Are electric vehicles REAL cars?

Chris Carnevale | September 19, 2013 | Clean Transportation, Electric Vehicles
SACE's Nissan LEAF
Pictured here is SACE's Nissan LEAF--one of the many electric vehicles available today.

This blog is part of a series on electric vehicles. Other blogs in this series include: “Ecotality Blinks Out, But EVs Still Going,” ” Electric Vehicle Range – Problem Solved,” and more yet to come. Anne Blair, our Clean Fuels Director, contributed to this post. Please follow her at the EV & Hybrid Technology conference on Twitter this week (@cleanenergy4u).

Are electric vehicles real cars? Are they powerful, flexible, and reliable enough to meet drivers’ needs? These questions need answering before people feel comfortable giving up trusty gasoline-fired engines.

I have to admit, I was a skeptic of electric vehicles until I actually drove one. Given that the only electric vehicles I was acquainted with were golf carts, I always thought that electric vehicles would compromise power and speed. But I was wrong. Within a minute of my first time driving SACE’s company car, our Nissan LEAF, I felt power and responsiveness that I thought would have only come with a high-dollar sports car. I had “the EV grin” as I accelerated on the highway on-ramp.

I believe my skepticism is widespread, so in an attempt to dispel the myth that “it’s gotta be loud to have power,” I want to share a few reasons why electric vehicles are indeed real vehicles. Fortunately, there is plenty of information to address these concerns.  If you scroll down, you’ll also find some revealing YouTube videos that I think illustrate my point better than my words could. The video titles alone are almost good enough to prove the point, but please watch and share with your friends. I enjoyed these greatly and I hope you do too.

Reasons Why Electric Vehicles are Real Vehicles

  • They’re versatile. Electric vehicles aren’t just commuter cars. There are also electric heavy duty trucks and buses built for utility. Toyota just released the first all electric SUV, the RAV4 EV. BMW just announced that they are planning a plug-in hybrid electric X5 SUV and Nissan has plans for an electric SUV as well.
  • They’re powerful. Electric vehicles can give maximum torque from a stand still. This means that when you push the pedal to the metal from a stop, you’re getting as much torque as you would at a much higher speed. In conventional combustion engines, you only achieve maximum torque after reaching a higher RPM. Car and Driver Magazine says this about the effect (in a Tesla Model S review): “When you floor the accelerator on a conventional car, the airflow has to increase, the turbos must spool up, and the transmission unlocks its torque converter and usually downshifts. In the Model S, you’re shoved into your seat right now, with an immediacy that no Corvette, Ferrari, or Porsche can match.”
    Nissan LEAF Sales Chart
  • They’re popular. It’s not just geeks and environmentalists that love electric vehicles. Long-time auto enthusiasts, such as GM’s Bob Lutz (who is also a global warming skeptic), have championed the cause of electric cars. The Tesla Model S was named the 2013 best car of year by Automobile Magazine and Motor Trend Magazine; Consumer Reports called it the best car it has ever tested; all while achieving a perfect safety score. In terms of sales, the Nissan LEAF and Model S have outpaced many of their “real car” (i.e. gas-powered) counterparts.
  • They’re fast. How does going 0 – 60 in 0.8 seconds sound? The KillaCycle all electric motorcycle can do it. The White Zombie, a 1972 Datsun 1200 converted to electric, routinely beats Vipers, Corvettes, Camaros and other muscle cars at the track. Even the Tesla Model S, which is a sport-luxury sedan with seating for 7 people and plenty of cargo room, boasts an impressive 0 – 60 time of 4.2 seconds (with the P85 battery), and is also capable of taking on top muscle cars at the track.

The best proof, though, is the experience itself. Whether you’re totally sold, on the fence, or unconvinced, why not go test drive and electric vehicle to see for yourself. National Plug In Day on September 28 – 29 is the perfect opportunity. The Plug In 2013 Conference is also being held this month in San Diego on Sept. 30 – Oct. 3.

World’s Fastest Street Legal Electric Car

Watch a Tesla Model S Smoke a 2005 Dodge Viper SRT10 at the Drag Strip

The Tesla Model S is Consumer Reports’ Best Ever Tested Car

Electric Motorcycle Goes Quarter Mile, Tops 201 MPH in Less than 7 Seconds

Chris Carnevale
Chris is SACE’s Climate Advocacy Director. Chris joined the SACE staff in 2011 to help with building public understanding and engagement around clean energy solutions to the climate crisis. Chris…
My Profile