Blog Post

So, You Want to Drive an Electric Car: Start Here

With nearly every major automaker and a slew of startups gearing up to launch plug-in vehicles within a few years, you could have more than a dozen electric models to choose from for your next car. But many of these vehicles will be available only for select customers in limited regions at first, and pricing runs the gamut from a few hundred dollars a month for leasing on some models, to more than $100,000 to buy other vehicles.

When it comes to solutions for greener transportation, one size does not fit all. So we’ve put together a couple of cheat sheets in the past comparing various aspects of upcoming plug-in models (see: Battle of the Batteries and 12 Plug-in Cars You Can Drive By 2011). But automakers have been releasing more details about their rollout plans in recent days and weeks. Here’s an updated and expanded rundown on what’s coming down the pike, including which models are scheduled to roll out when, where they’ll be available, how much they’re expected to cost, and what you need to know about seating capacity, battery charge times and range.

Model When/Where What You Get Cost
Aptera 2e (BEV, 2 seats)
Aptera claims it will enter production within 11 months of securing needed funds, initially launching in CA. Battery: ~21 kWh. Lithium ion cells from A123 Systems (s AONE). Range: Aptera claims more than 100 mi. Charge Time: “Overnight” at 100V $25K-$45K depending on options.
BMW Mini-E (BEV, 2 seats) Field trials underway in NY-NJ and Los Angeles metro areas. 40-unit, 6-mo. trial in southeast England beginning September 2010. Application periods have closed. Battery: 35 kWh lithium ion. Air cooled. Range: BMW claims 156 mi (ideal), 109/96/104 mi (city/highway/combined). Demo drivers have gotten closer to 100-110 mi. Charge Time: 26 hours at 110V/12 amp outlet. 4.5 hours at 240V/32 amp. 3 hours at 240V/48 amp. $850/mo. lease for first year in U.S. trial (ended June 2010), dropped to $600/mo. for lessees who renewed for second year.
BYD e6
(BEV, 5 seats)
40-unit taxi fleet launch in Shenzhen, China in May 2010, expanding to 100 units this summer. U.S. launch late 2010, likely starting with Southern Calif., followed by San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, New York, Boston. EU launch reportedly in the works for February 2011. Battery: ~60 kWh lithium iron phosphate. Range: BYD claims 186 mi. Charge Time: 50 percent charge in 20 mins, full charge in 1 hour with quick charging, according to Shanghai Daily. ~$40K
Coda Sedan
(BEV, 4 seats)
Deliveries scheduled for fourth quarter of 2010. California targeted for initial rollout, with retail centers in Santa Monica and San Francisco. Up to 14K units by end of 2011. Battery: 33.8 kWh lithium iron phosphatef pack from Lio Energy Systems (Coda’s joint venture with Lishen). Range: Coda claims 90-120 mi. Charge Time: <6 hours at 240V. $45K
Fisker Karma
(PHEV, 4 seats)
Deliveries to select customers by end of 2010. Full production scheduled to start during first three months of 2011 in North America, followed by EU. Battery: 20 kWh (plus 2.0L gas engine from General Motors (s GM)). Lithium ion cells from A123 Systems. Range: Fisker claims 50 mi electric, 250 mi in hybrid mode, 300 mi total. Charge Time: Fisker claims 6-14 hours, depending on starting charge level and voltage used. ~$88K
Fisker Project Nina
(PHEV, family seating)
Production scheduled for 2012, with more than half of 75K-100K vehicles per year out of Delaware factory by 2014 slated for export. Battery: TBA Range: ~300 mi total Charge Time: Overnight ~$47K
Ford Focus
(BEV, 5 seats)
Fleet trials underway; launch late 2011. North America, then EU. Battery: 35 kWh lithium ion. Air cooled. Range: 75 mi (prototype) Charge Time: 6-8 hours at 230V. TBA
Ford Transit Connect Electric
(BEV, 2, 4 or 5 seats)
Production for commercial fleet operators in U.S. and Canada begins late 2010. Battery: 28 kWh lithium ion (16 modules, 192 cells) pack from Johnson Controls-Saft. Liquid cooled. Range: Ford says up to 80 mi. Charge Time: 6-8 hours for full cycle at 240V TBA. Gas version starts under $22K
GM Chevy Volt
(EREV, 4 seats)
Earliest markets include CA, CT, MI, NJ, NY, TX, NY and Washington, D.C. Austin and NYC to get first models in late 2010, expanding to TX, NY, NJ and CT in 2011. Nationwide availability within 12-18 mo. of initial launch. Battery: 16 kWh (plus 1.4L gas engine). Liquid cooled. Lithium manganese cells from LG Chem. Range: 40 mi electric, “hundreds of miles” gas-extended. Very cold temperatures could drop electric range below 30 miCharge Time: 10 hours at 120V, 4 hours at 240V. ~$40K
Mitsubishi iMiEV (BEV, 4 seats) Available now in Japan. UK up next, followed by U.S. in 2011. Battery: 16 kWh lithium ion. Range: ~80 mi (half that if the heater’s used). Some reviewers driving at highway speeds and in mountainous terrain have drained battery after ~55 mi. Charge Time:12-13 hours at 110V, 7 hours at 220V, 2.5 hours fast charge. <$30K initially, ~$22K by 2012.
Nissan LEAF
(BEV, 5 seats)
Early reservations accepted through May 15, 2010. Lead markets include AZ, CA, TN, OR, WA. Battery: 35 kWh lithium ion. Air cooled. Range: Nissan claims 100 mi (based on stop-and-go city driving in temperate climate). Charge Time: 8 hours at 220V. 80 percent charge in 30 mins with fast charge. ~$33K, or $349/mo. lease with $2K down payment
Smart Fortwo ED
(BEV, 2 seats)
“E-mobility Berlin” trial underway since 2009. More trials starting in 2010 in Canada and EU (Hamburg, Paris, Rome, Milan, Pisa, London, Zurich, Madrid, Portugal, Denmark, Czech Republic, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands). 250-unit U.S. trial of gen-2 model launching October 2010 in Portland, San Jose, Orlando, Austin, Detroit, L.A. and I-95 corridor connecting D.C., NJ, NY and Mass, mostly (80 percent) for corporate and municipal fleets. Some countries in Asia will get the model in 2011. 2012 series production. Battery: 16.5 kWh lithium ion. Range: 85 mi.Charge Time: Up to 8 hours, depending on starting charge level and whether 100V or 220V is used. Go from 20-80 percent charge in 3.5 hours at Level 2 (220V). 48-month lease at $599/mo., plus $2,500 due at signing (~$31K total)
Tesla Model S (BEV, 5 seats plus 2 rear-facing child seats) Deliveries scheduled to begin in 2012. Battery: 42 kWh standard (larger premium batteries optional) Range:160 mi base model (230-300 mi with premium packs). Charge Time: 3-5 hours at 220V/70 amp, 80 percent charge in 45 mins at 440V. ~$57K
Tesla Roadster (BEV, 2 seats) Sold and leased now in U.S., EU. Battery: 56 kWh lithium cobalt. Liquid cooled. Range: 245 mi, according to Tesla. Charge Time: 3.5 hours at 240V/70 amps. $109K. 3-year, 30K-mi lease available starting at $1,658/mo.
Think City (BEV, 2 seats)
Already available in EU; U.S. launch planned for 2010. Select U.S. cities initially, starting with New York City (Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago rank high on list of potential lead markets). Battery: 24.5 kWh lithium ion batteries from Ener1 (s HEV) subsidiary EnerDelRange: 160 km (~99.4 mi) in Europe’s ECE-R101 drive cycle. 112 mi for the U.S. market. Charge Time: 8 hours at 110V. Working on 80 percent charge in 15 mins at 220V with Aerovironment (s AVAV). ~ $29K, plus $183/month for battery leasing if U.S. pricing is similar to pricing for Norway market
Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) Limited leasing underway. Select fleets in Japan, EU and across the U.S.including universities, companies and governments in CA, CO, OR. Seats: Battery: Three 96-cell lithium-ion battery packs: one main pack for hybrid operation and two sub-packs for all-electric mode. Range: ~13 mi, depending on conditions and driving style. Charge Time: About 3 hours at 110V, 100 minutes at 200V. TBA. About $48K for demo fleet customers in Japan. 2010 Prius (hybrid, no plug) starts at ~$23K

BEV = Battery Electric Vehicle; PHEV = Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle; EREV = Extended Range Electric Vehicle

Images courtesy of the automakers

Related content on GigaOM Pro (subscription required):

IT Opportunities in Electric Vehicle Management

Why Microsoft’s Electric Vehicle Deal With Ford Matters

Why Google Android’s Electric Vehicle Deal With GM Matters

9 Responses to “So, You Want to Drive an Electric Car: Start Here”

  1. net_worker

    Just wonder why this list does not include the Renault Fluence Z.E and Renault Kangoo Z.E. Both vehicles are near to production and reservations for the Fluence Z.E. are already possible. Maybe you can include the details about these two EVs in the upcoming releases of this list.