The time will come when the need for fuel for vehicles would be considered arcane. Sure, we may still be a long way off, but there have been signs that we are getting there. Sales nearly tripled in 2012 compared to the previous year’s figures, with 53,000 units delivered compared to 2011’s 17,800. The government has also been doing its part to encourage production and use with incentives given to users of electric cars. It has also allocated nearly $2.5 billion to support the research and development of the next-generation electric vehicles and batteries.
Even the big manufacturers are weighing in, with the likes of Mercedes Benz and Volvo releasing their own versions of the electric vehicle. After all, it is not that hard to market a car that you can advertise as environmentally friendly and will lead to cleaner air.
Some manufacturers have made the commitment early. Here is a list of the top 10 most popular all-electric cars.
1. Nissan Leaf – 19,512 units
The Nissan Leaf is the best-selling all-electric car in the United States. Leaf stands for “L-eading E-nvironmentally Friendly, A-ffordable, F-amily” car. It was introduced to the market in December 2010. The five-door hatchback has a range of 117 kilometers. Energy consumption is at 765 kilojoules per kilometer, while fuel economy equivalent is rated at 2.4 liters per 100 kilometers. The car is also available in Japan, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
2. Tesla Roadster – 2,400 units
This car was introduced to the market in March 2008. It sold in 31 countries around the world before production stopped in January 2012. There are still around 80 units left outside North America with the manufacturer waiting for the inventory to get sold out. This sports car has a range of 394 kilometers. It was the first production car to make use of lithium-ion battery cells. It was also the first all-electric car to have a range of more than 320 kilometers per charge. It actually holds the world record for longest distance covered by an electric car at 501 kilometers.
3. Tesla Model S – 2,400 units
This car was introduced in June 2012 and sold 2,400 units within six months. The Model S is a full-sized electric four-door sedan runs on 85-kWh lithium-ion battery and is manufactured by Tesla Motors. It has a range of 426 kilometers, making it the electric car with the longest range in the market. It has two other variants, namely the 60-kWh version with a range of 335 kilometers and the 40 kW-h with a range of 260 kilometers. Energy consumption is at 855 kilojoules per kilometer, while its fuel consumption equivalent is 2.64 liters per 100 kilometer.
4. Ford Focus Electric – 685 units
The Ford Focus Electric was first introduced to the market in December 2011. It is currently available only in California, New York and New Jersey. The five-door hatchback is the carmaker’s first full production and all-electric vehicle. It runs on 23 kW-h liquid-cooled lithium-ion batteries and has a range of 122 kilometers. Fuel economy equivalent is 2.2 liters per 100 kilometers. This makes the Focus Electric the most fuel-efficient compact car sold in the U.S. It was awarded the Green Car Vision Award in 2011 at the Washington Auto Show.
5. BMW ActiveE – 671 units
This car was introduced to the market at the beginning of 2012. It has a range of 151 kilometers and fuel economy equivalent is at 2.3 liters per 100 kilometers. The two-door coupe is a four-seater rear wheel drive vehicle. The design was based on the BMW 1 series of small family cars and is the most recent addition to the manufacturer’s EfficientDynamics program.
6. Mitsubishi i-MiEV – 668 units
The car was introduced to the market in December 2011 and has a range of 100 kilometers. MiEV stands for Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle and is the electric version of the Mitsubishi i. It is also known as the Peugeot iOn and Citroen C-Zero in Europe. The five-door hatchback runs on 16-kW-h lithium-ion battery.
7. Smart ED – 530 units
The Smart ED was first introduced to the market in January 2011. It has a range of 101 kilometers. Smart Daimler manufactured this car, which is an electric vehicle version of the Smart Fortwo city car. It can reach a top speed of 120 kilometers per hour and can go to 60 kilometer per hour in just 5 seconds and to 100 kilometers per hour in less than 13 seconds. Its lithium-ion battery is manufactured by Deutsche ACCUmotive and has a capacity of 17.6 kW-h.
8. Toyota/Tesla RAV4 EV – 192 units
The RAV4 is an electric SUV that was introduced to the market in September 2012. It has a range of 166 kilometers. Production has been limited to about 2,600 units and the vehicle is available only in California. It is being done in collaboration with Tesla, which provides the electric motor and batteries while Toyota supplies the body and vehicle platform. The four-door SUV runs on lithium-ion battery with capacity of 41.8 kW-h.
9. Coda – 100 units
The Coda was introduced to the market in March 2012. It can cover a distance of up to 142 kilometers per charge. The four-door sedan has a fuel economy equivalent of 3.2 liters per 100 kilometers. It runs on a lithium ion iron phosphate battery system that has a capacity of 31 kW-h.
10. Honda Fit EV – 93 units
The Honda Fit EV was introduced to the market in July 2012. It has a range of 132 kilometers. Only 1,100 units will be made available up to the middle of 2015 and the car is only available in California and Oregon. The five-door hatchback subcompact vehicle can reach a top speed of 140 kilometers per hour. Fuel economy equivalent is rated at 2 liters per 100 kilometers.