Grab any science magazine from the last century, and you'll see ideas and sketches for cars of the future, from atomic-powered to levitating.
But the future is here already, and it's going on sale at a showroom near you over the next three model years. Here's our roundup of the most significant new cars that you'll be able to buy between now and the end of your current three-year auto lease.
Tesla RoadsterEnlarge Photo
2010 Tesla Roadster
- What is it? Two-seat electric sports car that showed the world electric cars could be sexy
- The basics: 0-60 mph in under 4 seconds, via 185-kW(248-hp) electric motor powered by 53-kWh lithium-ion battery pack
- Driving Impressions: 2010 Tesla Roadster - Review
- On sale: now
- Price: $109,000-plus (eligible for $7,500 Federal tax credit and, until Dec 31, $42,000 Colorado tax credit)
As of now, the 2010 Tesla Roadster is the only one of these six cars that you can buy today. And as anyone who's driven one will tell you, it's hellacious fun. This is the car that forever took the nerdy golf-cart image away from electric vehicles.
With engineering help from Lotus, a carbon-fiber body, and some interior upgrades for 2010, the Tesla Roadster remains the only EV that you can drive out of the dealer. If you have over one hundred grand to drop on a car with a likely range of 200 miles or less, that is.
(Have we mentioned lately that you could win a tour and road test of the 2010 Tesla Roadster Sport by entering our new writing contest? Fear not. We'll remind you again. A lot.)
Its battery pack is made up of 6,831 commodity mobile-phone batteries, tied together in a breathtaking array of wiring, control software, and safety features to ensure that even if one of them short-circuits, the others don't.
Like any small, light, primitive sports car, you can't use the 2010 Tesla Roadster to take the kids to soccer practice. For that, you'll have to wait for the seven-seat Tesla Model S electric luxury sports sedan, promised for 2012.