2013 Fiat 500e live photos, 2012 L.A. Auto Show
2013 Fiat 500e live photos, 2012 L.A. Auto ShowEnlarge Photo
At 108 MPGe highway, Fiat's 2013 500e electric car is the most efficient highway vehicle on sale in the U.S. It also manages an official 87 miles of range, greater than that of other similarly-sized electric cars and more even than some larger models.
While the 500's retro looks will always be an acquired taste, it's one of the more visually interesting electric cars on sale too. Not just thanks to its eye-searing orange paintwork, but also for the aerodynamic wheels, large white front grille and other white detailing.
Inside there's plenty of white and orange trim too, while the usual 500 dual-layer instrument dials are replaced by a TFT screen showing car data. A four-button console occupies the space you'd usually find a gear shifter. Like the BMW i3, customers will also get the use of a free loaner vehicle for longer journeys.
It's just a pity then that, despite all the effort Fiat and Chrysler have put into the 500e, that this one will remain a compliance car--so good luck getting your hands on one outside of California.
Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-In Hybrid, 2012 Paris Motor Show
Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-In Hybrid, 2012 Paris Motor ShowEnlarge Photo
Mitsubishi is in the doldrums in the U.S. market, with low sales and a range of vehicles that do little to capture the imagination.
Perhaps the Outlander Plug-In Hybrid will change that, with more modern looks and a significantly greener powertrain than previous Outlanders. Under the hood there's a 2.0-liter gasoline engine, but twin 60-kilowatt electric motors--one for each axle--provide a healthy 245 pounds-feet of torque in electric-only mode.
Electric range in EPA testing is unconfirmed, but based on the Japanese 35-mile estimate, we're expecting a more realistic 20-25 mile range. Once that's depleted, you still have the engine providing backup power--though the Outlander can operate in series or parallel hybrid modes too.
2013 Smart ForTwo Electric Drive
2013 Smart ForTwo Electric DriveEnlarge Photo
Soonest to appear of all the electric vehicles above is the 2013 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive.
It may look like any other Fortwo, but this is now the third generation of the company's diminutive electric car and happily, it's also the best. It's a large step up from previous models with far better performance, a smoother drive and greater potential range.
It's also the cheapest electric car on sale in the U.S, starting at $25,750 before incentives. For those able to claim the full $7,500 Federal tax credit and California's $2,500 purchase rebate, you're looking at a brand-new, $15,750 electric car.
Top speed is 78 mph and it'll do 60 mph in under 12 seconds, so drivers won't feel too out of depth on the highway. The Electric Drive's biggest success though is how much better (and quicker) it is than the jerky gasoline version--proof that some vehicles are just meant to be electric.