Concept and Discontinued Electric Cars

Automakers usually test the waters on new ideas for cars, including electric cars, by introducing a "concept" version of the vehicle. These concept electric cars, often unveiled at major international auto shows, can feature outrageous designs and cutting-edge technology, without regard to cost or feasibility. The idea is simply to see how the public will respond. These cars also serve as marketing, giving consumers the impression that an auto company is innovative (without the onus to deliver on conceptual innovations). These days, putting an electric powertrain is key strategy to show innovation. Most of these concept electric cars never go beyond an auto show display. If they do, many of the coolest (and least practical) features, don't make it into production. In other cases, a limited run of a vehicle makes it to the showroom, only to be discontinued a year or two later.

Aptera 2e

Electric Vehicle Coupe

100 miles (pure electric)
$27,000

Winner of the funkiest EV design award, the Aptera 2e (formerly Type-1), looks like a cross between a motorcycle and ultralight single-occupant airplane. Built near San Diego, the Aptera 2e is competing in the Automotive X Prize competition. Thousands of potential buyers paid a $500 refundable deposit in anticipation of production scheduled for late 2008, and then delayed a few more times. Only time will tell if the company can deliver to its loyal fans.

BMW ActiveE

Electric Vehicle Sedan

94 miles (pure electric)
$500

In the first half of 2012, BMW leased its first all-electric four-passenger car to 700
consumers in a few Northeast and West Coast cities. The BMW ActiveE will allow the company to further refine the requirements for a line of future electric cars.

Cadillac ELR

Plug-in Hybrid Coupe

37 miles (electric + gasoline)
$76,000

The ELR boasts an electric-only range of 37 miles and a total combined range of about 340 miles. The ELR shares most of its technical elements with the current Chevy Volt, including its 1.4-liter gasoline engine and 17-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The ELR features Cadillac's signature angular look, but that alone is not worth the steep price.

Coda Electric Sedan

Electric Vehicle Sedan

88 miles (pure electric)
$39,900

The Coda sedan has a relatively big EV battery, so it can deliver 100 miles of range on a regular basis. But at the end of the day, the car’s lack of style, amenities and ride quality, call into question why a potential EV buyer would go with Coda rather than other more capable electric cars on sale.

Fisker Karma

Plug-in Hybrid Sedan

32 miles (electric + gasoline)
$96,000

Despite missing a series self-imposed deadlines, Fisker Automotive managed to to bring its $96,000 400-horsepower four-seat plug-in hybrid to market in early 2011. But the company continues to be plagued by technical and business problems.

Ford/Azure Dynamics Transit Connect Electric

Electric Vehicle Wagon/Van

56 miles (pure electric)
$57,400

The Ford/Azure Dynamics Transit Connect Electric combines car-like driving dynamics, generous cargo capacity, and marketing opportunities for small businesses to emblazon the large exterior panels with green slogans such as “Zero-Emissions” and “100 percent electric.” The vehicle has a 75 mile per hour top speed and can drive up to 80 miles on a charge—matching the needs of a local delivery cycle.

Ford Escape Plug-in Hybrid

Plug-in Hybrid SUV

30 miles (electric + gasoline)
TBD

Ford is claiming that the Ford Escape Plug-in hybrid, a fully capable small SUV, can travel 30 to 35 miles using little or no gas—if driven in town and if the batteries are charged for six to eight hours using common household current. After those 30 or so miles, the vehicle reverts to acting like a conventional Escape Hybrid—which happens to be the most fuel-efficient SUV currently on American roads.

Honda Accord Plug-in Hybrid

Plug-in Hybrid Sedan

13 miles (electric + gasoline)
$40,700

The Honda Accord Plug-in Hybrid is pricier than its PHEV competition, but it comes in a very popular design, with more passenger space and lots of power. Honda engineers also managed to get an impressive rating of 115 MPGe.

Honda Fit EV

Electric Vehicle Sedan

82 miles (pure electric)
$36,600

Using the popular small-but-spacious format of the Honda Fit, the company offered a fully capable five-passenger all-electric version. The Honda Fit EV provides about 80 miles of range, and is rated at the equivalent of an impressive 118 miles per gallon. But Honda remains uncommitted to electric cars, so after making just 1,100 units over a 20-month period, Fit EV production will be halted.

Mercedes Vision S500

Plug-in Hybrid Sedan

18 miles (electric + gasoline)
$90,000

The Vision S500 Plug-in Hybrid can drive for about 18 miles solely on electricity. In the new European test cycle, that would produce a rating of about 75 mpg or 74 grams of CO2 per kilometer. Think of the possibility of a 70+ mpg S-Class sedan with all the comfort, safety and luxury of a top-of-the-line Mercedes.

Mini E

Electric Vehicle Coupe

100 miles (pure electric)
TBD

Approximately 500 of the Mini E cars were produced—and beginning in June 2009 leased to municipalities and individuals in Southern California, New York, and New Jersey. The long-term prospects of a mass-produced Mini E are uncertain, but that’s not the point of the project. BMW’s main goal was to learn about the driving and charging experiences of real-world drivers—and to use that info for creating a small all-electric car by 2013.

Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid

Plug-in Hybrid SUV

30 miles (electric + gasoline)
TBD

The Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid, a mid-sized SUV plug-in hybrid, initially debuted as the PX-MiEV at the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show. The vehicle’s lithium ion battery pack stores enough energy to provide about 30 miles of all-electric driving. When the batteries are depleted, a 1.6-liter 114-horsepower four-cylinder engine kicks on to either charge the battery or provide power to the wheels.

Tesla Roadster

Electric Vehicle Coupe

200 miles (pure electric)
$109,000

The Tesla Roadster will turn any driver into an electric car acolyte. The two-seat, soft-top sports car can do 0 to 60 mph in less than 4 seconds. The Roadster’s audacious acceleration comes from a 185-kilowatt electric motor powered by a 53-kilowatt-hour battery pack made up of 6,831 individual cells.

Think City

Electric Vehicle Coupe

120 miles (pure electric)
$34,000

Rescued from the brink of bankruptcy, Think emerged in late 2009 with a vehicle, a battery pack, and a manufacturing facility. With that in place, the company moved production of the plastic-bodied two-seat micro-car, capable of about 120 miles of range, to a manufacturing facility in Finland. The company is aiming for annual production of 5,000 units of The Think City —but faces tough competition from major automakers now producing electric cars.

Toyota FT-EV

Electric Vehicle Coupe

50 miles (pure electric)
TBD

Toyota tries to redefine commuting with a 50-mile, 70-mph small commuter car. The FT-EV, based on the platform of the iQ, will be like the EV baby brother to the hefty new Toyota RAV4 EV SUV.

Toyota RAV4 EV

Electric Vehicle SUV

100 miles (pure electric)
$50,700

The RAV4 EV is currently the only all-electric high-riding crossover SUV available in the United States, although only in select cities of California. The well-respected Toyota platform takes on a Tesla powertrain, making it the least expensive way to experience rip-roaring acceleration from the famous California electric car startup. Driving range is around 120 miles.

Volkswagen E-Up!

Electric Vehicle Coupe

80 miles (pure electric)
TBD

The Volkswagen e-up is a 10.5 foot minicar that seats four—three in front and one in back. Top speed is less than 85 miles per hour, with a 0-60 mph pace of about 11 seconds. The e-up! weighs about 2,400 pounds—with more than 500 pounds coming from the 18 kWh battery pack that can deliver about 80 miles of range from a single charge.

Volvo C30 Electric

Electric Vehicle Sedan

90 miles (pure electric)
TBD

The stats for the Volvo C30 Electric sedan may seem unimpressive: a range of about 90 miles, acceleration from 0-60 mph in 11 seconds, a top speed of about 80 miles per hour, and a leisurely eight hours to recharge the 24 kilowatt-hour battery pack from 220-volt household outlet. But when it comes to performance and safety, Volvo is testing its plug-in prototypes perhaps harder and longer than anybody in the industry, before committing to producing their electric models.

Volvo V70 Plug-in Hybrid

Plug-in Hybrid Wagon/Van

30 miles (electric + gasoline)
TBD

The Volvo V70 plug-in hybrid demonstration car uses a 11.3 kWh battery pack, to deliver 30 miles of EV range. That could be pricey, but Volvo will work to reduce cost by sizing the battery to meet, but not exceed, consumer needs. The battery pack is combined with a front-wheel drive diesel engine with a rear-wheel drive electric motor. Despite not having a conventional hybrid on the market, the company appears to be very serious about electric-drive technology.