As of now, the best electric cars are really nothing more than a trend. But how long will it take until most of the world is tossing out their gas-guzzlers and cradling their new rechargeable electric vehicles? As with any new trend, price will be an issue for most consumers in the beginning. However, as technology changes and improves, prices may come down and these rolling batteries may increase in popularity. There’s no doubt that crude oil is a natural resource that will not last forever. Sunlight, on the other hand, is an abundant energy source and could be fused with the electric technology of the plug-ins to extend their driving distance, power and decrease their price even further. Not to mention the reduction in air pollution that is sure to be a benefit as their popularity increases. As with any new technology, it’s going to be judged with a skeptical eye. So let’s take a look at who’s getting it right so far, the best electric cars.

1. Tesla Roadster             MSRP: $109,000

Tesla is leading the way in electric car technology. Unfortunately, they’re also leading the way in price. Still, you can go farther (up to 244 miles) on a single charge in a Tesla Roadster than almost any other electric vehicle available today. It is also one of the most stylish of the electrics, reminding the driver more of an exotic sports car than a sardine can on wheels. It can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in just 3.7 seconds and has a mobile adapter that will plug into any 110v or 220v socket for recharge. For those who don’t mind something a little smaller, the Tesla Model S is also available for almost half the price of the Roadster and will have a slightly larger range of 300 miles and a quick charge feature that can charge the vehicle in as little as 45 minutes. (www.teslamotors.com, www.motortrend.com)

2. Nissan Leaf                MSRP: $32,780 Nissan Leaf

Although the price is right, the distance is lacking for the Leaf. Still, Nissan is on the right track in performance. This one has a speed that will top out near 90 mph and acceleration is in the range of most V6 gas engines. It is slightly larger than the family of electrics hitting the market right now, seating up to five people, but is still fairly small even by compact sedan standards. It features three separate charging levels which can have the vehicle ready for travel in as little as 30 minutes on quick charge, though quick charging will only get you to 80% power. The Level 1 charge takes closer to 20 hours to reach full charge capacity. Hopefully Nissan is working on technology that will lengthen the distance the Leaf will travel in the future. (www.nissanusa.com, www.motortrend.com)

3. Ford Focus BEV             MSRP: Unannounced as yet


The release of the Focus BEV was originally scheduled for the 2011 model year but it has been pushed back to a 2011 release for a 2012 model year. Its range is in the neighborhood of the Nissan Leaf, getting a max of 100 miles on a full charge and a top speed of 85 mph. Recharge time is slightly better, taking between 6 and 8 hours for a full charge on a 220v socket. “With a sophisticated electric powertrain, the zero-emissions Ford Focus BEV delivers nearly as much torque at the wheels as a 2010 Ford Mustang V-6. It also stores enough energy to power an average household for 24 hours.” Still, it’s small and the price has yet to be announced. Until consumers know what they’ll be spending for this new technology, it’s hard to rank this one any higher. (www.ford.com, www.motortrend.com)

4. Toyota Prius PHV              MSRP: $3,000-$5,000 more than conventional Prius

This is another one that will probably hit the road for the 2012 model year. Still, its going to be interesting to see what the world leader in hybrid technology does in the realm of all-electric vehicles. It’s hard to imagine them being able to top the Tesla in distance, but really, who can? What’s nice about the Prius PHV is the fact that it uses two all-electric batteries and has a third battery that it can fall back on to utilize more of a hybrid mode like a traditional hybrid Prius, making sure that should it run low on charge, there’s much less of a chance that it will leave you stranded. If the price above is any indication of what the actual MSRP will be when released, this one may be worth taking a shot at right out of the gate. (www.toyota.com, www.motortrend.com)

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