A tale of 3 EVs
Electric propulsion is the future of automobiles, like it or not. While the category is still in its infancy, and the number of offerings severely limited, we decided to compare what's available.
There were more plug-in concept cars at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show than you could swing an extension cord at. Most were tech-forward works of art. But what about real electric vehicles, those you can buy now? Here we look at three mass-production EVs and see how they stack up against one another head-to-head.
2012 Nissan Leaf
It's safe to say that the Leaf feels like a real car. The interior is stylish, comfortable and substantial — no "glorified golf cart" analogies required. Sitting in the rear seats is a realistic prospect, even for a bigger passenger; headroom is ample and visibility is good. Under the hood is an 80-kilowatt motor connected to a 24-kilowatt-hour battery, which can be charged in about eight hours on a 240 volt plug.
The Environmental Protection Agency rates the Leaf's driving range at 73 miles, and we confirm similar numbers in our own real-world testing, not taking it easy on the accelerator.
2013 Honda Fit EV
The gasoline-powered Fit has been popular in the U.S. subcompact market since it debuted for the 2007 model year. This year's Los Angeles Auto Show was the venue for Honda's debut of the new electrified version, which resembles its gasoline partner in most ways, though the battery pack eats up some cargo space. With a 20-kWh lithium-ion battery and a 94-kW motor, the Fit EV is rated at around 75 miles of driving range in real-world conditions and can achieve a top speed of 90 mph.
Honda plans to lease 1,100 Fit EVs over the next three years — not exactly big numbers — and for the time being there will be no option to buy. A lease will cost $399 per month (MSRP $36,625) and be available to customers in "select" California and Oregon markets.
2012 Mitsubishi i
Drawing on existing architecture, the Mitsubishi i — formerly known as the i-MiEV — carries a 16-kWh battery pack and 47-kW motor. It has an 80-mph maximum speed, and a full charge will provide 62 miles of range. Plugging into a 240-volt outlet will charge the i in about seven hours.
Though we haven't driven the car, we had a chance to poke around the Japanese, European and American versions here at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show. While the European model is a touch cushier on the inside, the American model has everything you'd expect from an econobox. The doors feel light and flimsy, and the black plastic components feel breakable. Sitting in the back seat is claustrophobic.
Probably the most compelling feature of the Mitsubishi i is its price: $29,125 for the base model. That's more than $3,500 less than the Leaf.
If the Mitsubishi i has one claim to fame, it's price. Plus, it can charge up about an hour quicker than the Leaf. The lower price tag, however, is painfully evident when sitting in the cabin.
It seems the weakest link is Honda's newly hatched Fit EV. It's hard to see what it does that the Leaf doesn't. The Honda is more expensive, though it can only be leased, and is based on an existing model that has limited sex appeal. Charge time is the Fit's one significant strength: three hours on a 240-volt connection. If that turns out to be true in the real world, it could be the clincher for drivers who need to juice up fast.
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Hmm, Greg bell, I re-read the article caption. It says EV. The Volt is classified as an EV. You will get the same government rebates as the others. It only need gas if you drive longer than its range. But unlike any of these the range is 380 miles. Just like you would expect in a real car, not a toy. Who is the, what did you say"idiot"?