2011 – The Year of the Electric Car

As I was walking around the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show, I was reflecting to a colleague that by 2020, we’ll be asking “I wonder if they’ll be revealing any ICEs” (Internal Combustion Engines) as opposed to today’s question of how many electric cars are being launched.

I do believe we will look back at 2011 as the turning point in the Electrification of the American Car.  Just look at how many electric vehicles you will be able to buy in the next 12 months:

Nissan Leaf

The Nissan Leaf is the World’s first mass-produced BEV or Battery Electric Vehicle.  It has a range of about 100 miles (depending on how you drive and where you drive), costs about $33,000 before the $7,500 Federal Government Tax Credits, and drives like a dream.  The only knock on the Leaf is the gauges which resemble a complicated Japanese video game that are almost impossible to read when the sun is directly behind you.
Chevy VOLT

The Volt is likely to win a ton of awards as the first American PHEV or Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle even though it’s not really a hybrid.  In simple terms, the Volt is an electric car that runs on pure electric for the first 40 miles and then switches to extended range which amounts to a gasoline generator that supplies power to the electric motor.  The Volt costs about $40,000 and also qualifies for the $7,500 Tax incentive from Uncle Sam.

Ford Focus Electric

Expect the Ford Focus Electric in 2012.  Just like the Leaf, it is also a BEV and offers similar range.  No pricing is available but expect it to come in right at $30,000.

Mitsubishi I-MiEV

The I-MiEV may be the most affordable electric car in America with an projected MSRP of less than $30,000 before Uncle Sam kicks in his tax credit.  Think of the I-MiEV as a larger, smarter, better-driving, all-electric smart car.  You may also think of it as the car that could make or break the struggling Japanese automaker as they have plummeted into obscurity since their peak in 2003.

Honda Fit EV

If you want to buy a Nissan Leaf but didn’t make the list, the Honda Fit EV might be a good alternative.  It produces similar numbers to the Leaf – 90 mile range – and is all-electric.  It also comes from a well-respected Japanese manufacturer.  The electric motor is a derivative of the Honda Clarity FCX fuel cell car.  Expect the Fit-EV in showrooms by 2012.

Tesla Roadster
The Tesla has a lot of benefits such as a 250-mile range on a single charge, but it’s six-figure price tag and two seats excludes most buyers from considering this roadster.  Until they can produce these cars in volume and at a more reasonable cost, the Tesla Roadster is mental masturbation for those who are wealthy, but want to “make a difference.”  Pa-lease…

Fisker Karma
Fisker is an interesting vehicle as it has the same approach to fuel economy as a Chevy Volt.  However, with it’s excessive price tag, it won’t have the same mass appeal as the Volt.  From a design standpoint, it’s beautiful and will stand out in a crowd or even at the bag drop at your country club.  The big challenge will be Fisker’s customers who are accustomed to being treated in a special manner.

GEM is an acronym for Global Electric Motorcars and for all intensive purposes, this is a short-range, dressed up golf cart that is street legal.  Starting at $7,500, it’s great for warm weather towns where speed limits don’t exceed 35mph.

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