Ten Electric Cars Coming in 2012

By · December 26, 2011

The year 2011 was a landmark year for EVs. We witnessed regional launches of the Nissan LEAF and the Chevy Volt. These two plug-in cars were the start of a new era for electrified personal transportation. The current American car auto fleet, however, is enormous—and two models alone cannot create change on a large scale.

During 2012, these two plug-in cars will have—depending how you look at it—either competition in the marketplace or help in the movement to electrify transportation.

This coopetition includes the Ford Focus Electric, the much-anticipated Tesla Model S, and others. Pike Research predicts that more than 250,000 plug-in vehicles will be sold globally in 2012. Regardless of whether or not this prediction comes true, 2012 will bring more choices in vehicle style, brand, size, performance, and price, for cars with cords.

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S

Here is my top 10 countdown of plug-in cars to look forward to in 2012:

10. LEAF and Volt (Expanded Markets): First on my list is expanding availability of the two cars that kick-started the new era of plug-in vehicles. General Motors rolled out the Volt in four stages during 2011, making it available nationwide at the end of the year. Canada and the UK can expect to see Volts in 2012. The LEAF began shipping to the UK, Japan, and some US states in 2011. Nissan says the LEAF will be available in all 50 US states by March of 2012.

9. Smart ForTwo Electric Drive: Daimler reports that it will launch its third-generation Smart ForTwo Electric Drive to 30 markets around the world in September of 2012. This is a three-month delay for the two-seater initially planned for June 2012. Daimler claims the delay is due to quality control issues at the battery supplier Li-Tec.

8. Honda Fit EV: The Fit EV is scheduled for release in Oregon and parts of California next summer. Only a few hundred cars are expected to reach US shores during 2012, with 1,100 scheduled for production during the next three years.

7. Mitsubishi i: The updated Mitsubishi i-MiEV has been shipping in Japan and the UK for several months. The town of Normal Illinois received hundreds of i's in 2011 as part of a test program and publicity campaign. The first regularly ordered i was delivered to an owner in Hawaii in December 2011. The national-wide US rollout is scheduled for July 2012. The i is a nice addition to the available EV portfolio because at $29,125 (before state and federal incentives) it is one of the most affordable highway-capable EVs.

6. Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid: With the "Prius Goes Plural" campaign, Toyota has added the Prius V, Prius C, and (relevant to this topic) the Plug-in Prius (PIP). The Prius has a loyal following among green drivers. PIP will be the Prius with the highest MPG rating in the Prius family. This will make it the car of choice for many Prius fans, even with its price premium over the standard model. PIP will be available in 15 states in spring 2012 with nationwide availability in 2013.

Ford Focus Electric

Ford Focus Electric

5. Ford Focus Electric: Ford initially announced that these were going to start shipping in December 2011. One or two may go out the door, but any real volume won’t happen until Spring 2012. I am looking forward to seeing the EPA rated range and price information. This is the first pure EV of this era from one of the Big 3. It will be a bellwether.

4. Fisker Karma: First promised in 2009, Karma reservation holders have been repeatedly delayed. And with each delay the price ratcheted up, from an initial $80,000 price tag now to $106,000 (as of Dec. 13, 2011). There were a few token deliveries in 2011, including handing key-fobs to Leonardo DiCaprio, Al Gore and Colin Powell. 2012 should be the year for mere mortals, although you will need six figures of cash to make it happen.

3. Toyota RAV 4 EV (Redux): This vehicle is a joint effort between Toyota and Tesla. The original RAV 4 EV was a favorite among the millennium era EVs. It is scheduled for sale in mid-2012. Initially sales will be limited to California.

2. Ford C-Max Energi: The Ford C-Max Energi is a plug-in hybrid version of the Ford C-Max wagon (or compact multi-purpose vehicle, or MPV, as it is referred to in the UK). The 2013 Ford C-Max Energi is planned for launch in North America in 2012, and Europe in 2013.

1. Tesla Model S: This is the car I am most looking forward to driving. Tesla followed the tech development model with an alpha and beta phases in 2011 and production samples are now on the road. Tesla plans to build and sell 6,500 units in 2012. However, unless you are already a reservation holder, you are out of luck because 6,500 people have already put down $5,000 each to get a place in line to buy one. Deliveries are expected to start mid-2012.

There are other plug-in cars—from smaller and less proven companies—that could make it to market in 2012, most notably the Coda Electric Sedan. But Coda, as well as BYD, Zap, Zenn, and Wheego—are dark horses in the emerging market. Of course, the only thing that would be truly surprising in this tumultuous nascent industry would be a year with no surprises.

If I didn’t list the vehicle you are looking forward to, let me know in the comments below.

New to EVs? Start here

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