Despite all the new earth-friendly regulations recently imposed on automakers, no one has any idea what we'll be driving 15 or 20 years from now. But with the Obama administration's new emission requirements and their decision to axe over half of the government hydrogen fuel cell funding from '09s budget, a number of car companies are looking to put most of their marbles in the electric vehicle (EV) game.

One of those companies is Nissan. Even though they don't plan to drop their EV until late 2010, they've already got a test mule up and running for journalists to put through the paces. They brought their EV-02 (the only one in existence) through New York and we got a chance to push it around a little bit. Read on for our full review below...

PRICE:
TBD. According to Nissan's head of product planning, their EV will cost the same as one of their mid-sized family sedans, so think $25,000. Nissan has confirmed that the EV will qualify for the $7,500 tax credit.

SPECS:
At the time of our test drive, the only specs Nissan was able to give us were that the lithium-ion batteries used in the car were made by a partnership Nissan has created with a third party electronic company. So you won't be seeing the same battery tech in any other non-Nissan cars.

batterypack_625

RIDE:
Given that most of the driving population hasn't had the opportunity to drive a fully electric car, one of Nissan's (and every other company building an EV) biggest hurdle will be to make people believe that an electric car will drive just like their current gasoline powered ride. After driving Nissan's EV-02 we can say the general public has nothing to worry about. Well, except for the instant torque.

Unlike conventional motors that have to rev and rev to build their torque (the power that actually makes the wheels turn), electric motors have all their torque available immediately. What does that mean for you? Well, even though the EV-02 isn't the most powerful of cars, when you floor it, it takes off. We mean, tires chirping, head back, takes off. No need to turn this motors swag on.

Overall ride was smooth and velvety. The lack of noise was a little weird, especially since we couldn't turn the music on, but once we hit the first corner and the tires actually broke loose, we really didn't care. According to Nissan you will be able to get 100 miles out of a single charge which should be more than enough for most people.

EXTERIOR:
The EV-02 uses a Nissan Cube body as a mule. When the EV drops, Nissan will have developed an original body type. According to Nissan reps it will more than likely be a 5 door, hatchback to accommodate the battery packs. All we know is that it better look damn good.

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ONE MORE THING:
In order for electric vehicles to work, there will need to be a network of charging stations around the country to support them like gas stations do regular cars. Nissan is already working with major US cities including, Seattle, Phoenix and San Francisco to build out those networks. In order to make charging easier, the battery and the accompanying home charging station (which will cost around $1,000) will have three charging modes: Level 1 which will charge on a 110 volt outlet and will take over 8 hrs, Level 2 which will charge on a 220 volt outlet (the same as an electric dryer) and will take 4 hours (this is the one Nissan recommends) and Level 3 which is a fast charge will be on a 480 volt outlet and will take only around 26 minutes.

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU:
Nissan says that the only way the EV won't be more beneficial to your pocket than a conventional car is if gas drops below $1.10 a gallon. And since the current national average for gas is $2.27 a gallon, we don't ever see the $1.10/gallon being cheaper. Also, many argue that the coal burnt to generate the electricity powering these cars is just as bad as the emissions from gas powered whips, but according to Nissan, the EV will be 67% cleaner from well to wheel. So if you're looking to save major money at the pump and do mother earth a solid, electric cars seem like the way to go.

SUMMARY:
The EV-02 seems to have a lot of potential as long as the original body is attractive and the price isn't too crazy.

ev-prototype2_625