With the ever growing clamor for the use of sustainable energy in order to help save our environment, the use of electric cars have slowly but surely gained traction and acceptance in modern society. In some advanced countries, there are actually already public charging stations strategically located right in the middle of some streets that would allow an electric car to recharge.
Electric vehicles have been around since the middle part of the 1800s. Robert Davidson of Scotland was able to build an electric locomotive as early as 1838 that reached a speed of only about 4 miles per hour. Another Scotsman, Robert Anderson, was also able to invent the first crude electric carriage around that time.
There are three main types of electric vehicles, namely (a) those directly powered from an external power station, (b) those powered by stored electricity originally from an external power source, and (c) those powered by an on board electrical generator. The last one is commonly called a hybrid electrical vehicle. It combines a conventional internal combustion engine propulsion system with an electric propulsion system.
The first hybrid of gasoline and electricity was a Porsche, specifically the Lohner Porsche Mixte Hybrid. Ferdinand Porsche developed it in 1901. Widespread availability of electric cars did not come, however, until 1997 when Toyota released the Prius in Japan. A couple of years later, Honda came up with the Insight. At first, acceptance was low because of the then low price of gasoline. Increases since that time, as well as the increasing awareness of consumers regarding a vehicle’s effect on an environment, led to more releases in the 2000s. Electric cars have since gone a long way and are now considered constituting a major segment of the industry in the coming years.
The following is a list of the top ten most popular electric cars in the market,
1. Toyota Prius Hybrid – 1,267,166 units sold
The Prius is considered to be the first mass-produced hybrid vehicle. It was introduced to the market in 1997 at Toyota’s Japanese dealerships. It is now sold in 80 countries, with the largest markets in Japan and the United States. It started out as a compact sedan before Toyota redesigned it to become a medium sized hatchback vehicle. It has been rated to be among the cleanest cars sold in the U.S. based on emissions that could potentially form smog.
2. Honda Civic Hybrid – 214,877 units sold
This is the hybrid power train version of Honda’s similarly named Civic sedan. It was first sold in Japan in 2001 with a five-speed manual transmission. In 2005, this was changed to a continuously variable automatic transmission. A hatchback version has been recently added to the sedan type. It is the first hybrid vehicle to be certified by the Air Resources Board of California to be an Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle, or AT-PZEV.
3. Toyota Camry Hybrid – 213,096 units sold
The Camry hybrid was introduced in 2006. It can run in a fully electric mode, gasoline only mode, or a combination of the two. It features an electric power steering, brakes and air conditioning that can all be fully operated upon deactivation of the internal combustion engine. Tail lights have been redesigned with LEDs and aerodynamic drag has been reduced.
4. Ford Escape/Mercury Mariner Hybrid – 130,691 units sold
The hybrid version of this compact crossover sports utility vehicle, or SUV, was launched in the Ford Escape in 2004, and in the Mercury Mariner in 2006. It is considered to be the most fuel efficient SUV in the market, averaging 34 miles for every gallon.
5. Lexus RX 400h/450h – 122,493 units sold
The Lexus RX hybrid has a fuel economy rating of 32 miles per gallon for highway driving, and 30 miles per gallon for city driving, meaning it can go up to ten more miles compared to the non-hybrid version of the vehicle. It produces 245 horsepower at 6,000 rpm. The electric motors and inverter can boost this to up to 297 horsepower. Its engine has a low compression ratio, along with a high expansion ratio inside the engine’s cylinders.
6. Toyota Highlander Hybrid – 118,440 units sold
This is the first hybrid vehicle with seven seats. It is based on Toyota’s non-hybrid SUV called the Kluger, though the power steering pump, water pump and air conditioning compressor were all changed from being driven by belts to being powered by electricity. The vehicle’s system is similar to the Lexus RX 400h.
7. Honda Insight Hybrid – 75,802 units sold
Often ranged against the Prius because they were the first two hybrid vehicles to come out in the late 1990s, the Insight features superior handling, steering, braking and paddle-shift transmission. It can go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in just 10.3 seconds, and it has a fuel efficiency rating of 38 miles per gallon.
8. Ford Fusion/Mercury Milan/Lincoln MKZ Hybrid – 70,536 units sold
It has been awarded as the North American Car of the Year at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in 2010. Its fuel efficiency rating is 47 miles per gallon for combined city and highway driving. All three share the same hybrid power train, making the Fusion, Milan and MKZ hybrid triplets.
9. Hyundai Sonata/Kia Optima Hybrid – 43,460 units sold
This car features a 2.4-liter engine with six-speed automatic transmission, 30 kw electric motor and lithium polymer batteries. Fuel efficiency ratings are 37 miles per gallon for city driving and 40 miles per gallon for highway driving. The car is based on Hyundai’s Blue Drive concept. In recent months, the sales of this vehicle have actually surpassed all the other electric cars except for the Prius.
10. Nissan Altima Hybrid – 36,609 units sold
This is the first hybrid car from Nissan. Its system is licensed from the hybrid technology of Toyota, though upcoming models will be developed in house. It produces 158 horsepower, which can be boosted a further 40 horsepower by the electric motor. It is considered to be one of the seven fastest hybrids, going from 0 to 60 miles per hour in just 7.1 seconds.
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