A Look at Electric Cars from Chevy and Tesla

In March we took you on a video test drive of the all-electric Nissan Leaf (see below). Today we explore a few other electric models.

With estimated electric car sales in the United States set to jump from less than 20,000 in 2011 to 40,000–60,000 in 2012 (with some optimistic predictions going as high as 100,000), you might say the electric car has arrived for good. I guess time will tell.

Up to now, the history of the electric car has played out in fits and starts. Debuting at the turn of the 20th century and rivaling gas- and steam-powered engines, the electric car fizzled out by the 1920s, elbowed out by advances in the internal combustion engine (namely electric starters) and newly discovered oil in Texas. It had a brief resurgence in the mid-1990s with GM’s EV1. The development of the hybrid electric — epitomized by Toyota’s popular Prius (who knew Sen. Lamar Alexander drives one?), which arrived on the world market in 2000 — likely paved the way for today’s resurgence of electric propulsion on U.S. roadways.

While electric cars have still yet to become competitive with their gasoline-powered counterparts, that could change. As innovative materials become more roundly adopted, battery technology improves (lowering their costs), and charging infrastructure expands, the range of electric vehicles will improve, as will their ease of use, and their prices will come down. Meantime, as more and more models are being rolled out, we decided it was time to take a close look at a few more and report on them. Check it out above. (And directly below is our Leaf video, in case you missed it.)

Learn More

The EV Project – the largest deployment of electric vehicles and charge infrastructure in history

Five Real-World Facts About Electric Cars – from Rocky Mountain Institute