The first mass-market electric vehicles are about to go on sale in selected cities, kicking off the beginning of a wave of new green vehicles hitting showrooms over the coming year.
The Chevrolet Volt, from General Motors, and the Leaf, from Nissan, both launching in December, are just the beginning of the electrification trend. At least eight hybrids and 12 plug-in electric cars in every price range are planned for 2011, with another batch of electric vehicles (EVs) expected in 2012.
The rollout of these vehicles will be regional, starting with California and a handful of other states, including New York, Texas, Washington, Oregon, Arizona and Tennessee, among others. It could be several years before EVs are readily available across America. Each employs different powertrain technologies, so it pays to do your research at sites like www.hybridcars.com or www.pluginamerica.org.
A hybrid, as the name suggests, uses both a gasoline engine and electric motor to power the car, switching back and forth as necessary. A plug-in hybrid is similar, but comes with a larger battery that allows the vehicle to travel solely on electric power for short hops, but not for long stretches. An extended-range electric vehicle, like the Volt, can go up to 40 or so miles on electricity, after which a small gasoline motor kicks in to recharge the battery and keep driving. A pure EV, like the Leaf, runs solely on electricity and needs to be recharged every 100 miles or so.
When it comes to hybrids, Toyota’s Prius is the only one anyone ever really talks about, so it might surprise you that there are 27 other hybrid models already on the market today, including hybrid versions of the BMW 7-series, Mercedes S-class and Lexus LS.
Toyota paved the way with the Prius and Ford followed with the Fusion. You get a “head start” on all of this information if you attend the Annual Auto Show. Children love the Auto Show and learn so much about going green and state-of-the-art technology. Plus they give away really cool stuff.