Electric vehicles are the future. Or so they say. We're not completely sold, but we're willing to sit back and see what happens. The same can't be said for Detroit News columnist Neil Winton who, in a column last week, said that electric cars are "inferior in every way." Ouch. To be fair, he makes some good points, stating that they're too expensive and have a range too limited for most drivers. We personally don't see how electricity, which will more than likely be created by the burning of coal, can be the future of green motoring, but hey, we're not scientists. That said, whether or not anyone believes electric cars are the way to go, there are some worthwhile models on the market and on their way to market. Read on to find out which ones they are.

<!--more-->2011 Chevrolet Volt

WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: The Volt may be the most important—certainly the most talked about—electric car of the moment. It's the car GM is famously hedging their bets on. It's the car they brought down to Washington as proof of concept that the company was making a change for the better. A four door hatchback, the Volt is not fully electric. Once you go past 40 miles and 160 hp electric motor cuts out, the 1.0 liter gasoline engine kicks in and starts powering a 71 hp electric generator. It may be the most practical of them all.



WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: Well, besides having the best marketing campaign, the 110 hp, 100 mile range Leaf (Leading, Environmentally Friendly, Affordable, Family Car) will be the Volts main competition. They're not talking price yet, but we assume it'd be in the same range as the Volt's. One thing they claim will for sure be better is the price of ownership: using the Department of Energy's formula, they claim Leaf owners will dish out dough as if their car was netting 367 mpg. Amazing.



WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: Electric cars are fine in theory, but as much as people would like to believe that cars are nothing more than toasters on wheels—an transportation appliance—there are as many people who see cars as getaways and, or, status symbols. Something they can hop in and go nuts in. And something they can show off to the people at Starbucks. If electric propulsion is the future of the automobile, we're going to need a car like the Tesla Roadster. Built using a Lotus Elise frame, the Tesla Roadster is an all-electric, 248 hp sports car able of super car figures, like zero to 60 in around 3.9 seconds. And on the status side of things? To get one, you'll need $109,000.



WHY YOU SHOULD CARE:Well, it's a Mini. That means you get BMW craftsmanship, zero emissions and an incredibly fun chassis. Released only on lease terms in a limited run of 500, the E gained steam (or, current?) as drivers touted its livability. It was also the first electric car to reach the masses in such large numbers. With the only complaint being a sketcky brake feel, the Mini E, powered by an electric motor putting out around 200 hp and 161 lb-ft of torque, proved to many that this market is, well, actually a market.



WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: Compared to cars of similar size and build, electric cars are going to have a very noticeable price premium. Call it the penalty of leadership. But, as always, there's going to be one brand that keeps it cheap and that brand is ZENN (an acronym for Zero Emissions, No Noise). If you forgo some small luxuries like floor mats, a radio, air condition and battery insulation, you can pick one up for $17,245. Alright, so that may be a bit much to pay for a car that can't go faster 25 mph and feels like a tarted up golf cart on the inside, but expect to see a bunch of cars like these popping up in densely populated urban areas.



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