Electric cars are the only real option for stopping carbon dioxide emissions from the tailpipe, and thus preventing global climate change. But as of today, you can't visit your local dealers' row and drive away in an electric car. Things are changing, though, and here is a selection of new electric cars we've seen at recent auto shows.
Nissan takes its existing Cube city car and fits it with an electric power train. Japanese automakers are well-positioned to build electrics, as most have small city cars to use as a platform. According to Nissan, the Denki Cube concept gets a 100-mile range from its lithium ion battery pack, and has a top speed of 75 mph.
The German-designed E-motion is constructed with production-grade components, making it a good candidate for production. The UPS-van-like four-seater is driven by an 8kW electric motor via a lithium ion battery pack, which gives it a top speed of 50 mph and a range of around 60 miles.
Mitsubishi's iMiEV is an electric car built on the company's i car platform. The i car will be marketed in the U.S. by 2010, although the electric iMiEV is only a test vehicle at this point. It can go for about 100 miles on a full charge with its lithium ion battery pack.
The R1e is driven by a 40-kilowatt motor which can push it up to 65 mph. Its lithium ion battery pack gives it a range of 50 miles and can be charged to 80 percent capacity in 15 minutes, using a special quick charger. Subaru placed two of these cars with the New York Power Authority for test marketing.
Th!nk, which has already released its Th!nk City electric car, is working on this five-seat electric car. The Ox is based on a space-frame architecture with two lithium ion battery packs situated in lower compartments. The batteries drive a 60kW electric motor and will have a maximum range of around 155 miles on a full charge.
Hybrid Technologies uses its proprietary battery management technology to convert existing cars, fitting them with lithium ion battery packs and electric-drive units. The Liv Wise is converted from a Toyota Yaris and has a range of 90 to 100 miles, with a top speed of over 75 mph.
The Zeo is very much a concept vehicle. Dodge offers few specifications about the electric power train, other than that its lithium ion battery pack would give it a 250-mile range. That number is unrealistic with today's technology.
Tesla is struggling to get its much-ballyhooed electric sports car into production. The Tesla Roadster uses a lithium ion battery pack to power its peak 185-kilowatt motor. Tesla claims a range of 220 miles and a top speed of 125 mph.