Eco-Friendly Electric Cars Coming Soon

Eco-friendly electric cars are coming soon. Just over the horizon is a host of electric vehicles that tout improved range and speed, and state-of-the-art battery technology. Here’s a list of the models that are hoping to make an appearance in 2009 or shortly thereafter.
By Bill Moore
December 2008/January 2009
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One of the latest eco-friendly electric cars is the Mitsubishi’s iMiEV: A subcompact, four-door, all-electric sedan due in the United States this year for testing.
Photo by Mitsubishi
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A century-old technology is about to re-emerge as a petroleum-free solution to our dependence on oil. While the price tags of eco-friendly electric cars will be high and availability will be spotty at first, the future of vehicular transportation looks bright.

Just when you thought there was no help on the horizon to ease your pain at the gas pump, a century-old technology is about to re-emerge as a petroleum-free solution that will be inexpensive to operate, literally for pennies a day.

A new and improved era of practical, reliable electric cars is about to begin. Although costs will be high and some models will initially appear in limited numbers and regions while the technology continues to evolve, nothing may be able to kill the electric car this time. Here’s some of what to watch for in 2009 and soon thereafter.

The Electric Everycar

One of the first full-functioning electric cars that is slated to appear in 2009 is the Miles XS500, a five-passenger, four-door sedan currently undergoing crash tests to meet U.S. safety standards. The Chinese-manufactured, battery-powered car will offer all the amenities and performance Americans expect from a conventional sedan, but with about 120 miles of all-electric range instead of 25-something miles per gallon. Beta tests of the vehicle will begin in summer 2009, with sales to come a few months later. Initial pricing is targeted at $35,000 to $40,000.

Electric Cars: Think About the Possibilities

Next will be the long-labored Th!nk A306 from Norway, a sprightly two-seater in the same vein as the Smart car. The current version is powered by a sodium-based battery that delivers a top speed of 63 mph and a range of 110 miles. The U.S. version, expected to arrive in late 2009, is rumored to be equipped with more powerful lithium-ion batteries that will likely boost its range and top speed. The price target is in the mid-$20,000s.

Big Battery Breakthrough From BYD

BYD is a Chinese cell phone battery maker-turned automaker. It has developed an electric car, the E6, and a plug-in hybrid akin to the in-progress Chevrolet Volt (more information about it below). BYD says its battery technology will be good for over 300,000 miles. Release of the E6 is expected sometime during the second half of 2009.

Phoenix Rises to the Electric Challenge

This Southern California start-up excited the electric car world when it introduced an all-electric conversion of a pickup using advanced lithium-ion batteries that can be recharged in minutes. Phoenix hopes to begin limited delivery of the truck in California in 2009, with wider sales after that. The current price tag is about $45,000. Phoenix says the vehicle has a top speed of 95 mph and a range of 100 miles or more per charge.

A High-Performance Hot Rod

If money is no object, but speed and excitement are, then the Tesla Roadster is what you’re looking for. This all-electric sports car has revived the fortunes of electric vehicles with the attention it has received for its range of 220 miles, top speed of 125 mph and zero to 60 acceleration in under four seconds. The first 600 are already sold, despite the $100,000 price tag. Tesla also is developing an all-electric sedan that may cost half that figure.

The French Connection

Pininfarina is best known for designing some of the world’s sexiest and most expensive sports cars, but now it has teamed up with French battery maker Bolloré to develop an electric car, called the Bolloré-Pininfarina B0 (B Zero). The company says it wants to sell the vehicle in America in 2010.

Mitsubishi Moving Toward Electric

Mitsubishi has been perfecting an electric version of its “i” car, a four-door subcompact sedan known as the iMiEV. Mitsubishi will begin selling small numbers of the iMiEV in Japan, with sales in the United States likely to follow in subsequent years. A few prototypes may take part in U.S. demonstration trials this year.

Eco-Friendly Electric Cars: Charge and Go

Subaru has been testing small numbers of its R1e electric car with Japanese utilities and says it will soon launch similar initiatives in the United States. The R1e’s batteries can be recharged to 80 percent capacity in just 15 minutes.

Electric Cars Offer Fantastic Flexibility

If you’re still uncomfortable with the limitations of an electric car, watch for the Volt. GM is working hard for a late 2010 release of its highly anticipated range-extended electric car. GM says it will drive 40 miles on battery power, and 300-plus miles using a four-cylinder gasoline/ethanol engine that doesn’t propel the vehicle but does recharge the batteries. Prototypes will hit the streets in 2009, with sales likely to begin in 2011. The final price tag may be $35,000 or more.

A Plug-in Prius!

Toyota is road-testing a plug-in version of the highly successful Prius hybrid. Fleet tests will begin in 2009; actual sales in 2011 at the earliest. No pricing has been announced, but expect it to run at least several thousand more than the conventional Prius, which is about $22,700. The automaker also says it’s planning an all-electric car to roll-out in the 2010s, a squishy time projection likely dependent on the pace of its “beyond lithium” battery research.

No Limits to the Luxury of the Tesla Roadster

What the Tesla Roadster is to two-seat luxury electric cars, the Fisker Karma — due out sometime in 2009 or 2010 — is to luxury plug-in hybrid sedans. The four-door, four-passenger car will have a top speed of 125 mph and zero to 60 acceleration in under six seconds. The initial price tag is set at $80,000, but expect more.

Electric Vehicles Promise: Zero Emissions 24/7

Specifics are scarce, but Nissan sounds serious about electric cars. Executives from the automaker have stressed the goal of a mass-produced, all-electric and zero-emissions electric car on sale by 2010. The Japanese automaker also says it won’t sell an electric car unless it can do so at an affordable price, and still make a profit.

A Better Place for Electric Cars

An alliance between Nissan and French automaker Renault will produce an electric car to be released in Israel and Denmark through Better Place, a startup company with a new take on electric cars. In a business model similar to that of the cell phone industry, drivers would buy miles for their cars; the latter would be deeply discounted, maybe even free. Drivers would recharge anywhere in an extensive network of plug-in outlets, paying for the miles of power like you pay for the minutes of cell phone use. If your car needed a full recharge in short order, you would go to a battery exchange location, which would install a new battery in minutes, for free. You wouldn’t own the battery, but you would pay for its power.


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Post a comment below.

 

Dale_1
12/27/2008 11:43:59 AM
Beating the straw horse of electric cars not being as capable or versatile as gas guzzlers is wearing a bit thin. The Fisker KARMA develops over 400hp and over 900fp of torque. Your precious SUV doesn't do that. WAKE UP! The drivetrain of the KARMA is adaptable to the SUV style and will probably triple the mpg while delivering more power. The ONLY people who should be fighting the development of more EV and PHEV vehicles... is OPEC. THEY will suffer. (Ask me if I care about that...)

chris_7
12/16/2008 3:24:41 PM
This whole deal is the probblem with the US, people who have never been out in the REAL WORLD. Get a grip, drill for oil, let AMERICANS drive what they want. OR let China, and such continue to take US dollars. Keep buying foreign. Thats a good solution. American cars are great. Unions are the probblem, eliminate them, starting with the teachers union. If they truly care they will not mind giving up a little. Thats what is wrong with the United States. I would love ot see a crash between a "Smart" car, and a say big old Tahoe. That would make the best advertisment. You saved gas, and a tree, now who will save your family?

Tom_5
12/14/2008 6:26:15 PM
Jim, You are right on the money with your statement. After seeing "Who Killed the Electric Car?", I read everything I could find about everything in that flick. Curious that Chevron bought Ovonics and then shelved it. The more you read the more dirt shows up on President Cheney and his puppet sidekick, W. Electric cars should be everywhere. I think under the new administration we will finally see some of the squashed technology come to fruition. I think the injustices of the Bush years should be exposed and they should serve time. Sorry, I know this is supposed to be about EVs, but Jim's note got me thinking about Ovonics, and I got sick thinking of Chevron. I feel most sad that Iris Ovshinsky passed away before hers and Stanley's work could become mainstream. The Ovshinsky's should be recognized as national heroes.

Tom_5
12/13/2008 11:16:41 PM
Jim, You are right on the money with your statement. After seeing "Who Killed the Electric Car?", I read everything I could find about everything in that flick. Curious that Chevron bought Ovonics and then shelved it. The more you read the more dirt shows up on President Cheney and his puppet sidekick, W. Electric cars should be everywhere. I think under the new administration we will finally see some of the squashed technology come to fruition. I think the injustices of the Bush years should be exposed and they should serve time. Sorry, I know this is supposed to be about EVs, but Jim's note got me thinking about Ovonics, and I got sick thinking of Chevron. I feel most sad that Iris Ovshinsky passed away before hers and Stanley's work could become mainstream. The Ovshinsky's should be recognized as national heroes.

Jim_2
12/13/2008 3:07:00 AM
The last study results I saw stated that overall efficiency of battery-type electric cars charged off the grid at home was around 97%. The metals in the batteries is recyclable. Why do you think Chevron bought Ovonics, the company that holds the patents on the NiMH batteries that gave the EV-1 a 100+ mile per charge range? Because they'd opened a can of worms that would ultimately get us off our oil addiction. They also won't allow anyone else to produce the NiMH batteries in larger than single cell (@ 1.5 volt) size. NiMH batteries could be produced for a fraction of the cost of Lithium batteries. These same oil companies also bought key sections of railway and proceded to shut them down, so we'd be more dependent on trucks, which use more fuel to haul freight than trains. The lawmakers should use the antitrust laws to take those battery patents away from Chevron, and make then public domain. Big oil is HUGE money, and it can't be trusted with the good of the public.

J_R_S
12/12/2008 6:49:25 PM
I wonder why the link in this article for the TH!INK car goes to a non-informational site that wants to charge to real the real article on the car? It would have been easy enough to have the link go to the official website at: http://www.think.no/ I expect better from The Mother Earth News. As for all-electric cars...with their inherent range limitations, all-electric cars will only become a realistic option for most Americans when the price is $15,000 or less, making them viable as a "second car" for short-range use. Most people, particularly in this new depression economy, simply cannot pony up $35,000 more for a vehicle that they can only use "for some things". That's why hybrids are more practical as a "primary car", but even then pricing is still too high for most people. Lower income people (the vast majority even in the U.S.) want to "go green" but simply can't afford the big buck packages being offered by the automakers and the solar energy industry. So-called green solution that catering only to the well-off aren't going to change the world.

Leslie_2
12/12/2008 2:56:03 PM
Last I heard, the Senate told all the auto manufactures to take a hike. GM had it with the EV1. Yes a concept vehicle that worked very well in the CA and AZ areas it was leased and used. Think where we would be today with over 11-years of upgrades and refinements to that vehicle? I suspect we would have the 200-mile battery range with a small ICE/generator for longer range model available for quite a reasonable price. Ford also had some good battery vehicles out as did Toyota (RAV4EV) and at least they did not crush them and many are still running well today and commanding a very high price for a used vehicle. The people want this technology now even with low gas prices and from this article in Mother, it looks like, again, off-shore companies will be providing the technology while the US dinosaurs waddle in the tar pits of BIG OIL and GREED. All are a little out of my price range now but in a couple more years, they technology will drop the prices to more reasonable areas and more and more will buy and more and more money will go off-shore that could have stayed home GM, Ford and Chrysler. Sorry BIG-3, your poor management has caused your failures. I just feel sorry for the millions who will be hurt by your stupidity. Perhaps it is time for a employee owned BIG-3 to make the decisions for what the people want.-

Rachel Weaver_1
12/12/2008 2:26:54 PM
I drive an electric "car" every day. And soon it will be charged with solar electric. So please don't say it can't be done. If Zap can do it, any one of the majors could do it. Why don't they? They are firstly in bed with big oil. Electric motors are 80-90% efficient, whereas internal combustion is at best 20% efficient. Second, they do not make money on selling cars, rather on repairs/parts and financing. Electric cars require much less maintenance and don't break as often because there isn't an engine rattling everything around. Now they are having trouble selling and especially financing, so here they come with their hands out. Third, as men with big egos, they do not like being told what to do, which is what the zero emissions mandate from California tried to do. They won't listen to customers, either. So they deserve to go broke. Instead Congress will hand them over the lives of future generations to destroy. Lastly, no human likes change. Even though Obama was elected on that very slogan, the specifics indicate business as usual. So strap in, we are in for a bumpy ride as the dollar goes down in flames. Luckily, as the owner of a Xebra, I am already used to a bumpy ride. Salute!

Statik
12/12/2008 1:14:45 PM
Actually, while the comments about requiring quite a bit of energy to produce the power for an electric vehicle are true when it comes to coal or nuclear power, solar, wind or tidal power cost nothing to produce and only some power and pollution to create. The problem with hydrogen is twofold: energy density and storage. Neither batteries nor hydrogen can store the same amount of energy in the same volume and the same mass as petroleum. Batteries have a higher energy density than hydrogen and don't have the same level of danger. Electric is good in that it is multiple sourced. You can make it with petroleum (generator or fuel cell), solar, chemical reaction, wind, tidal or hydrogen. Some of these cars look reasonable. Give me an electric car that: Average 200km range at 80km.hour seats 4 lasts at least 5 years per set of batteries uses standard bulbs/tires/etc except LEDs in markers, etc. and costs about $20 000 and I'll be happy.

David Bush
12/12/2008 11:47:19 AM
Those who want electric cars need to learn about physics. It takes more energy to create electricity than it takes to power something direct. Batteries are made from heavy metals (lithium, nickel-cadmium, etc) which are damaging to the ecology (what do you do with all those heavy metals when the batteries wear out??). Plus you have several hundred pounds of extra weight to carry around. Supplied with the correct propulsion system a car the size of a Prius (which gets only 50 mpg) could see 90-100 mgp. Look up "hydraulic hybrid" and see what that will get you. Of course, ideally, we could separate the atoms in a water molecule and get hydrogen to power the cars - but that also takes "energy" to break down the molecules. Once we can do this, then we can have a truly economical and environmentally friendly propulsion system.

Brent Jones
12/10/2008 8:13:28 AM
Did you know there is another all-electric car on the market? Myers Motors has been producing its single-seat NmG (stands for "no more gas") for some time now. They have recently upgrading its battery packs, so the NmG can travel at freeway speeds, and can last up to 60 miles on a single charge.








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