2014 Misubishi i-MiEV (late spring)
Before the Nissan Leaf arrived in December 2010, the i-MiEV electric minicar was the world's most popular electric car, based on its sales in Japan and Europe. It came to the States after extensive revisions to meet North American safety standards, but the little five-door hatchback is likely perceived as just too small for most buyers--although it has a surprising amount of room inside for its length. The 2014 model will go on sale late this spring, following a one-year hiatus in i-MiEV sales after the 2012 model year.
- How far you can go on electricity: 62 miles (EPA)
- List price (before any incentives): $22,995
- Where you can buy it: Not all of Mitsubishi's small dealer base sells the electric car
- How many have been sold/leased: 1,700 (as of Feb 28)
- The buzz on it: The tiniest four-seat electric car is simply underpowered for mixed use, but it's fine (and inexpensive) for running around town. One plus: All 2014 i-MiEVs will come standard with the same CHAdeMO quick-charging port as the Leaf, meaning longer journeys are possible where charging stations exist.
2014 Porsche Panamera S E-HybridEnlarge Photo
2014 Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid
The first plug-in hybrid sedan from a prestige German brand, the E-Hybrid model of Porsche's Panamera four-door sport sedan arrived in December and set a brisk sales pace for its class. The EPA still hasn't released ratings for either electric range or gas mileage, but the appeal of a practical Porsche that plugs in seems to have persuaded almost 250 buyers to write checks in just three months.
- How far you can go on electricity: TBA
- Combined gas mileage on gasoline: TBA
- List price (before any incentives): $99,000
- Where you can buy it: Selected Porsche dealers in California and a few other states
- How many have been sold/leased: 243 (as of Feb 28)
- The buzz on it: It's fast (0-to-60-mph in 5.2 seconds), powerful (more than 400 hp from its engine and motor combined), and luxurious, but it's no Tesla Model S.
2013 Smart ForTwo Electric Drive Cabrio, Ann Arbor, Michigan, Aug 2013Enlarge Photo
2014 Smart ForTwo Electric Drive (coupe and cabrio)
The Smart is small and cute, but the gasoline version is unpleasant to drive, with an automated manual transmission that shifts hard and rough, pitching the car back and forth as it accelerates. The electric powertrain dispenses with all that, making the car smooth, quieter, and far more peaceful. The base vehicle dates back to the late 1990s, however, and it shows its age in several ways--but if you need easy parking on big-city streets and can recharge at night, it's good as an urban street warrior.
- How far you can go on electricity: 68 miles (EPA)
- List price (before any incentives): $25,000
- Where you can buy it: California, Oregon, and some Northeast states
- How many have been sold/leased: 1,140 (as of Feb 28)
- The buzz on it: If you can live with two seats, it's the least expensive electric car on the market until 2014 Mitsubishi i-MiEVs arrive. Leases on the electric coupe start at $199 a month, including a separate battery lease. It's also the only electric car offered with a convertible top.