Emission No Noise). It's a much shorter range vehicle when compared to the others, much cheaper though.
    Sounds perfect for me.
    Posted 11-21-2007 at 11:14 PM by Maalstrom Aran Maalstrom Aran is offline
  6. Old Comment
    Is this a complete list? I don't think so! Where's the Zap-X?

    Posted 11-22-2007 at 02:40 AM by Moonwhaler Moonwhaler is offline
  7. Old Comment
    From France, beside the old types of Electric Vehicles (from Renault/Peugeot), 2 new ones are coming in the next couple years :
    • Bluecar from Bolloré
    • Cleanova from Dassault/Renault

    Links are in French.
    Posted 11-22-2007 at 04:07 AM by Trick Trick is offline
  8. Old Comment
    mattW's Avatar
    Welcome to the forums for those new posters! Great to see more and more people becoming interested in electric cars. The table is going to be put on the wiki some time this week so other EVs can be added then. Its a pretty exciting time when a table full of electric cars under development still has more to add. I'm sure all this competition will be a real boost in driving the cost of higher end batteries and particularly AC systems down to a level that we can afford them.
    Posted 11-22-2007 at 04:58 AM by mattW mattW is offline
  9. Old Comment
    I didn't see the highway speed capable electric sedan being built by Miles Automotive. Last I heard the planned release date was late 2008 and cost of $30K. They advertise it as the world's first affordable highway speed, mass produced EV. This is the one I'm watching the closest.
    Posted 11-23-2007 at 07:04 AM by SWF SWF is offline
  10. Old Comment

    You might want to include the Venture One:

    EV version $25k with a 120 mile range using A123 Li-ION batteries.

    Preliminary body designs here:

    Best Wishes,

    Posted 12-15-2007 at 02:52 PM by MitchJi MitchJi is offline
  11. Old Comment
    david85's Avatar
    Phoenix Motor Cars have a glider conversion of a mid sized pickup, and an SUV. has glider conversions of the Accent and Tuscon (which are both sold out at the monent) Their ford ranger conversion is expected early in 2008.

    Although these are both conversion companies, not purpose built EV builders.
    Posted 12-15-2007 at 03:25 PM by david85 david85 is offline
  12. Old Comment
    Posted 12-15-2007 at 07:11 PM by cwolt65 cwolt65 is offline
  13. Old Comment
    Don't forget
    The Triac from San Jose
    Posted 04-11-2009 at 06:23 PM by davejavu davejavu is offline
  14. Old Comment
    from the six, i like the aptera the most,,
    Posted 04-23-2009 at 12:22 AM by j_rossdale j_rossdale is offline
    Updated 05-19-2009 at 01:34 AM by j_rossdale
  15. Old Comment
    Is there a reason the Nissan Leaf was not included? I thought it came into production about the same time as the Chevy Volt. Seems like a great EV.
    Posted 03-05-2012 at 12:31 AM by AviatorBJP AviatorBJP is offline
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