When GM killed off its original EV1 electric car, a small group of fans and owners were up in arms. Reasons for its demise aside, had that first foray into the realm of volts and lithium-ion looked like any of the cars on these pages, it's likely the protests would have come from far and wide. These cars may be eco-friendly but they'll also make your friends green with envy, boasting gorgeous architecture, state-of-the-art engineering, luxe interiors and impressive performance numbers.
Tesla Motors' Model S sedan For 2012, Tesla Motors' Model S sedan joins its existing Roadster in bringing wholly electric performance to a discerning audience. The up-to 7-seater S (with rear-facing jump seats for kids) aims for greater sales numbers than the $109,000 2-seater droptop given a price, after U.S. federal tax credits, of $49,000 for the base model. This boasts a 160-mile range; there are also 230 and top-of-the-line 300-mile options. 415Nm of torque are instantly available for a 0-60mph of 5.6 seconds, 4.5 seconds with the Performance option. A 17" touchscreen accesses the usual nav and media functions plus WiFi and mobile connectivity and a customizable schedule for charging during cheaper off-peak hours.
Porsche 918 Spyder Reminiscent of the Carrera GT, the Porsche 918 Spyder is, sadly, just a concept. More's the pity given its supercar good looks and theoretically impressive performance numbers. Powered by both a 500-horsepower V8 and a pair of electric motors that produce an additional 218hp or 160kW, the 2-seater rockets to 62mph in 3.2 seconds, claims 198mph as its top speed, and is said to attain 78mpg. The two powertrains combine to offer four different modes of propulsion: E-Drive is electric power only, Hybrid melds the two in a Prius kind of way, Sport Hybrid sends more power to the rear wheels for a performance edge, and Race Hybrid takes the gloves off, mpg be damned.
Rolls-Royce Phantom 102EX Synonymous with the highest and most luxurious automotive echelons, Rolls-Royce is looking to the future with the Phantom 102EX, an experimental electric concept that puts a massive 1411-pound, 338-volt battery pack where a dozen cylinders would normally reside. 590lb-ft of torque and 389hp ensure the stately behemoth still glides to 60mph in under 8 seconds and the car achieves a respectable 124 miles per charge. Atlantic chrome paint and a composite-plastic Spirit of Ecstasy, imparted with an LED glow from its base, are custom exterior cues, while the interior uses more natural looking and less processed materials. Currently only an engineering exercise, it's been well received by owners while on its global exposure tour.
Fisker Karma Already arriving in owners' homes is the Karma from Fisker Automotive, the first plug-in luxury sports sedan that sits on 22" wheels and gives even the sexiest of Italian stallions a run for their money in the looks department. The circa $90,000 4-door delivers a 50-mile, all-electric, zero emissions range aimed at the reported 80% of U.S. drivers who commute less than 40 miles per day. Two modes – Stealth and Sport – optimize efficiency and traditional performance, respectively, and utilizing both the large lithium-ion battery and the 260-horsepower, 2-liter direct injected turbocharged 4-cyl gas engine will deliver a 300-mile range. Coming in 2013, the Surf will be a roomier, sportier hatchback model that increases its utility while losing none of its beauty.