2013 Ford C-Max Energi is a crossover with more room than many small SUVs, 95 mpg, a range of 550 miles because it is a plug-in hybrid, and the ability to make many trips in electric mode only using a garage charge. It starts at $29,995 after federal tax credit. In this review we compare this new electric car with the Chevrolet Volt and Toyota Prius Plug-in….
Toyota, the hybrid car leader, is challenging General Motors, the plug-in hybrid car leader. I drive both the Chevrolet Volt and Prius Plug-in through a similar mix of freeway, city stop-go, and steep ascents and descents. Both cars are a pleasure to drive, but one car gives most drivers more value for the money.
With gasoline prices over $4 per gallon in many states, Ford is rolling out a variety of exciting hybrid cars and electric cars. In April, consumers will start buying the new Ford Focus Electric. Yesterday, I rode in this beautiful compact hatchback. This year, Ford will also offer other exciting hybrids and plug-in hybrids all using lithium batteries: C-MAX Energi, C-MAX Hybrid, Fusion Energi, and Fusion Hybrid.
I just drove two electric cars on the same route that included demanding freeway acceleration, cruising along a beautiful ocean highway, serious hill climbing, and maneuvering through street traffic. Let’s compare the Mitsubishi i with a starting price of $29,125 with the Nissan LEAF with a starting price over $6,000 higher. The Mitsubishi i is a 5-door, 4-seat, microcompact with more room inside than a MiniCooper and friendly outside looks similar to a VW bug. The Nissan LEAF is a 5-door 5-seat, compact hatchback with stylish yet conventional looks.
The new Cadillac ELR will combine electric car driving with elegant styling and a luxury interior. GM is moving ahead with the dramatic luxury coupe, shown two years ago as the Cadillac Converj Concept. The Cadillac ELR will use the electric drive system of the popular Chevrolet Volt. Cadillac drivers will now be able to drive 30 to 40 miles on an electric charge from home, work, or charge stations, then go hundreds of added miles when the gasoline engine is engaged.
Nissan LEAF is the first electric car to earn five stars from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. My wife and I have been driving our Nissan LEAF for over three months. This electric car feels safe to us on city streets and on freeways. The LEAF is easy to charge. It won’t let us drive anywhere if we forget to disconnect the charge point. When backing out of our shared condo parking, the mirrors and backup camera are helpful. The LEAF accelerates well on to freeways, even in the range-extending ECO mode that we almost always use.
A General Motors executive recently told a small group that GM is working on 32 electric car derivatives all based on Voltec, the Chevrolet Volt’s electric drive system. Voltec is GM’s architecture and roadmap for a number of exciting vehicles future vehicles with electric drive systems. Volt demand is strong. In 2012, global production capacity is expected to be 60,000 vehicles with an estimated 45,000 to be delivered in the United States.
Tesla recent quarterly financial results show progress on several fronts. Over 1,650 customers are now driving the Tesla Roadster, the impressive electric car with a 240-mile range per charge. Customers have driven these 100-percent electric cars more than 11 million miles. The Model S Sedan is on track for completion and customer deliveries mid-2012. A much bigger market is expected for this premium sedan that starts at $57,400 and has an optional battery pack with that gives the car a 300-mile range. When Tesla begins delivery of the Model S, over 100,000 electric car customers will be driving their Nissan LEAF, Chevrolet Volt, Ford Focus Electric and other electric sedan competitors.
The Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf earn the highest safety ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in the first-ever U.S. crash test evaluations of plug-in electric cars. The milestone demonstrates that automakers are using the same safety engineering in new electric cars as they do in gasoline-powered vehicles.
At the New York International Auto Show, the 100-percent electric car Nissan LEAF was named 2011 World Car of the Year, edging out the BMW 5-Series and the Audi A8 for the top spot. The award is the latest in a string of accolades for the world’s first affordable mass-market all-electric vehicle, which was also named European Car of the Year.
In this test drive of the new Toyota RAV4 EV, this electric SUV beat a V8 gasoline pickup going up hill. Combine a mature Toyota RAV4 chassis and interior with a maturing Tesla electric drive and you have a premium electric vehicle in months not years. 31 of these prototype all-electric SUVs are now on the road and demonstrating 80 to 120 mile electric range.
It’s easy to slide behind the steering wheel of this Tesla Roadster because the top’s removed for this January day. I don’t mind. It’s 70 degrees here in Palm Springs, California. A perfect day for a test drive. Handling S-curves is smooth and effortless even though this sports car has no power steering. I go over a speed bump at 20 mph. No scraping sounds. No damage. These shocks are worthy of a race track.
We finally have great fuel economy in roomy 5-seat crossovers with the new Ford C-MAX Hybrid and the breakthrough C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid. With its comfortable crossover design and potential lower price, the C-MAX Energi is likely to compete well with plugin hybrids like the Chevrolet Volt. The C-MAX Energi is likely to offer more range than the Toyota Prius Plug-in.
I enjoyed driving the new Ford Focus Electric. It felt just like driving a regular gasoline Focus 4-door sedan, except it was more quiet and accelerated faster due to the torque of the electric motor. The Ford Focus EV has a 23 kWh LG Chem Compact Power lithium-ion tri-metal battery with over 17 kWh available in the charge-discharge cycle. Ford is now taking orders starting at $39,200. Comparison and review with Nissan LEAF.
Honda Fit EV will be popular with current drivers of hot compact hatchbacks such as the Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris, Ford Fiesta, Chevy Cruze, and Mini-Cooper. In the next few months the Fit EV will hit the streets with real world at Stanford University, City of Torrance, and Google’s fleet and car share programs. Honda also announced that a new plug-in hybrid will go on sale in late 2012.