With gas prices creeping ever higher, it's only a matter of time before the next car you pull into your driveway is powered by a hyper-efficient electric motor rather than a petrol-slurping, exhaust-spewing internal combustion engine. But automakers understand that drivers don't want to putter down the highway in the automotive equivalent of a two-ton golf cart. That's why companies such as Honda, Ford and Tesla are rolling out electric rides that are not only easier on the eyes butare chock-full of the latest tech. We're talking amenities like Android and iOS apps that let you schedule charge times for your car's battery and integration with services like Pandora and MovieTickets.com.
Here's our top 10 teched-out electric cars.
Honda Fit EV ($36,625)
Set to hit the streets this summer, the Fit EV is the latest electric car to roll off of Honda's assembly line. Strapped with a 20 kWh lithium-ion battery, the Fit EV lasts up to 128 miles on a single charge. And with the free HondaLink app, you can monitor the Fit's charge state, schedule charging sessions, determine your current range and even cool the cabin from your iPhone or Android device. The FIT EV features a navigation system that offers information on nearby charging stations as standard equipment and includes voice recognition and a rear-facing camera. Charging takes just 3 hours with a 240-volt charger or 15 hours on a household 120-volt circuit.
Ford Focus Electric ($39,200)
Ford says the Focus Electric is the most fuel efficient five-passenger car in America with up to 105 mpg-e. Its 23 kWh lithium ion battery is good for 76 miles (100 miles if you're easy on the accelerator) and can fully charge in 4 hours using a 240-volt charging station. To help you monitor the Focus' battery, Ford offers the MyFord Mobile app, from which you can schedule charging times based on electricity rates, find the closest charging stations and reserve a charging spot. The MyFord Touch telematics system and SmartGuage with EcoGuide provide you with constant updates on your Focus' battery life and even help teach you how to squeeze the most out of every charge.
Chevy Volt ($31,645)
Chevy's Volt features a 7-inch touchscreen from which you can monitor the charge of its 16 kWh battery and energy usage, as well as your overall driving efficiency. Chevy offers Volt drivers two different apps. OnStar RemoteLink allows you to schedule charges, view your battery level, receive alerts when the battery is full and pre-cool or heat the cabin. The MyLink app allows you to connect your smartphone to the Volt's infotainment system and offers integration with Pandora, Stitcher and Gracenote. The Volt differs from most electric cars because in addition to its electric motor and battery, it includes a gas-powered engine. The Volt can run on battery power alone for up to 35 miles, at which point the engine kicks in and provides power for the car's electric motor, giving it enough range to last 375 miles.
Nissan Leaf ($35,200)
With a 24 kWh lithium-ion battery that offers a range of 73 miles, Nissan Leaf drivers will have no problem getting where they need to go. The Leaf's 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system offers full smartphone integration. The Leaf app, which is available for iOS, Android and BlackBerry smartphones, allows you to start charging the Leaf's battery remotely, estimate your driving range and activate the vehicle's climate control system. Unfortunately, the app requires users to subscribe to Nissan's Carwings service, which is only free for the first 36 months you own the vehicle.
Toyota RAV4 EV ($50,610)
Toyota's newly announced RAV4 EV combines the body of an SUV with the techno-wizardry of an electric car. Inside, the RAV4 EV sports an 8-inch touchscreen complete with smartphone integration. Toyota also throws in its Entune service which offers users the ability to access apps such as Bin, iHeartRadio, Pandora and MovieTickets.com. The RAV4 EV includes a 41.8 kWh battery developed by Tesla Motors that, when combined the SUV's electric powertrain, can make 154 hp and can reach 100 mph. Despite the battery's large capacity, Toyota says it can charge in 6 hours with the help of 240-volt charger.
Tesla Model S ($49,900)
Tesla's Model S is a purpose built electric car that promises the kind of power and range found only in a standard gas-powered vehicle. It can be equipped with an 85 kWh battery capable of reaching 60 mph in 4.4 seconds with a top speed of 130 mph. And while its power may be impressive, it's 17-inch touchscreen is downright mind-blowing. Tesla has taken the steps needed to make the Model S a truly connected vehicle by including a built-in 3G data connection. That means users can surf the web from the car's 17-inch infotainment system (while stopped of course). A smartphone app allows you to check in on your Tesla's battery life, charge status and real-time location data. You can also cool or heat the car's cabin from the app.
Mercedes Benz SLS AMG E-Cell (Price Unavailable)
Mercedes has decided to convert its venerable SLS AMG supercar--replete with gull-wing doors--into an all-electric missile. Like its gas-powered sibling, the E-Cell has a jaw-dropping amount of power. This environmentally-friendly beast produces 526 hp and 649 ft.-lb. of torque and can go from 0 to 60 mph in 4 seconds. The four electric motors help the E-Cell speedometer reach a blistering 155 mph. It gets even better on the inside. Current prototypes of the SLS AMG E-Cell feature a huge 10-inch touchscreen that allows drivers to control everything from the audio system to the heater and air conditioning. Better still, drivers can monitor the power output from each of the E-Cell's four electric motors from the comfort of the driver's seat via the touchscreen. Here's hoping the Mercedes chooses to include its mBrace 2 system in the E-Cell, as well.
BMW Active E ($2,500 down, $499 a month for two years)
BMW is working on several electric cars, but the one that's closest to becoming a reality is the ActiveE. The car, which is built on a modified version of the company's 1 Series, features a 32 kWh battery that takes 4 to 5 hours to charge on a 240 volt charger. BMW has integrated a battery monitor in its iDrive telematics system that allows drivers to see how much of the battery's power they are using and how much they are recuperating through the car's braking system. The company has also added ActiveE specific features to its ConnectedDrive iPhone and iPad apps, allowing you to remotely check in your battery's charge state, as well as lock and unlock your doors, activate the horn and headlights. You can also locate your vehicle in a large parking lot and pinpoint the Active E's location within a 1,000-meter radius using the CarFinder feature.
Fisker Karma ($96,000)
Underneath the Karma's taught, muscular sheet metal design is a 20.1 kWh lithium-ion battery and two electric motors capable of making 959 ft.-lb of torque. This luxury sports car can hit 60 mph in 6.3 seconds and max out at 125 mph. Like the Chevy Volt, the Karma uses a gas-powered engine to extend the vehicle's range. On the inside the Karma features a 10.2-inch touchscreen with haptic feedback and allows for smartphone integration via USB or Bluetooth. Navigation is offered by way of voice activated turn-by-turn directions.
Like Tesla and Fisker, Coda is a company devoted solely to developing electric vehicles. The company's first effort features a 31 kWh battery that is good for 134-horsepower ad 125 miles of travel on a single charge. Inside, the Coda gets a 7-inch touchscreen complete with an Alpine sound system. Smartphone integration allows drivers to connect their Android or iOS device and stream music from Pandora and other Internet radio apps through the car's speaker system.