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2012 Electric Car Comparison: All Electric Vehicles

Updated on January 9, 2014

Gone are the days when a large, odd-shaped, slow vehicle, made by some university nerds was the example of an electric car. Today, electric and "plug-in" hybrids are becoming more popular, are much more feasible, and a ton more aesthetically pleasing than the old solar "roach" looking car.

Although they are still a little pricey, especially for the size, the market for these vehicles is growing everyday. You may be looking to purchase an all-electric or you may just be curious about how far these cars can actually drive. Either way, below you will find the current 2012 electric cars on the market, how they compare with each other, and how they compare with similar sized gas and hybrid models. We will also take a look at some coming electric cars and possible breakthroughs.


The main electric vehicles on the market today are the Nissan Leaf, the Mitsubishi i MiEV, and the Ford Focus EV. Each of these three are ALL electric and have no fuel whatsoever. Although there are other vehicle that are called "Electric", such as the Chevy Volt and one model of the Toyota Prius (they are also called "plug-in hybrids"), they all tend to have a short electric drive range before they switch to gas power (about 40 miles for the Volt and 15 miles for the Prius). There are a few other cars that are in use in Europe or are about to come out in the US, such as the Peugot electric car and a returning Toyota RAV4 EV, and there are some high priced luxure electric cars such as the Tesla Model S, but such cars are either hard to get or are very expensive (or both).

2012 Electric Cars: Small Cars With A Big Charge..


Yes, the pun was intended, in two ways. First, these cars are able to hold much more energy in their baterries than the old solar car prototypes. Although there have been hybrid electric vehicles for many years, true electric cars have been impractical until now. Electric prototypes in the past have had to either have an exterior power source (solar car) or could only go a few miles due to past battery capabilities.

These cars are also rather expensive for their size. Although an average price tag for a compact car is around $20k, these three cars range from $29K to $35k for their base models. Even though you can get up to a $7500 tax credit when buying one that still makes these cars $2k - $8k higher than their gas or even hybrid counterparts.

2012 Electric Car Comparison: The Nissan Leaf

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The Leaf, Nissan's battery-electric compact, is probably the best known of these three electric cars. The Leaf, new in 2012 to Nissan's lineup, comes with nav screen, backup camera, XM radio, and more in its 5 seat interior. With plenty of creature comforts, including heated seats, to go along with a full air bag system, this car has something for everyone inside.

Under the hood, although you won't find any fuel lines or remnants of a gas engine, you will find horses. With 107 hp and 207 lb/ft of torque, the Leaf has as much or more power as its gas and hybrid compact competitors.

One of the main concerns of any perspective electric car buyer is its driving range. Many hybrid electric vehicles will only last 15-40 miles on their batteries, but the Nissan Leaf can reach 100 miles before needing a charge with a 106 city / 92 hwy MPGe (a relatively new measurement for electric driving for an equivalent cost/distance ratio as MPG). This distance is more than enough for most day to day driving. With its "Regenerative Braking System", a driver can recharge their own battery a small amount simply in braking properly.

2012 Electric Cars: Do The Mitsubishi i MiEV

Although the i MiEV is generally overshadowed by the Leaf, it packs quite a punch of it's own. This 4 seater is smaller than the Leaf and has a smaller engine as well. With only 66 hp and 145 lb/ft of torque, the i MiEV has a slower acceleration and lower top speed.

Where the i MiEV makes up for its weakness is in its MPGe. The Mitsubishi electric car has a 112 MPGe efficiency rating (126 city / 99 hwy). Although its's 62 mile range is slightly less, the i MiEV has excellent mileage for the conscientious commuter.

The i MiEV also has the lowest initial price tag. With a package starting at around $29,000 (before $7500 tax credit), this car is much easier than the other two for the average car buyer to afford.

All Electric Comparison 2012: The Ford Focus EV

Nissan Leaf
106 city / 92 hwy
Starting at $35,200
Mitsubishi i MiEV
126 city / 99 hwy
Starting at $29,000
Ford Focus EV
110 city / 99 hwy
Starting at $39,200

Only a few years after adding the Ford Focus to their lineup, Ford is offering an all electric Ford Focus for 2012. This battery-electric compact makes saving on transportation simple. The Focus boasts a 76 mile range, almost twice that of the Chevy hybrid electric Volt, which is plenty of distance for most inner city drivers and even many commuters.

The Focus has a 23 kWh lithium-ion battery system that powers an all electric engine. Similar to the other electric cars, the Focus has a braking system that "reclaims" power to recharge the batteries while you are driving. One added benefit of the Focus is the "Driving Coach" that helps you learn how to drive and break to get the optimum performance out of your car.

With an estimated 110 MPGe, the Focus will save you plenty of money on fuel, but the initial price tag for the Focus is probably its largest downfall. The Focus EV starts at $39,200, $4,000 more than the Leaf. Although it does seam a little larger than the Nissan, Ford will have to get this initial investment lower to garner more attention from the "Green" market.

Electric Vehicles On The Horizon

With increases in battery capability over the past decade, advancements in all-electric use in the auto industry are bound to be around the corner. Already there are plans for an all-electric from GM called the Chevy Spark, a plug-in hybrid Cadillac, and as mentioned above, the return of an all-electric Toyota RAV 4. To make this technology more widely used, several aspects will have to be addressed.

First, the initial cost must come down. For now, the desire to be one of the first to own an all-electric, along with generous tax credits, have helped with some initial sales. However, for long term sales across a wider range of buyers, the increase in cost must be less than the amount that a consumer could save in fuel costs over 3-5 years of use.

Second, although the maximum distance an all-electric can go has increased, the average distance must be over 100-150 miles. Most Americans cannot afford a vehicle for everyday driving plus a vehicle for longer trips. If a commuter has a 60 mile range car and drives 30 miles to work and 30 miles home, he cannot take the family out to eat or run errands when he gets home. That is somewhat impractical.

Third, there will have to be an advancement in charging systems, both in placement and in speed. Although a battery-electric driver can drive all over California and have a charging system around every corner, the technology does not exist in most of the other states. Also, if a person is heading home from work, it is doubtful that they will want to stand at a charging station for 30 minutes waiting on their battery to charge.

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