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Smart fortwo electric drive can be purchased from dealers in Spring 2013 for $25,000. After a federal tax credit of $7,500, the net cost is only $17,500. There are 300 of these 2-seat all-electric city cars in San Diego’s Car2Go car sharing and more in other cities such as Portland, Oregon. I was impressed with my test drive of the 2013 smart electric drive, now with a larger motor and new lithium battery pack.


Nissan LEAF is the sales leader of all-electric cars. This 5-door, 5-seat, hatchback has the right size and range for many who drive under 100 miles daily, or for households with more than one car. Nissan is now making the 2013 LEAF in Tennessee for the U.S. market with options that include Level 1 charge, Level 2 charge at 6.6 kW/hour, and 25-minute DC fast charge. The LEAF is the first electric car to earn five stars from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.Nissan delivers great value with the new 2013 price starting at $28,800. .


Mitsubishi i MiEV is an all-electric city car starting at $29,125, before federal tax credit. This fun-to-drive 4-seat 5-door micro-compact will still be able to get those precious city parking spaces that few U.S. cars can take. The more powerful U.S. version has an electric range of EPA adjusted 62 miles with a 16kWh lithium battery.


Pruis Plugin HybridToyota Prius Plug-in starts at $32,000. The Prius Plug-in cost about $7,000 less than the Chevrolet Volt, a plug-in hybrid with a 40-mile electric range in comparison to the Prius PHV’s 15-mile. After federal tax credits, the difference narrows to only $3,000. The Prius Plug-in costs about $8,500 more than the classic Prius Liftback, but the difference narrows to  $6,000 after Federal Tax Credit. Prius PHV Test Drive and Review


Chevrolet Spark EV is less than $32,500 and eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit. This sleek 4-seat all-electric city car shares much of the drive system design of the best selling and award winning electric Chevrolet Volt. 2013 sales will only be in California, Oregon, and Korea.


Ford C-Max EnergiFord C-MAX Energi, an exciting new Crossover SUV can seat five. C-MAX Energi offers 550 miles of overall driving range using the Sanyo lithium-ion prismatic battery, electric motor, and gasoline engine – more than any other plug-in. Ford offers the passenger room and cargo space of the . Its 20 miles of electric range beats the Prius Plug-in, but falls short of the Chevrolet Volt. The C-MAX Energi starts at $33,745. 


Ford Fusion Energi is a beautiful 5-seat sedan with more safety and telematics features than any other car on this list. Drive this plug-in hybrid for 20 miles of electric range, then a small efficient gasoline engine extends your range by hundreds of miles. The Fusion Energi goes on sale in early 2013 starting at $38,700, a big premium over the Fusion Hybrid’s $27,625.


Fiat 500e goes on sale in Spring 2013 and prices have not yet been announced. This 4-seat all-electric version of the popular Fiat 500 city car should have an electric range of 80 miles and be fun to drive.


Honda Fit EVHonda Fit EV looks just like the popular Honda Fit 5-door, 5-seat subcompact hatchback. The 2013 Fit EV officially has an MSRP of $36,625. Only in select pilot programs can it be leased f or $389 per month. The Fit EV Level 2 charges at double the speed of the Nissan LEAF and Mitsubishi i. 


CODA is $37,500, but discounts of over $14,000,  for an all-electric car with a larger lithium battery than offered by Nissan and Ford. My test drive of the new CODA showed that this new electric car is similar in handling and performance to the Nissan Leaf and Ford Focus Electric which I have also driven. CODA has more electric range than the LEAF and Focus Electric which each have 24 kW lithium batteries in comparison to CODA’s 31 kW lithium iron phosphate battery. CODA Review


ford focus electricFord Focus Electric starts at $39,200 with double the charge speed of the LEAF. You can go online and configure your car, select a dealer and place your order. Although Nissan and Chevrolet have been getting most of the electric car media attention, both automakers are worried about Ford who will give customers the widest choice of electric and plug-in hybrid cars and vans. Ford has also partnered with SunPower to offer an affordable rooftop solar system that will allow Focus Electric owners and other electric car drivers to “Drive Green for Life,” and charge with solar. Ford Focus Electric


Chevy VOLTChevrolet Volt was awarded Car of the Year by Motor Trend and Automotive Magazine and awarded Green Car of the Year by Green Car Journal. General Motors is the current plug-in hybrid leader with the Chevrolet Volt, a plug-in hybrid with 40 miles of electric range and total range of 400 miles by engaging a small gasoline engine that is coupled with an electric generator. Our Volt Test Drive showed that this is plug-in hybrid is sportier to drive than regular hybrids and a great 4-door, 4-seat sedan for those who want to minimize fill-ups and avoid range anxiety. The Volt starts at $39,145 with nice tax credits or $350 monthly lease.


The above list of all-electric and plug-in hybrid cars expected to be selling and/or leasing in the United States in 2013 with the lowest cost. Our apologies to Honda Accord, Tesla, Fisker and others that did not make the price cut.

Future Electric Cars

Small electric city cars are becoming popular in car sharing, campuses, and cities with parking space challenges. The Smart Electric Drive is popular in car2go car sharing in San Diego and Portland. The new Scion iQ-EV was fun to drive, but Toyota is only putting 90 into U.S. car sharing and campus programs. The Mitsubishi i is in car sharing programs and city dwellers are buying this micro-compact. BMW has 70 Active E coupes in DriveNow’s San Francisco car shring program and is preparing for sales of the i3 hatchback.

Nissan, GM, Toyota, Honda, and Ford will all expand the number and variety of electric vehicle offerings. All major automakers are all testing electric cars for 2013 and beyond. Tesla and Fisker are working at more affordable electric cars that fit on this “lower cost” list, although Tesla is selling the Model S with 265 mile electric range for $79,900 as fast as it can make them.

By 2020, Europe with higher fuel prices and fewer oil subsidies is forecast to have more electric cars by 2020 than the United States. Better Place may deliver 100,000 of the Renault Fluence with its switchable battery to Israel, Denmark, and other countries. Volkswagen may teach everyone how to extend range by making vehicles light. The concept Up Light weighs just over 1,500 pounds, but it’s only a concept. We loved test-driving the Volkswagen Golf Blue E-Motion, but don’t plan on buying it in the U.S. before 2014.

For three years, we have read about China’s plans to bring electric cars to the U.S. Although China’s U.S. ambitions have slipped badly, its automakers cannot be ignored. China has over 100 million light electric vehicles, e-bikes and e-scooters in daily use. It’s new 5-year plan calls for 100 million electric charging stations in China by 2020. BYD, with gold-plated investors such as Warren Buffett, has only put a few hundred electric vehicles on the road in China and continues to delay introduction to the United States. Volvo, now owned by China’s Geely has the new C30 Drive E Electric, but the Volvo electric car will be selling only in Europe in the short-term. SAIC, Chery, and hundreds of players are also preparing EVs for China.

Japan and China will not be the only Asian electric car competitors. Hyundai and Kia are now selling impressive hybrids with lithium batteries. In the years ahead, Hyundai plans to offer electric cars and even a hydrogen fuel cell SUVs for under $40,000. India might bring us a Maharinda Reva or Tata EV that under prices everyone, but not by 2012, the basis for this report.

What is certain is that you have a growing selection of electric and plug-in hybrid cars expected to be sold with starting prices between $29,125 and $39,995 in the U.S.

John Addison is the founder of Smarticd and continues to occasionally contribute to the publication. He is the author of Save Gas, Save the Planet and many articles at Smarticd. He has taught courses at U.C. Davis and U.C. Santa Cruz Extension and has delivered more than 1,000 speeches, workshop and moderated conference panels in more than 20 countries.


Yan September 27, 2011 at 2:24 am

Compared with the Top 10 players, it’s nothing to say about the Chinese automakers in this EV field, it’s true, China has big market , but, it’s still a long way for the ordinary people to buy one.

John Addison October 2, 2011 at 10:50 am

The final paragraphs discuss Chinese cars being late to the U.S. market. This article is about lowest cost freeway-speed electric cars selling in the U.S. in 2012.

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