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The 2009 Electric Cars List
First posted: July 20, 2009
Updated: January 25, 2010

Here is a short list of Full-Electric, Plug-in Hybrid, and Hybrid cars that don't compromise. Meaning they look great, have enough power, go the distance and use the latest technology (e.g. look at the dash boards of the Tesla Sedan and the Aptera). Another reason they qualified is that they are scalable to volume production - not one offs, hobby builts. And they should be as good as any car we drive today.
One more thing - there are quite a few additional hybrids out there, such as the GM Tahoe, or even the Toyota Highlander. We don't take them serious. Aren't they just marketing ploys?

Here we go:

Full Electric Cars:

  • Tesla Roadster by Tesla Motors (released in 2007). Powered by a 375 volt AC induction air-cooled electric motor with variable frequency drive. Maximum Net Power 248 HP (185 kW) @ 5000-8000 rpm Max rpm: 14,000 - resulting in 0 - 60 in 4 seconds.
    Price about $119,000. 12 months backorder.

  • The e-tron by Audi. "We have to be better than Tesla!" seems to have been the motto that got Audi started in the electric car "game" - late. A sedan wouldn't do, so with some design clues from the famous R8 and some serious ueber-engineering they got something very special for us in 2012:
    - 4 electric motors, one per wheel
    - 313 hp, 3,319 foot-pounds of torque
    - 42 kWh lithium-ion battery, range 154 miles
    Price: probably R8 / Tesla Roadster level

    Tesla Model S - a Sports Sedan that seats 7 people, has a 300 mile range, with a price of about $50,000. Delivery planned for 2011.

  • Nissan Leaf - coming out in 2010. Nissan seems to be the first major automaker with a mass produced fully electric (i.e. not a plug in hybrid electric vehicle, or PHEV, which still incorporates a gasoline engine) passenger sedan. It expects it to get 100 miles per charge. It could be priced similar, or less, than Toyota's popular Prius.
    Charging takes about 4 - 8 hours on 220 Volt or at a Quick-Charge station about 25 minutes to get you to 80% full.
    According to @NissanEV Twitter: 349 MPG !

  • Ford Focus Electric - planned for 2011. Range about 80 miles on a charge. Has a 23 kWh Lithium-ion battery pack and a 105 kW (141 hp) permanent-magnet electric motor. Top speed of up to 85mph. Charging the batteries will take between 6 to 8 hours using a common house outlet.

  • Mini Cooper EV by BMW - compromise: it became a two-seater, has limited distribution and can only be leased in Southern California. An electric motor replaced the gasoline engine and Lithium-Ion batteries are installed where the back seats had been. This "power train" gives the car a range of about 120 miles per charge and it takes about 4 hours on the grid to recharge it.
    Funny thing: it can still go 85 miles with a 0 - 60 in 6 seconds. Not funny: very difficult to get.

  • Lampo by Protoscar - Swiss mini sports car. Li-Ion powered all-wheel drive with a range of 120 miles per charge. Fashions also an advanced GPS - telling how far you go with your charge and how far you are away from the next charging station - and whether you gonna make it there. Price - still open.

  • Aptera by Aptera - looks a little out of line here - it's a 3-wheeler and it qualifies and registers at the DMV as a bike! But its innovative overall design compensates for the missing wheel. Starts shipping in September 09. Price about $30,000.
    Update: 11/20/09: Not shipping yet. Will they make it ? Two founders fired by board.

  • Think City - designed in Norway by Think Global, may start building cars in the U.S.

  • Zenn Car - designed in Canada, built in Canada. Only barely making it on to this list. It's too much of a compromise. 40 miles per charge. But not permitted for highway use. The company claims 280 MPG - based on this formula: A gallon of gas has an energy equivalent of 33.5 kWh. One gallon of gas provides the same energy as fullcharging the ZENN about 7 times. This is an equivalent fuel economy of 7 x 40 miles = 280 mpg.
    Price with A/C and delivery just under $20,000. (added 9/08/09)

  • Køenigsegg Quant - swedish sportscar company that wants to buy Saab from GM. (update: 11/30/09: deal fell apart)
    It's way and far out - still just a concept - and we listed just for fun. Also because most other sites mention it's solar power collecting skin as "powering" the car - charging the battery in 20 minutes! Yessss - but wait. Isn't it true that surface area of the car itself can only collect 3 to 400 watts with today's technology? Correct - solar power adds to grid-supplied electrons. Besides that it does the same what the Prius 3 solar panel does - cool the car down by run a fan. The company itself claims that the Quant is a test vehicle for their new "propulsion system."

  • BlueZero E-Cell - from Mercedes. Planned to be running 200 kilometer (125 miles) on a charge and it has - like the GM Volt - a gasoline "range-extending" engine that will let you go 600 km (375 miles) with a full battery and full tank.
    Here are some tech specs for the new Mercedes E concept (Jan-9-09):
    Li-Ion, 35 kWh, liquid-cooled, E-motor: 75 Kilowatt constant with 100 Kilowatt peak power; 0 to 60 in less than 11 seconds. An empty battery can be rechargedwith a load of 7 kW within 2 hours to go another 60 miles.
    Range Extender Engine:
    ounted in the back of the car. The 1-liter, 3-cylinder, 50 kW is coming from the Smart Car and can recharge the battery while driving. The battery technology is supposedly coming from Evonik Industries (formerly Degussa - a good old German chemical heavy-weight.)
    At last but not least: there's is going to be an upgrade path toward a fuelcell generator: lose the battery and replace it with the fuelcell and hydrogen tank.

  • i-MiEV minicar - from Mitsubishi. Very looking like the German Smart Car.

Hybrids and Plug-In Hybrids (PHEVs)

  • Toyota Prius 3G - favorite configuration: white, solar panel, rearview camera, battery upgrade ready.

  • Honda Civic Hybrid and the Honda Insight - both built on the same engine-assist technology.

  • Fisker Karma by Fisker Automotive - it's a reverse hybrid, estimated 100 MPG, and an 87 mile (140 Km) range driving on battery. And when running emptyit will "switch on" a gasoline engine. 0 to 60 in 5.8 seconds. About $88,000.

  • BYD Auto and its F3DM plug-in Hybrid - made by a Chinese battery manufacturer. Watch out - Warren Buffett invested just $230 Million into the company.

  • The GM Volt - planned for 2011, plug-in Hybrid, runs about 40 miles on 16 KW (?) battery and then switches on a gasoline-driven generator (engine) that has about 71 horsepower (54 kilowatts). The engine does not have a direct connection to the wheels and the gas pedal doesn't have have connection to the engine either. Here is the "power flow": Battery level between 100% to 30% = battery drives electric motor. Battery level below 30% = gasoline engine generator kicks in to recharge the battery. Power flow = Generator >> battery >> electric motor. (Same way as Diesel Locomotives work these days.)
    Silent drive when electric. No whine like the Tesla. According to GM engineersthey have now 9 months to perfect the generator controls (when it starts and how it runs - reving up and down to maintain the charge of the battery.) Come on GM, did all the smart computer guys left to work for Toyota or Tesla?

    Updated: 12/05/09

    Price: about $40,000. Milage according to GM estimate: 263 MPG (?!?).
    Note 1: no official formula released.
    Note 2: Nissan used same formula for the full electric Leaf (see above)

The Charging of Electric Vehicles

There are two competing companies out there that are working on re-charging solutions for electric vehicles:

Better Place
The company is planning to extend the range of electric vehicles with an elaborate network of battery changing stations and ease the economics of battery ownership by financially separating the battery from the car. The car owner pays per charge or per mile driven - very much like today with a gasoline tank. Key is to find car manufacturers to sign up for implementing the changing mechanism into their cars. Nissan and its French cousin Renault were very excited earlier in 2009 to join. Are they still on board, though? That is the billion dollar question - literally.
Find more detail on their web site.

Having provided chargers even for the GM EV1 more than a decade ago, the company claims to have experience and know how to deploy a much more economical re-charging infrastructure. They count on dealing with vehicle's that have a range of 80 to 100 miles per charge and a fast-charge technology that allows to recharge the battery of an EV in 15 to 20 minutes. And that is all done while we are maybe shopping in the mall or having a coffee at Starbucks.
The real interesting kicker here is - or could be: while you have to pay for the Latte, refilling the battery might be free.
Find more detail on their web site.

Both concepts, while clearly very different in their approach, have the same result - keep the car rolling.
It would be interesting to see an itemized costing sheet. While Better Place takes care of all battery issues including recycling and paying for a replacement, ECOtality doesn't touch the battery at all. They are deploying their chargers next year in Arizona in synch with the the release of the Nissan Leaf - the first high-volume, low-priced (around the price of a Prius and compared to the Tesla Roadster) full-electric vehicle on our street and roads. Other cities are on the list and real life results will come in faster than from BetterPlace - maybe deciding which solution is better.


Formula One Racers get Electric Boost

Latest News from the Formula One Circus: 2009 regulations allow for an electric booster motor that can deliver about 60 additional
HP for about 8 to 9 seconds. How? They recharge a "battery" while braking using regenerative braking technology (similar to which Honda is using in the Civic) and then turn around and let the driver release the retrieved energy with the push of a button when he believes he needs the boost.
Here are the full details - More >>

Your Tesla with Formula One Engine ...Sound

We know electric cars are silent runners. That can be dangerous in city traffic. Pedestrians can walk right in front of your car. Some people think our legislative branch needs to take care of this. The German tuning firm Brabus delivers already - and guess what. It's not the sound of a Yugo.
Get yourself Formula One racing car sounds for your electric supercar.
More >>


Electric Motorcycles - they are no Scooters

More be added soon.


We know there are quite a few more we missed. Send us an email and we add it to the list.

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9/15/09 - Tesla will build powertrains in Stanford Research Center - old HP building.

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