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All-electric cars tested for performance, distance

January 23, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
More car companies are coming out with all-electric vehicles, with no gasoline needed. Several claim the equivalent of 100 miles per gallon or more. Plus you may qualify for a government tax credit of up to $7,500.

Ford calls the Ford Focus Electric the most fuel-efficient compact car in America. Consumer Reports finds it can get the equivalent of 107 miles per gallon. The engineers compared it with other all-electric cars, including the smaller sub-compact Mitsubishi i-MiEV.

"The i-MiEV is even more fuel-efficient, getting the equivalent of 111 miles per gallon," said Rik Paul, Consumer Reports. "It's also easy to park. But it's slow and cramped, and it rides stiffly. In fact, our engineers thought it felt more like a glorified golf cart."

With any all-electric car, a primary consideration is how far it will go on a charge. Consumer Reports found the i-MiEV's range is about 60 miles.

"It takes 21 hours to recharge the i-MiEV on household current, but you can get a 240-volt charger installed in your home that will cut the recharge time down to six hours," said Paul.

The most luxurious all-electric car so far is the Tesla Model S. It claims a range of up to 265 miles. Special charging stations can charge the battery halfway in just 30 minutes.

"Our initial impression of the Model S is that it's quick, agile, roomy and refined," said Paul. "But it's also expensive, starting at $57,000, with the top-of-the-line model closer to $100,000."

The Ford Focus Electric falls somewhere in the middle. The model that Consumer Reports tested costs $41,000, with a range of about 80 miles. A full charge takes less than four hours with a 240-volt charger.

The Ford Focus Electric performed well at the Consumer Reports test track, with impressive ride and handling.

More electric vehicles are on the way. Electric versions of the Toyota RAV4 and Smart Fortwo have just been released. Others are expected soon, including the Chevrolet Spark EV, Honda Fit EV and Fiat 500e.


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