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The 2012 List of Electric Cars

Here's what you need to know...
  • Electric cars use batteries instead of gasoline
  • There is an up to $7,500 tax credit for purchasing an electric vehicle
  • With many new cars being added to the electric car market, prices are becoming more affordable

Are electric cars still a futuristic dream? Will these quiet, efficient and environmentally friendly vehicles soon be rolling off automobile manufacturers’ assembly lines in the tens of thousands? Will eager motorists be lining up to buy the latest models?

The answer to these questions is as yet undetermined. What is certain, however, is that non-gasoline powered cars are coming of age.

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Over the last couple of years, a number of manufacturers have chosen to unveil their newest electric powered vehicles. The assortment of sizes, shapes, and options has increased dramatically.

It seems that most every month a new make and model of electric car hits the marketplace.

Electric Cars Defined

Automatic car keys up close.

Simply put, an electric car is powered using an electric motor as opposed to a traditional gasoline engine. Accelerator pedals, which have always been used to regulate the flow of gasoline to a typical combustion engine, are still featured in electric vehicles.

Instead of controlling gasoline, pedals in electric cars are connected to a controller which regulates the amount of electrical power sent to the motor.

Power is stored in rechargeable batteries which can be plugged into any common 120-volt or 240-volt household electrical outlet.

One drawback of electric cars is the time required to recharge the batteries. Recharging an electric car using standard household current can take an average of eight to ten hours.

This arrangement would be fine for an urban commuter who only drives his vehicle a few miles each day to and from work and then parks his car overnight. In this fashion, electric cars can be kept fully charged.

At the most, the car would have to be recharged every two or three days.

Unlike hybrid cars, which are powered by gasoline and utilize a battery and electric motor system to improve efficiency, electric cars run purely on the electricity stored in their batteries. Electric cars are both clean and energy efficient.

Most importantly, electric cars are environmentally safe and produce no hazardous emissions to foul the atmosphere.

Electric vehicles are also cost efficient, with operating costs averaging only two cents per mile. This compares to a gasoline powered vehicle cost of more than twelve cents per mile.

Gasoline engines continuously add pollution to the atmosphere and contribute to greenhouse gasses every mile they are driven.

In addition, electric cars run on a sustainable and renewable power source.

Our reliance on gas-driven cars furthers our dependence on the world’s dwindling supply of oil, a supply that once used up, cannot be replaced.

Electric cars have no tailpipe emissions and reduce our dependency on foreign and domestic oil reserves. They are cheaper to operate and use electric power, which can be produced in unlimited quantities.

Carbon emissions associated with the production of electricity have a far lesser environmental impact than the byproducts of gasoline combustion.

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A Question of Power

Most current electric models can travel up to 100 miles on a full charge. Drivers who drive long distances every day would be unimpressed by the limited range and the long recharging times of electric cars.

For just these reasons, electric cars have been slow to catch on. In addition, automakers have not been fully committed to producing and marketing electric cars with all the features and comforts Americans have grown used to with their traditional gasoline-powered models.

As electric power systems advance, charging systems improve, and prices come down on electric vehicles, consumers will be more willing to consider switching from gasoline to battery powered cars.

Major automakers have already responded to these changes by introducing a variety of new electric models in the past couple of years.

Charging stations are finally coming online in various locations around the United States, but the goal of convenient street corner charging units and faster recharging will probably not be achieved for a number of years.

The latest advent of the electric car market is wireless charging. Instead of plug-in and go, vehicles in the near future will be able to just pull-in and go. There are a number of technical bugs that still need to be worked out in wireless recharging systems.

According to the website, Plug-in Cars, wireless recharging will provide definite advantages for electric vehicle owners.

Convenience at Home

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There are several ways electric cars can be considered superior to gasoline-run vehicles:

  • Convenience – Electric cars are more convenient than their gasoline-powered counterparts. Driving an electric car means you will never have to visit a gas station again!
  • Maintenance – Electric cars also require far less maintenance than gas-powered vehicles. Electric cars don’t require emission control inspections, oil changes, or much of the other routine maintenance of gas-powered cars.
  • Noise – Electric cars are virtually silent, reducing noise pollution to almost zero. And while driving range may be limited, speed is not! Electric motors provide high torque (power) from a dead stop. This means fast zero to sixty acceleration times.
  • Price – The Federal government is offering a $7,500 tax credit for taxpayers who invest in a new electric vehicle. As early electric models have come with relatively high sticker prices, this IRS tax break can be a strong incentive for families shopping for a new car.

Motorists don’t necessarily have to make an either electric or gas choice when shopping for a more efficient car.

Plug-in hybrids offer a number of the benefits of electric vehicles while at the same time eliminating some the electric cars’ drawbacks, such as a limited range. Hybrid vehicles also qualify for a federal tax credit.

Cars to Watch for in 2012

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The Mother Nature Network is an environmental group dedicated to improving the world through the appreciation and preservation of our planet and natural surroundings.

As such, Mother Nature is a major proponent of electric cars and has published a list of its favorites for 2012.

  • Ford Focus Electric – This brand new vehicle is the first on the hot watch list of electric cars for 2012. The Focus features the equivalent of over 100 miles per gallon! Ford’s optional 240-volt charging system will also delight EV enthusiasts as it requires just over three hours to fully recharge.
  • Mitsubishi i – Next up for 2012 is the Mitsubishi i, which features a sticker price of just over $29,000. The Mitsubishi features an electric motor capable of producing 66 horsepower. The EPA has rated the i at 126 MPGe, highway and 99 MPGe in city driving situations.
  • The Toyota RAV4 EV – This is one of two Toyota electric cars to be introduced in the US and the only mass-produced all-electric SUV! The RAV4 boasts a driving range of 120 per charge and can be recharged in as little as five to seven hours.
  • Tesla Model S – At the higher end of the electric car market is the Tesla Model S. It is priced at $49,900 after taking into account the $7,500 Federal tax credit. Its standard battery pack allows for a driving range of 160 miles. For an additional charge, buyers can purchase longer-range batteries.
  • Honda Fit – In the sub-compact class, the Honda Fit is a popular choice. The Fit requires only three hours to recharge using its 240-volt system and features a range of 123 miles on a single charge. The Honda Fit is priced at $36,625.
  • Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid – Another Toyota worthy of mention is the Prius Plug-in Hybrid. The all-new Prius boasts a 134 horsepower hybrid engine. Fuel efficiency is rated at 87MPGe in electric mode and 49 MPG in its hybrid mode.
  • Nissan Leaf – The vehicle bills itself as the first affordable all-electric car. Its sticker price of $33,000 less the $7500 Federal tax credits, bring the Leaf into the budget range of most American families. The Leaf hatchback model seats five adults comfortably and has a range of about 100 miles.

The environmental website, The Daily Green, rates automobiles on both their fuel efficiency and environmental impact. Numbers one and two on their list respectively for most fuel efficient are the Mitsubishi i and the Toyota Prius Hybrid.

Now that the economy is growing again, this isn’t happening and the globe is once again locked into a course that is unsustainable, according to reports filed by the Denver Post. Global emissions and greenhouse gasses reached a record high in 2010.

Electric cars aren’t just a good idea to many environmentalists, they have become a necessity.

Unfortunately, only 56,000 electric cars were on the road in 2012. That represents a meager .002 percent of the total number of registered vehicles. Adding hybrid vehicles to the tally brings up that percentage to just about one full percent.

What the world needs now is green, more green, as the lyric to a popular old song might go. Americans have just begun to recognize the need for change and will hopefully begin embracing new electric cars sooner rather than later. It will be a better, quieter and greener world when we do!

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