Consumer Reports: Buzz on Latest Electric Cars

More and more car companies are coming out with cars that are all-electric—no gas needed. Several claim the equivalent of 100 miles per gallon or more. The government tax credit of up to $7,500 could have you thinking about getting an electric vehicle. Consumer Reports just tested some of the latest entries.

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

Consumer Reports found the i-MiEV even more fuel-efficient, getting the equivalent of 111 miles per gallon. It’s also easy to park, but it’s slow and cramped, and it rides stiffly. In fact, Consumer Reports engineers thought it was 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 around 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 house that will cut that time down to 6 hours.

NBC 5 reached out to Mitsubishi and the automaker had this response to the Consumer Reports testing:

We respect the right of Consumer Reports and any auto critic to express their opinion. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE) 2012 Fuel Economy Guide determined an efficient combined fuel mileage rating of 112 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent) for the Mitsubishi i-MiEV (126 city/99 highway). We encourage consumers seeking the environmental and economic benefits of an electric vehicle to test drive the Mitsubishi iMiEV at their local Mitsubishi dealer and decide about the vehicle's ride quality for themselves. We think they'll love it! A customer survey conducted by an outside research firm found that a full 96 percent of Mitsubishi i-MiEV owners would recommend the i-MiEV to a friend. As for the safety and structural integrity of the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, the 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV received an exceptionally good NHTSA overall crash rating of 4 out of 5 stars.

The Mitsubishi i-MiEV is rated by the EPA to attain 126 mpg equivalency in city driving and 99 mpg in highway driving and achieves a commanding “real world” EPA driving range of 62 miles (98 miles in the EPA LA4 city unadjusted).The Mitsubishi i-MiEV can be recharged using three advantageous methods: A 240V/15A Level 2 home EVSE Eaton charging system (estimated charge time from very low battery to full charge – 6 hours), a CHAdeMO Level 3 public quick charging station (estimated charge time from very low battery to 80% full – 30 minutes; requires optional DC charging port available as an option on SE trim level), and through the conventional 120V Level 1 portable charging cable that plugs into a standard wall outlet (estimated charge time from very low battery to full charge – 22.5 hours; included on all Mitsubishi i models).

Driving range of a 100% electric-powered vehicle like the 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV can vary greatly based on how the vehicle is driven and operated. Maintaining a consistent speed, smooth acceleration, and selecting the most suitable shift position is important for extending the range. “D” is the standard mode and provides full power access and normal regenerative braking effort; “Eco” slightly reduces overall power output thus conserving energy and slightly increases the regenerative braking capability; “B” provides full power with the strongest calibration of regenerative braking capability.

Roger Yasukawa
Manager, Product Communications
Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc.

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.

Consumer Reports’ initial impression of the Model S is that it’s quick, agile, roomy, and refined. But it’s also expensive, starting at $57,000, and the top-of-the-line model is closer to $100,000.

The Ford Focus Electric falls somewhere in the middle. The one Consumer Reports tested costs $41,000. Its range is about 80 miles. And a full charge takes less than 4 hours with a 240-volt charger.

The Ford Focus Electric performed well at the Consumer Reports test track, with impressive ride and handling. It proved a lot more fun to drive than the Nissan Leaf—the first of the new wave of electric cars

Manufacturers are delivering a steady flow of all-electric cars. Electric versions of the Toyota RAV4 and Smart ForTwo are just out. And others are expected soon, including the Chevrolet Spark EV, Honda Fit EV, and Fiat 500e.

Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports’ website.

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