2011 Nissan LEAF in Boulder, Colo. for BolderBoulderEnlarge Photo
The electric auto industry -- more than the conventional auto industry -- is an extremely volatile and competitive place.
And unlike the mainstream auto industry, small-scale and boutique companies like Tesla Motors and Fisker Automotive actually compete for the custom of electric car buyers alongside major automakers like Nissan and Ford.
But while 2012 promises to bring a new wave of electric cars to market, which electric cars do we think will still be available to buy in five years’ time, and which cars will be long-forgotten in the history books?
Today, we’re going to focus on cars we think will still be available to buy in dealer lots across the country, but in future features we’ll concentrate on cars we think will still be a good used buy in five years -- and which cars we think you won’t be able to buy.
With a dedicated battery production facility being built in Smyrna, Tennessee and a huge commitment to making the Nissan Leaf through at least 2014, we think Nissan will still be making the Leaf in five years’ time.
But much like Toyota’s iconic Prius hybrid, we think the Nissan Leaf will probably be into its second major revision -- with a revised, more conventional body, higher performance and longer range battery pack.
In order to remain competitive, we’d expect a 2016 Nissan Leaf to have significantly dropped in price, with a sticker price before discounts between $18,000 and $23,000.
We’d also like to think Nissan’s controversial Carwings system will get much-needed revisions, improving range predictions and solving the niggles that its first generation telematics system has suffered from.
Since its inception 13 years ago. the gasoline Ford Focus has proven itself with consumers worldwide, as well as an impressive number of wins in various motorsports.
But with the third generation of the popular family hatchback came a variety of new drivetrain options -- including an all-electric model.
All-new 2012 Ford Focus ElectricEnlarge Photo
While the all-electric Focus isn’t even available to buy yet we think the Focus’ existing reputation as a gasoline car will transfer over to the Focus Electric, prompting many existing Ford customers to make the switch from the familiar gasoline model to electric one.
It’s difficult to predict what to expect of this model for 2016 -- but an increased range, better performance and lower sticker price are all highly likely.
Much like the Nissan Leaf, the Chevrolet Volt is a car which we’re certain will still be available in one form or another in five years’ time.
2011 Chevrolet VoltEnlarge Photo
Like its all-electric rival, the plug-in range-extended hybrid represents the first in a long-line of plug-in cars that General Motors has hinted will become an increasingly important part of its lineup.
What do we expect to be different about the Volt by 2016? We’re not sure, but a lower price is almost a given at this point. We’d also like to see an improved gasoline fuel economy, making running in blended or gasoline-only mode a lot closer in economy to the fuel efficiency offered by Toyota’s 2012 Prius Plug-in Hybrid.