The Electric car has been with us for well over 100 years. They're quiet, efficient and don't create any direct pollution.
As a consequence, they are an environmentally friendly form of transport that are starting to gain momentum and could quite possibly replace the petrol engine in smaller cars within the next ten years.
The choice of electric cars - otherwise known as "EV's" - has been quite limited, but in 2011 some of the mainstream manufacturers are launching new models. The Manufacturers include Nissan, Mitsubishi, Peugeot, Renault and TATA.
How does an EV work?
The car runs on a set of batteries and can be charged either at home with a normal power socket or at charging points installed around the country. The batteries store the power which is transferred to one or more motors.
Recharge time varies from model to model, but typically an 80% charge can be done in 2-2½ hours. New battery technology means that the next generation of EVs will be capable of being fully charged within a few minutes.
EV's have very few components compared to a normal car; they typically don't have a gearbox and the electric motors have very few moving parts. They still need servicing on a regular basis to check brakes, motor and batteries and an MOT is still required.
There are many advantages and disadvantages of electric cars. Having used one of these vehicle since 2006 we have a true picture of what they are like to own and use.
If you want to know more have a look at our electric car facts page.
Electric Cars Available
Most of them are small cars best suited to inner city driving, but there are also family and high performance super cars now becoming available. Some of these cars have Ferrari beating performance and 200 mile plus ranges - proving that a car powered by electricity doesn't have to be slow, boring and limited to in-town use.
The Mitsubishi Electric Car was one of the first mainstream cars to be launched. In the UK Mitsubishi have been involved in a year long trial, which we were part of.
We had an oppotunity to test drive the Nissan Leaf. It is a family sized car with a range of 100 miles.
Our driveway including the Mitsubishi i MiEv, TATA Vista Indica EV and Reva G-Wiz
The Tesla Roadster are electric high performance cars offering 0-62 in less than 4 seconds and a range of over 200 miles
Electric cars have rapidly become popular in the centre of London, where they are exempt from the congestion charge and have free parking in many car parks.
As a result of this, there are around 1,500 electric city cars now driving around London and this figure looks set to increase dramatically over the next few years.
Councils are encouraging their use by installing electric charging points, and this lead has now been taken up by a number of shopping centres and private car park operators.
The best selling EV in the UK is the Reva G-Wiz - a small two door microcar with seating for two adults and two children, a range of 50 miles and a top speed of 50mph. There is an owners club for the Reva G-Wiz which includes useful information, tips and advice.
Mainstream Manufacturers that have now launched electric cars include the Nissan Leaf, Tesla and Mitsubishi i MiEV. Later in 2011 the Peaugeot i On and Citreon C-Zero will also hit the market.
The 2011 Electric Car Guide
If you are considering buying one of these vehicles it is worth reading our books, which are available online or to order from bookshops. The books include what they are like to own and use everyday, reviews from other owners, environmental impacts and real range tests.
We have written edition for Mitsubishi i MiEV and Reva G-Wiz. We are also in the process of writing a version for the Nissan Leaf and Peugeot i On, we hope to release them mid 2011.
We have also produced a blog of our everday use and test drives of electrically powered vehicles.
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