The idea of electric-car travel invariably spawns jokes about extension cords the length of Texas. Meager ranges, multi-hour charging and a lack of highway electrical outlets mean that most consumers still consider pure-electric vehicles a fantasy. But when it comes to plug-in hybrids, there's no fooling: Today's technology can handle treks to Disney World, not just runs to the store.
When the juice runs low on the Chevrolet Volt and the Fisker Karma, two plug-ins due out by next year, their small gasoline engines fire up to generate more electricity and dramatically extend driving range. The result is family-friendly cars that can double the range of all-electric cars and can cruise from sea to shining sea and refuel in minutes. If you're determined to ditch gasoline completely or just need an urban runabout, the Tesla Roadster may be the ticket. But if your summer plans include suitcases and scenic overlooks, only the hybrids will eliminate the "range anxiety" that makes Americans leery of buying and banking on purely electric cars.
The Ride: An all-electric two-seater powered by lithium-ion batteries. Range: 244 miles in combined city/highway driving. Fully charges in less than 3.5 hours on 220-volt outlets.
Performance: 0–60 mph in 3.9 seconds;185 kilowatts, 248 horsepower
Road-trip-worthy? If your vacation takes place on a racetrack, sure. Otherwise, most Teslas will stray as far from home as a pedigreed cat.
The Ride: A plug-in hybrid that seats four; runs on an electric motor powered by lithium-ion batteries, plus a 1.4-liter, four-cylinder gasoline engine. Cost: $40,000.
Range: 40 miles; gas engine extends range to 300 miles. Charges in eight hours on household current, less than three hours on 220-volt outlets.
Performance: 0–60 mph in nine seconds; 110 kilowatts, 150 horsepower
Road-trip-worthy? Drive your Chevy to the levee and all points beyond.
The Ride: This year, former Aston Martin designer Henrik Fisker delivers an $88,000 plug-in hybrid, four-person sedan that runs on dual electric motors powered by lithium-ion batteries, plus a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine.
Range: 50 miles on electricity alone; gas engine extends its range to 300 miles. Charges in 5.5 hours on 220-volt current.
Performance: 0–60 mph in 5.8 seconds; 300 kilowatts, 408 horsepower
Road-trip-worthy? The Fisker is ready to dazzle valets, and its speed ensures that you won't be late for check-in. The downside is electric motors that hog trunk space.
Whats with the 220 volt charging systems? Don't the engineers know that the only place I have access to 220 is in my laundry room? I don't think the car will fit in there.
Hybrid or pure electric the car has to be able to get us to work and back home later in the day. Its silly if we can't charge them while we are at work.
Where are all these carbon nanotube batteries that charge up in 6 minutes and run for 400 plus miles. I have read enough hype about these batteries that would change the cost and the popularity of the electric vehicles. As the little old lady said,"Where's the BEEF!"
"If your vacation takes place on a racetrack, sure. Otherwise, most Teslas will stray as far from home as a pedigreed cat."
I completely disagree with that statement. The Tesla is easily the best choice out of the 3. It gets 244 miles per charge which is almost as far as the volt and thats solely on electricity, no gas engine WHATSOEVER. Also, Tesla is coming out with a Model S which will be a sedan. It will cost $50,000, have room for 7 passengers, go 0-60 in 5.9 seconds, and have a range of 300 miles without using a single drop of gas. To compare, the Chevy Volt will cost $40,000 and only travel 40 miles before it needs to rely on a gas engine to keep it goin. I see Tesla as the Ford of the future.
As with the comment above about the 220 volt charging system, the Tesla also has a backup charging system in the trunk which will plug into any regular electrical outlet. Also, if this car begins to become extremely popular, I'm sure parking garages will begin have 220V outlets available.
Support Tesla, they are truely the cars of the future.