2011 Smart electric drive
The 2011 Nissan Leaf has a waiting list. So does the 2011 Chevrolet Volt, and as for the Tesla Roadster, well, it's probably too expensive.
So what do you do if you want to drive around in a plug-in vehicle right now? You could always build one, but that seems like too much hard work. Instead, you could head along to one of the smart centers across the country that have limited numbers of the 2011 smart fortwo electric drive available.
We regard the tiny EV as the best variant of the smart there is, and it's not just because we love electric cars. The electric drivetrain is the reason it's the best though, as it seems to suit the car perfectly and progress is made significantly smoother without the clunky gearbox you find in the gasoline version. It even seems to handle and ride better thanks to uprated BRABUS suspension in combination with the low center of gravity afforded by the battery packs.
If you spend most of your time in the city and rarely carry passengers, the electric drive could be right up your street. Although you can't yet buy one outright, smart have a number of them available to lease at selected smart centers across the country.
The lease price is still pretty steep - after laying down an initial $2,500, you'll then pay $599 a month (or $649 if you want to drop the top in the convertible) over the four-year duration of the lease. By comparison, a 2011 Nissan Leaf is only $349 a month to lease.
You'd have to be confident you could live with the performance too.
At lower speeds the fortwo electric drive is absolutely fine - in fact, you'd probably find yourself surprising bigger and more powerful cars away from the lights, such is the way the smart steps off the line. The quicker you go though, the less performance you have access to until the car tops out at around 62mph - so it's not suitable for freeway driving.
Stick to town driving and you'd probably be more than happy. It nips around corners with aplomb and the narrow width is surprisingly useful even if you can't nip through queues like you can on a motorcycle. The interior is a nice place to spend time too with a soothing ambience and funky design to help take your mind off how much you're paying.
Smart's website has a link to all the dealers supplying the electric drive. Unsurprisingly, most are focused around New York and California, but there are more dealers offering the electric smart than those that aren't, so you should find one nearby if you're interested.