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Electric cars you can buy, soon

CNET Car Tech assembles a graph of electric cars and their announcement dates.

The time for talk is over; electric cars are hitting the streets. Over the next few years, at least 14 electric car models are slated for mass production. Although Tesla took an early lead with its Roadster in 2008, the risky move by Nissan to put the Leaf on sale late last year appears to have opened the flood gates. Now, names such as Ford, Honda, and Toyota are ready to join the fray.

Many of the electric cars hitting the road in the next couple of years will first find their ways into testing programs, leased to utilities and private companies that can maintain a fleet with unique maintenance needs. These programs let the automakers collect data on how the cars perform in the real world under more-defined circumstances.

As electric cars reach their on-sale dates, don't expect dealer lots to be crowded. Nissan announced an initial production run of 20,000 units for the Leaf, and almost immediately found buyers for each car. Initial high demand means the cars will be turned over to an owner as soon as they reach a dealer.

But as the quantity of models increases, not only should the cars become available for prospective buyers wandering a dealer lot, prices should also become more competitive. Likewise, charging infrastructure should improve, making parking-lot chargers at malls and other locations prevalent.

EV launch chart

This graph shows pure electric cars slated for mass production, along with the dates they will become publicly available, when known.