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A global industry: the big picture

The electric car industry is set for exponential growth over the coming years – click on the image to take a look at how the market is expected to develop. Illustration by Neil Stevens

Over the next few years, more and more electric cars are expected to be seen on our roads as consumers take advantage of government grants to promote the vehicles and cheaper models being released by manufacturers. However, this is not just a UK initiative, countries all over the world are introducing infrastructure and subsidies to promote these environmentally friendly vehicles. But what is the current state of the electric car industry and how big is it actually going to become?

Here, we take a comprehensive look at what is going on in the world of electric cars, from the models coming on to the market in 2011 to futuristic concept cars; from information about what countries taking a lead on battery-operated transport are doing, to sales targets, as predicted by the OECD and the International Energy Agency in a recent report.
Available in the UK in 2011 and 2012
Reva G-Wiz i Electric

Londoners will already be familiar with the G-Wiz, which is popular in the capital as it is exempt from the congestion charge. Its 13 kW motor gives a top speed of 50 mph and a 10 kWh battery provides a range of almost 50 miles. As a “quadricycle” it does not qualify for a government grant – but still gets the full congestion charge discount. Available now, price: from £9,995.
Smart fortwo ed

As a two-seater, the fortwo makes an ideal electric city-car. With a 30 kW motor, the fortwo is capable of 0-38 mph in 6.5 seconds and is speed limited to 62 mph. The 16 kWh lithium-ion battery takes 8 hours to slow-charge, which lasts for 80 miles. On limited lease in 2011, with full roll-out in 2012.
Renault Twizy

With its tandem-style seats and catchy looks, the two-seater Twizy “quadricycle” is something different. A 15 kW version with a top speed of 46 mph and a range of 60 miles is planned for release in the UK. Available for 2012 delivery – expected price: £7,000 plus £40 a month battery lease.
Mitsubishi i-MiEV

The i-MiEV’s 47 kW motor rear-wheel drive gives a top speed of 80 mph, and the 16 kWh lithium-ion battery provides a 90-mile range. Recharge times ranges from 7 hours using a normal domestic supply to 30 minutes to hit 80% capacity with a special rapid charging point. Price including grant: £23,990.
Peugeot iOn Electric

The iOn forms part of Peugeot’s innovative “Mu” mobility short-term rental service (membership required). While the iOn is an ideal city runabout, it can also keep up with the fastest motorway traffic. Available now on lease: £415+VAT/month including battery, servicing and warranty.
Citroen C-Zero Electric

You are likely to first experience the C-Zero in a rental setting as part of the Europcar fleet. On-board innovations include “regen braking”, which extends the drivable range. Available now on lease: £415/month including battery, servicing and warranty.
Tata Indica Vista EV

The Vista is the first EV from Indian car maker Tata – and will be built in the West Midlands. The 26 kWh of lithium-ion batteries provide a 100-plus mile range, and the 50 kW motor gives a top speed of 70mph. On trial in 2011, the Vista EV will be launched in 2012.
Renault Zoe

The Zoe is a Clio-sized car designed primarily for city use. Powered by a 60 kW (80 bhp) motor, range will be about 100 miles. Three charging options are planned: domestic charge using 13A socket (6-8 hours), rapid charge (80% in 30 minutes) or “quick-drop” (battery exchange). Available 2012 – £14,500 (after grant) plus £70 a month battery lease.
Nissan Leaf Electric

As European Car of the Year 2011, and oozing with quality, the Leaf is the first purpose-built, electric hatch. With 24 kWh of lithium-ion batteries, the Leaf has a range of about 100 miles. While most owners will charge at home overnight, a 30-minutes charge to 80% capacity is possible using a rapid charger.
Tesla Roadster Electric

With the Roadster, Tesla changed the game, and with it the fortunes for the electric car. Based on the Lotus Elise, the Roadster has the most impressive performance of any EV: 248 bhp (185 kW) motor; top speed 130 mph; 0-60 in 4 seconds; and a range of over 200 miles. Available now at £87,000.
Renault Fluence ZE

The Fluence ZE will be the largest car in Renault’s forthcoming EV range. The 70 kW motor will give an electronically-limited top speed of 84 mph, and the 22 kWh lithium-ion batteries will propel the vehicle for 100 miles. Available 2012. Expected price: £22,000, plus £70 a month battery lease.
Renault Kangoo Van ZE

The Kangoo Van ZE has the same carrying capacity and payload as the conventional Kangoo van. Its 44 kW motor and 22 kWh battery provide the ZE with a top speed of 80 mph and a 100 mile range. Available autumn 2011 – price: £16,990+VAT with £59 a month battery lease.
Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid

Following the success of the Prius hybrid, Toyota has developed a “plug-in” version, which can be recharged using electricity as well as refuelled conventionally. The 5.2 kWh lithium-ion battery provides an electric range of 12.5 miles, after which the car returns to hybrid mode.
Vauxhall Ampera

The Ampera is the first plug-in electric car of its kind – in addition to the 30-40 mile electric range provided by the 16 kWh lithium-ion battery, a small 1.4 litre petrol engine is used as an on-board generator to provide an additional 310 miles of use.
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