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10 electric cars you can buy in 2011

Not so long ago, electric vehicles were woeful. They were fringe models sometimes with no back seat, a short driving range or no amenities, or they were exorbitantly expensive converted gasoline-powered cars.

The idea of visiting a nearby car showroom to buy an electric car from a car company that might still be in business a year down the road was unheard of, until now. The first modern, mainstream electric vehicles are coming to market in 2011. Here are some of the options that will really, truly be available to car shoppers in most areas of the country in the next year ahead.

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Nissan Leaf
KAZUHIRO NOGI / AFP – Getty Images

The battery-electric Nissan Leaf is hitting dealers in limited regions now, with a nationwide rollout to come in 2011. Nissan has invested in battery manufacturing plants with the expectation of selling a half-million electric cars a year worldwide. That will mean a proliferation of Nissan and Infiniti electrics in varying sizes and shapes to suit customers #

Nissan Leaf
KAZUHIRO NOGI / AFP – Getty Images

The battery-electric Nissan Leaf is hitting dealers in limited regions now, with a nationwide rollout to come in 2011. Nissan has invested in battery manufacturing plants with the expectation of selling a half-million electric cars a year worldwide. That will mean a proliferation of Nissan and Infiniti electrics in varying sizes and shapes to suit customers who might not want a funky-looking subcompact like the Leaf. The Leaf starts at $32,780 before any tax credits.
who might not want a funky-looking subcompact like the Leaf. The Leaf starts at $32,780 before any tax credits.

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Ford Focus Electric
Ford / Wieck

The Focus has been a popular compact model in recent years. So when an electric version arrives in Ford showrooms toward the end of the year consumers will already be familiar with the Focus name and driving experience, but they will have the option of enjoying that sans gasoline. A 23 kilowatt-hour battery pack should give the Focus about the same driving range as the Nissan Leaf, but in a more spacious, mainstream model.

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Ford Transit Connect
Ford / Wieck

For even more space, electric car intenders can opt for the Transit Connect Electric minivan. This vehicle is aimed at commercial customers who make delivery runs over a pre-defined distance before returning to a base to recharge, but with an 80-mile range the Transit Connect could also do soccer mom carpool duty. But you can probably forget using it for the holiday drive to Grandma’s house or a summer vacation trip unless those destinations are nearby. Ford has already started delivering electric Transits to fleet customers, but retail pricing still isn’t available.

Mitsubishi I-MiEV
STAN HONDA / AFP/Getty Images

Mitsubishi “electrified” one of its tiny Japanese domestic market “kei” segment minicars, but found that global customers found it too claustrophobic. So in late 2011 the company will launch a version that is four inches wider, allowing the I-MiEV to feel more like a real car and a bit less like a Smart ForTwo that’s been stretched to seat four people. This car will cost less than $30,000 before any tax incentives, so it could be the least expensive battery electric on the market.

Others are: Honda Fit EV, Tesla Roadster, Fisker Karma, Think and Gem.
Read more msn.com

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