Don’t Waste Your Money: Buzz on Latest Electric Cars

Posted at 8:05 PM, Jan 24, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-24 20:05:37-05

More and more car companies are coming out with cars that are all-electric—no gas needed. Several claim the equivalent of 100 miles per gallon or more. The government tax credit of up to $7,500 could have you thinking about getting an electric vehicle. Consumer Reports just tested some of the latest entries.

Ford calls the Ford Focus Electric the most fuel-efficient compact car in America. Consumer Reports finds that it can get the equivalent of 107 miles per gallon. The engineers compared it with other all-electric cars, including the much smaller, sub-compact Mitsubishi i-MiEV.

Consumer Reports found the i-MiEV even more fuel-efficient, getting the equivalent of 111 miles per gallon. It’s also easy to park, but it’s slow and cramped, and it rides stiffly. In fact, Consumer Reports engineers thought it was more like a glorified golf cart.

With any all-electric car, a primary consideration is how far it will go on a charge. Consumer Reports found the i-MiEV’s range is around 60 miles. It takes 21 hours to recharge the i-MiEV on household current, but you can get a 240-volt charger installed in your house that will cut that time down to 6 hours.

The most luxurious all-electric car so far is the Tesla Model S. It claims a range of up to 265 miles. Special charging stations can charge the battery halfway in just 30 minutes.

Consumer Reports’ initial impression of the Model S is that it’s quick, agile, roomy, and refined. But it’s also expensive, starting at $57,000, and the top-of-the-line model is closer to $100,000.

The Ford Focus Electric falls somewhere in the middle. The one Consumer Reports tested costs $41,000. Its range is about 80 miles. And a full charge takes less than 4 hours with a 240-volt charger.

The Ford Focus Electric performed well at the Consumer Reports test track, with impressive ride and handling. It proved a lot more fun to drive than the Nissan Leaf—the first of the new wave of electric cars

Manufacturers are delivering a steady flow of all-electric cars. Electric versions of the Toyota RAV4 and Smart ForTwo are just out. And others are expected soon, including the Chevrolet Spark EV, Honda Fit EV, and Fiat 500e.