All-electric cars' range claims put to the test

January 23, 2013 8:29:23 PM PST
More automakers 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, and 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 it can get the equivalent of 107 miles per gallon. The engineers compared it with other all-electric cars, including the smaller subcompact Mitsubishi i-MiEV.

"The i-MiEV is 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, our engineers thought it was more like a glorified golf cart," Consumer Reports' Rik Paul said.

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 six hours," Paul said.

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.

"Our 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," Paul said.

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

The Ford Focus electric performed well at the Consumer Reports test track. And these cars are here to stay; two more are now on the market with another three coming soon.

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