Choice & Deals Are Out There
With more electric cars entering the market, there is greater choice available for the consumer. As technology develops, and newer, better options become available, there is now real value to be had in owning an electric car.
This list considers the Top 10 Best Value battery electric cars that are on the market right now–based on the publicly announced lease prices, along with the range you get at the price. All the lease prices listed here are for 36-months, and based on the manufacturer’s price. They do not include down payments, and these costs may vary between different dealerships and locations. Deals can be had, as anyone who’s shopped EVs knows.
The range listed for each car is also based on the EPA guidelines, though these will vary in the real world depending on speed, weather and terrain (amongst other factors). While these figures are only guidelines, therefore, they offer a good indication of what you’re getting for your money.
We’ve added links to some of Clean Fleet Report’s test drives and news of the listed models.
Lease price: $329/month, range: 238 miles
Bolts top our list
Boasting the best range on this list, the Chevy Bolt is the first “affordable” car to compete with Tesla’s range. While it is more expensive than the other cars on this list, its enormous range makes the Bolt a potential game-changer for the electric car market. We like it a lot; one Clean Fleet Report writer even leased one.
Lease price: $275/month, range: 124 miles
Available in various configurations, including traditional and plug-in hybrids, as well as electric, the Ioniq is extremely flexible. Despite its lease price and range, the Ioniq seems to have gone under the radar compared to others on this list, but is a steal at $275/month.
Lease price: $279/month, range: 125 miles
Featuring a big range boost from the previous model, the 2017 e-Golf now has a 125-mile range compared to 83 before, and at $279/month is a bargain for a car with this range.
Lease price: $204/month, range: 115 miles
With an increased range and lower price, the 2017 Focus Electric is a big upgrade on the previous model, and is a good value, sporty car.
Lease price: $89/month, range: 84 miles
First in the style-stakes, the Fiat 500e is pretty much a design classic – combining retro charm with bright and quirky colours. While other cars on this list offer a superior range, none can compete with the 500e in the price-stakes.
Lease price: $199/month range: 107 miles
2017 Nissan Leaf
The best selling electric car of all time, the Leaf is still the standard-bearer and is a roomy compact with a good range. With the Focus Electric outperforming it at a similar price, however, there is better value to be had in an increasingly busy market. Leaf deals may increase before the longer-range, restyled 2018 model hits dealers.
Lease price: $159/month, range: 93 miles
The Soul EV is a spacious car, with room for five passengers and plenty of cargo space. Boasting one of the lowest lease prices in the market and a decent range, this is a real bargain.
Lease price $289/month, range: 81 miles
The popular i3 is a good looking and luxurious electric car, with a competitive price for a prestige brand. WIth the 2017 range extender, the i3’s performance is boosted even further to 125 miles, for $329/month, a good price for a quality vehicle.
Lease price: $269/month, range: 89 miles
Performing well since its release in August, the Clarity EV is a big, spacious sedan. While there are better value cars on this list in terms of range and lease price, this is still a quality vehicle.
Lease price: not released, range: 215 miles
While Tesla are having some issues with production, the Model 3 represents the manufacturer’s first foray into the affordable market. With a range matched only by the Bolt, the Model 3 is a luxurious sedan at a great price (the base MSRP is $35,000). Expect this car to shoot up the list once Tesla releases leasing details.
Electric Vehicle Day brings out 15 different models for test drives
PG&E employees got a chance to try out pure EVs and plug-in hybrids
If one of the 20,000 employees of the giant Northern California utility, PG&E, was interested in taking advantage of the federal, state and company incentives to buy a plug-in vehicle, a recent program gave them a chance to have some hands-on experience to figure out which vehicle they might want. A recent Electric Vehicle Day program drew representatives from almost all of the companies with pure electrics and plug-in hybrids on the market, giving employees a chance to test drive vehicles and learn more about how they work.
A PG&E spokesman said more than 1,000 employees had already taken advantage of the company’s vehicle purchase incentive program and 315 had booked appointments midday on a Friday to take a look at the more than a dozen different vehicles, either as a new buy or replacement.
Almost all EVs where there
At the Fair, in alphabetical order, were the:
Tesla was out in force, bringing eight vehicles, while other manufacturers brought one to four models to drive or display. The program was busy for its duration of almost four hours. PG&E holds several similar events each year as it encourages its employees to “walk the walk” of automotive energy consciousness.
PG&E has a plug-in truck
PG&E brought its own portable charger
PG&E also brought out one of their own electric vehicles, a modified Ford F-550 heavy-duty work truck that had been converted into a plug-in hybrid by Efficient Drivetrains Incorporated (EDI) of Dixon, CA. PG&E has added 10 of those trucks to its fleet, using them most recently when supporting communities affected by forest fires, where it was used to power evacuation camps.
The truck, which retains its powerful diesel engine to keep things charged up, is capable of supplying enough electrical power to keep the lights on in 100 homes. In addition, it has charge ports so electric vehicles can use it for Level II (240-volt) charging and also has ports to charge personal electronics. The truck itself can also plug in to recharge its battery, which is capable of exporting 120 kW of power to the grid. It’s also capable of running more than 30 miles on EV power only. The company also has deployed similar hybrids that use electric power to run auxiliary operations like buckets and booms.
In recognition of its far-flung service territory (PG&E’s area of service covers 70,000 square miles, a land area larger than all but 16 states), PG&E is in the process of changing out its CNG-
The Tesla Model X continues to draw a crowd
powered light-duty vehicles for plug-in hybrids like the Chevy Volt and Ford C-Max Energi. The company also offers charging at most of its facilities (it has installed 451 charging points at company sites according to its spokesman) for what it says is the equivalent of $1/gallon gasoline.
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Clean Fleet Report has driven and tested most of the vehicles mentioned in this article and will be updating many of those tests soon.
Road Test: Audi A3 e-tron
Road Test: BMW i3
Road Test: Cadillac ELR
Road Test: Chevrolet Volt
Road Test: Fiat 500e
Road Test: Ford Focus Electric
Road Test: Ford Fusion Energi
First Drive: Kia Soul
Road Test: Nissan Leaf
Road Test: Volkswagen e-Golf
It’s a New Year and the Hardware Is Looking Great
Contributed by Sam Wright
Are you worried about the size of your carbon footprint? Here are the Top 5 plug-in cars that you can buy this year.
The BMW i8 is not the kind of car that is affordable for most people. It’s a pretty expensive car, in fact. But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s an amazing car for anyone who can afford to buy
It looks like it can fly
one. It has a 22-mile electric-only range, but you wouldn’t think it was an electric car to look at it. It looks like the most stylish and impressive BMW car you’ve ever seen. With a slick, streamlined body, and an ability to go from 0 to 62mph in just 4.4 seconds, the i8 is a very impressive vehicle.
Audi A3 e-tron
Of all the plug-in hybrids on the market today, this one is certainly among the most convincing. And being convincing is a big deal when you’re trying to convince people to switch from an ordinary fuel-burning car to a plug-in hybrid. It’s a car that looks like a classic family hatchback that offers assurance and reliability. They are clearly trying to target drivers with families. And the fact that the car is full of all the latest technology will help sales as well. That it’s a plug-in hybrid is just an extra positive.
Toyota Prius Plug-in
The Prius has been associated with low emissions driving for quite some time. But each time Toyota brings out a new version of the car, they continue to show that they can improve on the formula. If you’re in England, visit Inchcape Toyota to find out how much it cost to buy one. Toyota should have a new version of their plug-in model out this year.
The e-Golf will get you there
The Volkswagen e-Golf is not a great deal different from the Audi A3 e-tron. They offer a lot of the same things since they’re based on the same platform. But the e-Golf is a pure electric while the e-tron also carries a internal combustion engine. The VW is a slightly cheaper solution to your plug-in needs. If you want to get to where you need to go in an efficient way, give it a try.
Mercedes-Benz is continuing to push out the new hybrid technology. The very best and latest one they have produced is the Mercedes-Benz C350e. The car looks great, and it drives even better. In fact, many people have said that the hybrid engine makes the classic Mercedes driving experience even better than it was before. You get a smooth ride, and you can keep your running costs low at the same time. What more could a driver want from their car?
It’s looks like it’s going to be a great year to plug in and drive off.
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First Drive: 2015 BMW i8
Road Test: 2014 Toyota Prius Plug-in
Road Test: 2014 Volkswagen e-Golf
VW Hits the Electric Car Market—Hard
Much debate always ensues when a major company brings a product to market after its competitors have already launched theirs. Does it have to be just a little bit better or must it break new ground and redefine the category? When you’re the 13th entry in a segment, how do you distinguish yourself?
Volkswagen’s answer to those marketing challenges for the e-Golf essentially comes down to the way it markets most of its cars. That is: “Hey consumer, it’s a German-engineered car you can
German engineering – das electric
afford.” The 2014 Volkswagen e-Golf is, first of all, a VW Golf—and that’s a good thing. The Golf is an efficient hatchback that’s now in its seventh generation and has evolved into a great road machine with enough creature comforts so it doesn’t feel like a stripped-down sports machine. It’s a real car that’s fun to drive. And the electric version carries that tradition into the zero tailpipe emissions world.
It’s not surprising the Golf is as well-tuned as it is. The model going back to Rabbit days has carved out a reputation for good road-handling as well as fuel efficiency. The strut-type front suspension for the driven wheels is augmented by coil springs, telescopic dampers and an anti-roll bar. In the rear you have a multilink suspension with coil springs, telescopic dampers and an anti-roll bar. Add to that the almost 700 pounds of the 24.2 kWh Panasonic lithium-ion battery pack under the rear seat, and you’ve got a car that not only stays planted to the road, but has the ability to handle whatever curves are thrown its way. Even with the 16-inch low rolling resistance tires, the grip is impressive.
We mentioned that this is the seventh generation Golf. The model has been around for 40 years now, which would make it its ruby anniversary. Since rubies don’t necessarily look great on cars, the logical present for the e-Golf might be one of the Bosch home charger systems that VW offers along with the car. To close the loop on sustainable electricity, VW is working with SunPower to
The “e” difference
allow e-Golf customers to install a solar system to supply clean power and set up an energy storage system.
Volkswagen is making its own anniversary present for e-Golf purchasers by investing $10 million into an express-charging corridor that ChargePoint has commited to build on the east and west coasts. When completed, that system will feature 100 DC fast-chargers spaced no more than 50 miles apart along major highways. VW will augment this additional fast-chargers at some dealer locations.
So that’s the evolving landscape of the electric car in 2015. Thinking back 40 years to when the Golf first appeared, the price of gasoline was 35 cents a gallon and stations were ubiquitous. Nobody other than thrifty college student who outgrew their Beetles were looking for the kind of fuel economy and utility offered by a compact hatchback. Fast forward to Clean Fleet Report testing the e-Golf; gas prices were at least six times the 1975 price and electric cars are starting to make sense, particularly as fast-charging helps make them into something other than a short commuter.
Real-World Range Anxiety
The 2014 Volkswagen e-Golf has an estimated range of 70-90 miles according to VW. We put that to a test with an 80-mile roundtrip down the coast that included a climb up and over an 1800-foot set up hills—twice. The e-Golf performed flawlessly, accelerating and holding its own on the freeways, but on the freeway and climbing the hill the range dropped precipitously. Those unfamiliar with electric cars might not realize that 90 miles of range does not necessarily mean 90 miles in the real world. Hills, freeway speeds and quick acceleration all drop that range quicker than the actual miles you may travel. The same phenomena occurs with a gasoline car, but given a typical 300-mile range for a gas-powered car, the effect is less noticeable.
In an electric that’s not the case. I had not nearly charging opportunity at the trip’s midpoint, so as headed back I climbed the hill and saw the range drop to very close to the distance I needed to
Three modes of driving from one motor
travel to get home. A moment of panic set in as I calculated tow charges and potential lost time. I wondered what the Golf would do when it ran out of juice. Would it stop in the lane, or would I have the chance to pull over to the side?
Then something amazing happened. In the same way coasting down a hill ups a gas car’s fuel economy, the effect on an electric is even more dramatic. As I zipped down the hill, my range increased and regenerative braking added even more to the electric “tank.” I breezed home with miles to spare. The range estimate of the Golf turned out to be fairly accurate, even with two hill climbs and sustained freeway driving. I experienced in that short drive what many EV drivers report as they grow more accustomed to their cars; you quickly get a sense of exactly how far you can go and you adjust your drives to fit the range and recharging opportunities.
Three Driving Modes
That trip also gave me a chance to test out the three driving modes the e-Golf offers—normal, Eco and Eco+. The latter, which of course delivers the maximum range, was my default as I tried to make sure I could stretch the electrons to complete my trip. But—and it’s a big but—it’s not the way you want to travel if you’re on the freeway. Top speed is limited to roughly 60 mph and acceleration is stifled in a move to conserve battery juice, so using it around town or when truly stressed about getting to your next charge point (as I was), is the recommended use. On the other hand, the Eco mode delivered acceptable freeway and around-town performance and the car’s ability hold its own in traffic didn’t seem to be compromised severely. Another feature of the three modes is an increasingly aggressive regen action on the brakes.
Toppled from the top of my list
Of course, normal mode is as it implies; maybe even more than it implies, since as I’ve said the e-Golf is in most ways a true Golf. It’s a fun-to-drive, functional car that transfers the driving performance of a GTI into an electric vehicle. In many ways it resembles what Fiat has done with the 500e, where it gave Abarth-like performance to its electric model. We think this is a good thing, something that will help electric cars gain their rightful place in the automotive world.
Mentioning the 500e brings us back to the bottom line with the e-Golf. It has displaced that fun little runabout as our favorite electric car. Chalk one up for functionality. The e-Golf loses none of its four-door, four-passenger (five in a pinch) capacity while adding the option of cargo space similar to a small SUV with the rear seat folded down (52.7 cubic feet). Unlike some of the models out there, no interior space was lost in the conversion of the traditional Golf to electric mode. It may not have the style of the little Fiat, but it tries with its unique C-shaped LED running lights. All-in-all, the e-Golf may be a little late to the party, but it looks like it’s ready to get-down and boogie with the best of them.
Here’s a look at some of the nuts and bolts of the e-Golf.
Providing the power in the 2014 Volkswagen e-Golf is an 85 kW (115 hp) synchronous AC permanent magnet electric motor that cranks out 199 lb-ft of torque. Juice comes from the 323-volt lithium-ion battery and is delivered to the wheels through a single speed transmission. As mentioned, the power can be delivered in three driving “styles.” The normal mode allows full use of the available horsepower and torque, enabling 0-60 acceleration of just over 10 seconds and a top speed of 87 mph. In “Eco” mode, power is limited to 94 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque and the air conditioning and accelerator pedal have different response curves. Top speed is 72 mph and it will do 0-60 in about 13 seconds. The “Eco+” mode responds to the conservator in everyone by limiting power to 74 hp and 129 lb-ft of torque, a top speed of 56 mph and less responsive accelerator pedals and no air. Not to worry, if you find the need to truly accelerate and mash the pedal, the car will shift back to “normal” mode and deliver the needed power. Regenerative braking also has three driver-selectable modes that recapture differing amounts of braking energy. A 7.2 kW onboard charger allows charging in three possible modes—11/120-volt wall socket (in 20 hours), a 240-volt wallbox (less than four hours) or a DC fast-charger using the Combined Charging System (CCS, 30 minutes).
Pricing on the e-Golf is fairly similar to its competition. The list price is $35,445 and typically 36-month $299 leases are available in select states (with $2,349 down). Package deals with the Bosch
An upscale interior to go with its upscale price
home-charging system are available. The level of standard equipment is fairly high, including LED headlights and DRLs, the 7.2 kW onboard charger, 16-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, a heat pump, a touchscreen navigation and infotainment system, Sirius XM Satellite Radio, a Media Device Interface (MDI) with iPod integration, Bluetooth connectivity, VW Car-Net connected services, V-tex leatherette seating surfaces, leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel and shifter knob, heated front seats, Climatronic dual-zone automatic climate control, front and rear Park Distance Control, rearview camera and rain-sensing wipers.
Like the gas and diesel Golfs, the e-Golf comes with a full complement of safety equipment, including six airbags and a variety of electronic and mechanical driver assistance and safety systems, such as Electronic Stability Control (ESC), four-wheel, three-channel anti-lock brakes and an Automatic Post-Collision Braking system that applies the brakes when a collision is detected by the airbag sensors.
Say ahh, how functional
The 2014 Volkswagen e-Golf comes with a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain limited warranty and 3-year, 36,000-mile new vehicle limited warranty. The battery’s limited warranty covers it to eight years or 100,000 miles. The car also comes with what should be a must for electric car owners—a 3-year/36,000-mile roadside assistance program and a 1-year/10,000-mile Carefree Maintenance Program that covers the car’s first scheduled maintenance at no charge.
The e-Golf may be arriving late on the electric car scene, but it feels like it is worth the wait. The car delivers all of the fun of a gas/diesel Golf with no petroleum. It’s a great package and worth a look. It answers emphatically that an electric car can be virtually indistinguishable from its gas/diesel brothren, but still shine in its own merits. The 2014 Volkswagen e-Golf isn’t the first, but it’s got our vote as the best of the mainstream (i.e., affordable) electric cars.
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