The car of the future is here, and it does so much more than you imagined.
The Plug-in Pack
The skinny on three highly anticipated electric cars set to arrive in the next two years
Out this month
If you stomp the pedal, the engine’s revs don’t quite synch, and the regenerative brakes feel a tad touchy. Otherwise, the Volt drives like any midsize sedan, despite the fact that its combustion engine exists only to recharge the batteries feeding its electric motor. The Volt is pricey at $33,500 (after a $7,500 federal tax credit), but unlike pure electrics, isn’t range-limited.
Best for: Long-distance commuters and worriers.
So far, more than 17,000 people have placed paid reservations for America’s first real electric car — by which we mean, not a hybrid or a low-volume, big-buck novelty item. Unlike the Volt, the Corolla-size Leaf has no backup engine, but its stronger battery pack will last roughly 100 miles. It’s also cheaper than the Volt: $25,280 after the federal tax credit.
Best for: Errand-runners who stick around town.
Audi R8 e-tron
Like the SLS AMG E-Cell, Audi’s gasoline-free riff on its gorgeous R8 supercar is powered by four axle-mounted electric motors, making a total of 313 horsepower. Zero to 60 happens in 4.8 seconds, but top speed is limited to 124 mph in the name of preserving the batteries’ 154-mile range. What it lacks in outright velocity it gains in geek cred: Audi is working on wireless charging.
Best for: Country-club members with a conscience.
PHOTO CREDITS (FROM TOP): COURTESY AUDI; COURTESY NISSAN: COURTESY GENERAL MOTORS