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Electric Vehicles Compared

Pre-Production Electric Vehicles Compared

by rbgrn

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

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

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

As you can see from the production dates, four out of six of thevehicles are scheduled to be in production in 2010 but the othertwo, the Tesla Roadster and Aptera are scheduled for production in2008. Both companies are currently taking pre-orders. Estimatedproduction numbers are difficult to find but Chevy hasclaimed
60,000 in the first year.

Performance is a hot issue with EVs and this generation is nodoubt going to address that. I calculated a figure where applicablewhich divides the vehicles weight in pounds into its peak powerrating. The resulting number gives an indication for how well thevehicle should be able to accelerate. While numbers are onlyavailable for a few cars, the Tesla Roadster easily takes the leadwith a a 0-60 of 4 seconds and a 68.5 Watt/Pound ratio. This shouldprove to many that EVs are now capable of being mainstreamperformance cars.

Most of these plug-in hybrids are expected to have a 3-cylinderturbo diesel or gasoline generator which usually produces slightlymore than the continuous power rating of the car. Translation: Youcan drive as far as you want with this car only refueling and nothaving to recharge. This alone should resolve many people's fearsof range with EVs.

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

The Mitsubishi MiEV Sport is supposed to compete with the TeslaRoadster but currently it stands at a peak rating of only 87kWwhich is less than half of the roadsters. Without an upgrade, itwould have to weigh a mere 1,000 pounds to be able to achieve thesame level of acceleration. My prediction is that futureannouncements will show significant increases in power andreductions in weight.

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

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

Overall things are looking good for the future of EVs. With so manylarge companies backing the technologies, there are sure to beplenty of high quality vehicles to pick from at reasonable pricesin the next several years.

Electric Vehicles Compared