You've heard the announcements. You know the specs. You may even be able to guess how the showdown will play out. But unless you were in San Jose, California, this week for Plug-In 2010, you've probably never seen six contenders for our future electric vehicle dollars all in one room. We hopped in our late-80s gas guzzler and hit the show floor in your stead, snapping enough pictures of the Leaf, Volt, Focus, Prius PHEV, fortwo Electric Drive, and the i MiEV to give you a virtual tour. See what we saw after the break.
for the Chevy Volt was certainly big news at the show, but the rest is old hat at this point; click through to the gallery for some additional pics of the design and the portable 120V charger, but for the rest you'd best refer to our test drive
. $41,000 (or $350 a month to lease) buys you a PHEV that can travel 40 miles on battery alone.
Smart fortwo electric drive (cabriolet)
We'd long heard
that Smart would bring its Tesla-powered fortwo
to the States, but we've never been quite sure when it would arrive, so it's most pleasing to hear October will see the launch of Daimler's miniature electric drive. 250 vehicles will be available for four-year lease at the surprisingly steep price of $599 a month, allowing consumers the chance to enjoy the electric vehicle's 83-mile range (and curse the 60 MPH top speed) well before a planned 2012 general release.
Toyota's plug-in Prius Hybrid
Toyota's plug-in Prius
was on display at Plug-In 2010, but we also came across a special treat -- a presentation by the company's Monique Richard that explains just how the extra-electrified version works. Sadly, the car won't arrive till 2011, we still have no word on price, and the 150 units destined for the US have been completely spoken for. However, we were told the vehicle now has an estimated 13 mile all-electric range, plus a slightly different GPS, and -- because batteries take up the spare tire spot -- the car will ship with run-flats.
The Nissan Leaf
was front and center at Plug-In 2010, and it wasn't hard to see why -- the automaker obviously invested quite a bit in the booth, and far more in the vehicle's lovely modern design. See it inside and out, then read what a Leaf is like to drive
Ford Focus Electric
This Ford Focus Electric
was just passing the time at Coulomb's booth
, with nary a Ford representative in sight; when we tried to peek inside, we were shushed away before we could tell if the floor model held a MyFord touchscreen
Mitsubishi i MiEV
Mitsubishi's poor i-MiEV
, meanwhile, never seems to get a break -- once destined
to cruise the sunkissed California coast, these days the poor creature gets relegated to vehicular charging tests (like those conducted by Eaton, who showcased a 30-minute rapid EV charger at the event) or Tokyo taxi service
. Though we've heard a US production version may still appear this year or next, the two at Eaton's booth were most definitely still right-hand drive.