As gas prices are climbing, the popularity of the electric car is on the rise. With countries like Japan, Sweden and Norway leading the way in the switch to sustainable transport - in Norway, sales of electric and hybrid vehicles accounted for over 12% of the market share last year - designs and styles are being revolutionised.
Big name companies like Audi, Tesla, Honda and Nissan have led the way with extraordinary designs cropping up on the street, in magazines and at luxury car shows. There's no question that the auto industry is dedicating big bucks and design efforts into coming up with the new generation of car: a vehicle that looks gorgeous, drives like a dream and has the added benefit of being low-emission, in response to the global move towards sustainability and green living. Luckily, in this case, the 'good' option doesn't have to be the boring option. The electric cars of tomorrow are sexy, glamorous and everything a car enthusiast would want - with the hefty price-tags to match. But you'll save on gas prices!
While we have quite a way to go before electric cars become widely accessible for the common folk (although we're getting much closer with the $10,000 Ford Focus Electric) we can, for now, aspire to these futuristic vehicles. As we're waiting for the prices to drop, electric car charging stations and infrastructure is springing up throughout North America and worldwide - meaning a transition to an electric vehicle will be that much smoother in a few years. The Canadian and US governments have invested significant funds for municipal grants that have seen electric cars trickle into staff transportation, with public parking stalls and charging stations popping up everywhere from grocery store lots to private home garages.
Of course, for now, the likelihood of seeing one of the following seriously high-end electric cars at your local Walmart is slim. These are five of the most expensive electric cars - in varying stages of development today - that prove green living doesn't need to be frugal or frumpy.
5 The Lightning GT - $300,000
This is the first foray into the electric car field for British-based Lightning Car Company. It's still incredibly exclusive - only 50 will be produced as of the end of this year and next. This handcrafted masterpiece blends the timeless grace of British sports car design with a super-strong aluminum composite structure and a cutting edge all-electric drive-train. This car is right behind the Benz SLS, with speeds of up to 130 miles per hour. Its sleek, curved design lends chic sophistication to the carbon fibre bodywork and honeycomb aluminum chassis.
The company is proud of the car's British heritage; many of the parts have been created and sourced locally. The compact vehicle is also going after a special title in the electric car world, as one of only two to use lithium-titanate battery technology. This turbo feature allows the battery to charge in minutes and has already proven itself in US military applications.
4 Mercedes Benz SLS AMG Electric Drive - $550,000
This limited edition electric car from one of the world's favourite high end auto manufacturer offers four electric motors that can boost this premier roadster to speeds of 155 mph, attaining 62 mph in under 3.9 seconds. With a massive 740 horsepower and 737 lb-ft of torque, this is gunning to be the most powerful electric car on the market. The battery weighs in at just over 1,200 pounds with 60 kWh, and a range of about 150 miles before needing a charge. At the moment, while still in production, Mercedes-Benz is working to cut the charge time down from its current 20 hours with a regular electric car charger - the company has plans to develop a quicker charge option.
To counteract the heavy batteries, a full carbon fiber monocoque helps to achieve this company's commitment to high-standard performance. In comparison to its gasoline counterparts, the vehicle is being promoted as boasting better handling thanks in part to the four motors mounted on each wheel with an axially-arranged transmission design that helps control the torque. A vibrant blue body and powertrain means this vehicles feels and drives like something you might see in a superhero flick. The car will go to market in Europe in 2015, and it promises to be worth every dollar of those half million.
3 Rimac Concept 1 - $980,000
This is the world's first electric hyper car, developed by Croatian automotive company Rimac Automobili. It's a two seater sports car with a curved, clean-lined design and 1088 horsepower with "all wheel torque vectoring" that gets its driver from 0 to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds. This little spitfire boasts a 92 kWh battery and offers a 370 mile range before needing a plug-in. It's considered the fastest accelerating electric automobile of the moment, and it has the ability to switch power from front-wheel drive to rear-wheel drive - another first for the electric.
Former Pininfarina designers customized the interior, alongside leather specialists, to create a signature and exclusive ride. With only 88 in production, after five years in design, the car is priced at a cool $1 million and is the official Race Director's car for the 2014 Formula E season.
2 Mercedes-Benz SLS Electric Gullwing E-Cell - $1 million
As the first fully electric supercar, this badass canary-yellow roadster routes power to four motors -one at each wheel - for 526 horsepower with 649 lb-ft of torque. The result elevates it into the league of extraordinary automobiles, as one of the new electric supercars of the future. Capabilities include its speed; sprinting to 62 mph in under four seconds. This is especially impressive when you consider the car weighs in at almost 4,500 pounds.
The futuristic aesthetic of the center console is also exclusive to the E-Cell, with a modern touch screen display. With the car still in production, AMG is hoping to outfit the car with a 60+ kWh battery pack, up from its current 48 kWh lithium-ion battery. The car company also intends to up the battery power range from 90 miles to 130.
1 Rolls Royce Phantom 102EX Electric Car - $1.6 million
Still considered an "experimental" car this Rolls, with the clear light-up hood ornament, is designed with high-end luxury in mind as well as sustainable features. Although it was created as a green alternative to the gas-guzzling Phantom, it's being shelved since it's unveiling in 2011 at the Geneva Motor Show due to some major performance kinks that still need to worked out.
The main issue is its weight, coming in several hundred pounds heavier than the Phantom. It's also in need of some efficiency tweaks - with a 290 kW lithium ion battery and two rear electric motors, the driving range is just over 100 miles before it's in need of an 8 hour charge-up. If these minor technicalities can be hammered out, there's no doubt the old-world glamour-meets-new school cool will surely become a persuasive purchase for sustainable-minded high rollers.
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