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2011 New York Auto Show: Electric cars take charge

Consumer Reports News: April 29, 2011 02:58 PM

It’s the year of the electric car in New York. Or at least the latest year of the EV. The Nissan Leaf and the Chevrolet Volt launched this year to a lot of fanfare. Soon they will be joined by at least three other pure electric vehicles from major automakers, and potentially several more from startup car companies.

Among the electrifying announcements made last week during press days at the New York International Auto Show:

• Nissan North America Chairman Carlos Tavares announced Nissan would bring production of its first all-electric car to the United States next year and add a faster charger, which will cut charging time from about seven hours to four hours on a 240-volt, Level 2 charging station.

• Mitsubishi announced pricing of its upcoming “i” electric car: $27,990 before taxes. A federal tax rebate will bring that down to $20,490 when the car goes on sale on the West Coast next January. Pre ordering on-line started last week. President of Mitsubishi North America Yoichi Yokozawa said the company will introduce five more plug-in cars between now and 2015, two of which will come to North America in the next two years.

• BMW showed the ActiveE, its second-generation all-electric car based on the 1 Series coupe. The company plans to lease the car to 800 American households starting this fall for $450 a month, a lot cheaper than the Mini E lease that preceded it. Its electric powertrain will be the prototype for BMW’s first dedicated electric car, the carbon-fiber-bodied i3, expected in 2013.

• On the hybrid front, Porsche debuted the 380-hp Panamera S Hybrid, which costs $95,000 and Porsche says go 0-60 mph in less than six seconds. The Panamera S Hybrid promises to be the most efficient Porsche on the road. The company claims a European cycle fuel efficiency of 6.8-liters per 100 miles, or about 56 mpg, though the car hasn’t been tested on the EPA cycle, yet.

These electric cars come on top of a host of announcements of new hybrids (such as the Lexus LF-Gh) and traditional cars that get better mileage unveiled in New York this year, such as the Honda Civic, Hyundai Accent, Nissan Versa, and Subaru Impreza.

As Americans face tightening oil supplies and increasing gas prices, these alternatives can’t come any time too soon.

Eric Evarts

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