BMW i3 Coupe conceptEnlarge Photo
This is an exciting time for electric car enthusiasts. From just a handful of choices only a few years ago, buyers in some states now have access to as many as a dozen different plug-in vehicles.
It's set to get even better--over the course of the next few years, another six electric vehicles are on the way. Here's our full run-down of the most important plug-in vehicles debuting over the next year.
The 2014 BMW i3 electric car isn't just important, it's exciting too--and it's nice to be able to say that about a new electric car.
BMW has explored electric vehicles before with thorough testing programs--significantly, the MINI E and BMW ActiveE electric vehicles--and that knowledge is helping develop the i3, a compact car based on a dedicated platform. A range-extended model will also be available, to quell those with range anxiety.
It's high-tech too, with a carbon-fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) unibody, and the i3's minimalist innards are trimmed in sustainable materials. It's all very futuristic, yet as tasteful and considered as any internally-combusting BMW.
And if the i3 isn't exciting enough, the i8 plug-in hybrid sports car will arrive shortly after...
2014 Cadillac ELR
2014 Cadillac ELREnlarge Photo
Back when Chevy launched the Volt range-extended electric car, it promised the Voltec powertrain would appear in other vehicles.
Well, this is the first "other vehicle" it's appearing in--the 2014 Cadillac ELR. Behind the sharp-suited Cadillac styling is a thoroughly modern drivetrain, utilizing the same 1.4-liter gasoline engine as the Volt, and a similar electric drivetrain.
We say "similar" because to suit the Caddy's upmarket status, ELR drivers do get a little more power and torque than their Volt counterparts. They also get two fewer doors, turning the ELR into a sleek and distinctive coupe. Electric range stays the same though, at around 35 miles. Deliveries should begin early 2014.
2014 Chevrolet Spark EV
2014 Chevrolet Spark EVEnlarge Photo
Initially, we suspected the Chevy Spark EV to be one of the small but growing range of "compliance cars"--electric vehicles designed and built solely to meet California's requirements for electric vehicle sales.
Thankfully, that isn't the case--Chevrolet is actually rather serious about the Spark EV, and as well as making it available beyond just west coast markets, they've thoroughly re-engineered the gasoline Spark for its new electric powertrain.
The styling differences are subtle--some blue paint here, a Volt-style grille there--but under the skin it's a real wolf in sheep's clothing. A 110 kW (130 horsepower) electric motor gives it far more shove than the gasoline model, and its 400 pounds-feet torque output matches that of a Ferrari 458 Italia supercar.
The Spark EV will go on sale in several U.S. markets, as well as Canada, South Korea and Europe. U.S. pricing starts at under $32,500, pre-incentives.