2014 BMW i3 hits the race trackEnlarge Photo
Debate still rages on the best way to sell electric cars.
Should automakers be boasting of their environmental credentials? Or should they talk in a language people understand--money--and highlight the economic benefits? Maybe it's all about silence and refinement?
Rarely mentioned is just how fun electric cars can be to drive. So we've taken a primal, quantitative measure of driving fun--the 0-60 mph acceleration sprint--to rank each battery-electric vehicle on sale today, or on sale soon.
At the very least, it'll serve as a handy list of which cars not to try and beat from the next green light...
1. Tesla Model S Performance
You probably aren't surprised by this one. The Model S is comfortably the most powerful electric car on sale, and while it's also the heaviest it still offers super-sedan performance. If you like that airliner-on-takeoff feeling on your commute, this is the car to offer it.
2. Toyota RAV4 EV
Another car with Tesla influence (though not for much longer) and apparently Tesla-style performance--though the RAV4 is a Toyota product. With a 115 kW (154 hp), 220 lb-ft electric motor and a Sport mode, the RAV4 EV will see off most other crossovers and SUVs at the lights. A 103-mile EPA-rated range isn't bad, either.
3. BMW i3
BMW's electric city car has attracted attention for its styling more than anything else, but with a 130 kW (170 hp) electric motor driving the rear wheels and a lightweight carbon fiber reinforced plastic chassis, it's also brisk. It's worth noting that the extra weight of the range-extended model does dull performance a little.
2014 Chevrolet Spark EV - First Drive, Portland, July 2013Enlarge Photo
4. Chevrolet Spark EV
The key figure for the Spark EV isn't the 97 kW (130 hp) power output--though that's not bad for such a small car. No, it's the incredible 400 pounds-feet of torque, more than a Ferrari 458 Italia. Okay, so the Ferrari is still quicker and perhaps a little more attractive too, but the Spark comfortably sees off its combustion counterparts--which is much more interesting.
5. B-Class Electric Drive
Mercedes-Benz is pitching its upcoming B-Class Electric Drive as a rival to the BMW i3, and pricing is near-identical. It's got a little more interior space, but isn't quite as innovative in its construction and in terms of both acceleration and cornering, the BMW driver will be having more fun...
6. Honda Fit EV
The best demonstration of the Fit EV we've yet seen hasn't really called for outright acceleration--there's a limit to how much you can use sliding around on a frozen lake. But 8.5 seconds to 60 mph is still better than most compact cars, let alone subcompacts. And you still get all the other Fit benefits--an agile chassis and spacious interior.
7. Fiat 500E
The Fiat 500E is a hoot to drive whether you're going in a straight line or zipping around city streets, and a 0-60 dash of 9.1 seconds is similar to that of its gasoline counterparts. But let's be honest--you'd prefer to have that performance with a quiet, clean electric motor, wouldn't you?