With the price of gasoline on the rise almost daily many consumers have decided to fork over the extra cash and upgrade to an electric vehicle. There is a lot of buzz around electrics today, but my angle has always been that they cost way too much and offer way too little. However, as the market becomes more competitive and the government offers more incentives to buy these vehicles, prices are becoming more affordable, especially with the promise of saving some money at the pumps.
It's also worth noting that there is a lot of brand loyalty out there, and many who are still die-hard fans of the big three, namely Ford, Chevy, and Chrysler. In the spirit of American craftsmanship I thought it would be nice to showcase what they have to offer consumers in the way of green, affordable transportation.
Now, there are some limitations here. Ford is offering the Focus as an electric and Chevy has their popular Volt, but Chrysler is lagging behind, as usual and their electric hasn't arrived yet. What will it be? It won't exactly be a Chrysler at all, but for the purpose of the article it will serve. Chrysler aims to offer a hybrid from their newest partner company Fiat. The Fiat 500 Electric could be offered as soon as this year.
Ford Focus Electric:
First of all Ford claims you'll never need an oils change or need to burn any fuel, I like it already. It basically looks like any other late model Focus, which isn't exactly handsome, but it has come a long way since the model was first introduced. The interior features a standard cloth composed of 100% recycled material. Even the foam cushioning is derived from a biological plant oil-base. This could be interesting? Actually the interior stylings look really nice.
Apps, apps, apps. Ford offers them for the Focus. You can optimize charging and maximize range with an array of apps for your phone which allow you to remotely adjust air conditioning levels, charging option, and heater temperatures before you even leave your parking spot. It will be ready to roll. Another nice feature is designed into the brake rotors, which actually operate as a power generator when breaking is engaged. Basically, it charges every time you stop...bonus!!!
The best part is, it offers charging times nearly half of its major competitor, the Nissan Leaf. The car is packed with features and offers a lot in the way of environmental friendliness and curb appeal. The real downside is the nearly $40,000 starting price, ouch! I wish I had time for more, but we have to move on the the Volt.
The Chevy Volt is a little different because you still have the option to extend your driving range with a gasoline motor although it only boasts 83 horsepower and requires premium fuel. Impressively the electric motor sports over 270 lb. ft. of torque. The electric motor will only carry you about 36 miles on its own, but when coupled with the gas engine it extends that range about 350 miles.
I see two downsides to the Volt already. First off, on top of charging you still have to stay on top of things like cooling systems and oil changes. I don't like that. It also features a very small range, 36 miles on the electric motor. Secondly, like the Focus it costs $40,000. But this is deceiving, many readers have written in telling me about wonderful government incentives to purchase vehicles like the Focus and Volt.
Again the Volt has some decent curb appeal and offers just as many modern and stylish features as the Focus Electric, but also offers leather and heated seats. Very Nice if you live in the colder climates! Of course both Ford and Chevy offer you great navigation options which I am sure many of you already know about. Sorry to be brief, but we have to move on to the Fiat 500, our substitute for Chrysler's lack of effort or partnership, if you will.
Fiat 500 Electric:
So I am at a disadvantage here, Chrysler has yet to bring the Fiat 500 Electric to our market here in America. All I can really do is tell you a little about what the Fiat 500 currently offers consumers and hope that Chrysler will be proactive in giving us a real competitor for Ford and Chevy's offerings; sooner rather than later, hopefully!
First off, Fiat is currently offering their base model in a lease for zero down and $199. per month. They have my attention there, low lease rates are just as good as money saved at the pump, in my opinion. The vehicle does offer mileage in the high 30's as well so it's reasonably economical anyway. Of course you'll have to perform the standard engine maintenance on this one, oil changes, coolant, etc. Major negative here: not American, sorry Chrysler, you lose again!
The interior is not as plush or friendly as what the Focus and Volt offer by any means, it definitely has a utility-based appeal though. I guess what you get with Fiat 500 is affordable economy all the way around. Like I said, Chrysler is absent in this category, so they offer their Fiat brand partner. It's an economical solution, but Motor Trend can do a better job than me, so check out the following video: