Electric vehicles (EVs) are powered by an electric motor instead of a gas engine. They use energy stored in rechargeable batteries, much like a golf cart. Each year, more EVs go into production, and many experts consider EV technology to be the future of the automotive industry.
Take a look at the coolest, fastest and greenest electric vehicles around.
QUIMERA ALL ELECTRIC GT
The Quimera is the world’s first all-electric performance vehicle, topping out at 187 miles per hour. The lightweight, carbon-fiber EV speeds from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.3. seconds, thanks to a 700-horsepower electric motor. With its sleek supercar build and supercharged performance, the Quimera rivals some of the fastest conventional competition cars.
The EN-V (Electric Networked Vehicle) makes commuting as simple as riding a bike. The tiny two-person EN-V reaches a top speed of 25 mph and provides a limited range of 25 miles before recharging is required. “Networked” refers to the car’s sensors, cameras, GPS technology and ability to communicate with other cars and park itself.
The Leaf is the world’s top-selling EV. Starting at around $30,000, the economical Leaf is also tech-heavy. You can use your smartphone to control many of the Leaf’s settings, including air conditioning. It also offers a solar-panel spoiler, adding much-needed juice to the batteries. Even more important, the Leaf is the safest EV on the road, earning a five-star car-safety rating.
RENAULT FLUENCE Z.E.
You won’t see the Z.E. zipping around American roads yet, but it’s already making a splash in Europe. Thanks to a luxurious design and lengthy 115-mile range, Z.E.s are being used as taxis in London, England. The Z.E. is also the first electric car that uses a swappable battery, enabling the driver to swap a depleted battery with a fully charged one at battery-switching stations.
TESLA MODEL S
The speedy, sporty sedan offers the power and agility of a sports car and the no-emission efficiency of a true “green” machine. The Model S accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds, and it seats seven people. Charge the battery in any standard electrical outlet and get a range of 160 to 300 miles, depending on your battery package.
HONDA FIT EV
The gas-powered Honda Fit, with its quirky exterior and roomy interior, has always been a popular ride. Beginning in 2013, Honda will offer an all-electric version. The Fit EV retains the same fan-favorite seating and stowage, but comes with a rating of 118 miles-per-gallon of gasoline equivalent (MPGe) — the highest among all EVs.
We are still a year away from seeing the i3 in dealerships, but its ultra-green features are already well known. The i3 is BMW’s first zero-emissions vehicle, with a futuristic carbon-fiber exterior and an interior that utilizes naturally grown materials. To top it all, BMW says the i3 is 100 percent recyclable — including batteries.
This two-seater is among the smallest and simplest EVs, but what it lacks in size and frills, it makes up for in practicality and efficiency. Ranging 100 miles when fully charged and topping out at 65 mph, the tiny ride is priced at $32,995.
FORD FOCUS ELECTRIC
The Focus Electric marries on-road performance and technology, even offering a smartphone app interface that monitors the car’s performance. The cabin’s comprehensive instrument panel displays a ton of info, even rewarding the driver for efficiency with congratulatory graphics. Drivers can transmit the data to the Internet and social media outlets, bragging to other Focus drivers.
While it’s not technically an all-electric vehicle, using a small gas engine for extended trips, the Volt was one of the first electric cars on the scene. The Volt’s electric motor has a small 35-mile range, but the total range with a full tank of gasoline is a whopping 407 miles. Of all the electric cars being produced, the Volt is the most accessible and popular.