Good news for my fellow electric car enthusiasts! You actually CAN find electric cars for sale at dealerships right now (2012), such as the Nissan Leaf, the Mitsubishi 'i' (or iMiEV, same car) and the Chevy Volt.
There's no special dealership like there used to be in the past for electric cars...all you do now is go to your local Nissan, Chevy, Ford or Mitsubishi dealer and look around. (That's good, right??)
From what I've been hearing, not every Nissan dealership carries LEAFs, and not every Chevy dealership carries Volts. The dealers have to have chargers installed, and not every dealership goes to the expense and trouble to do this (depends on the market). Even if your local dealership doesn't have any electric cars for sale on the lot, they can order it for you or send you to the nearest dealership that does have their brand of electric vehicle.
So I'm going to talk a little about the electric cars currently for sale at dealerships - I'll add to the list as they become available - and we'll talk to some of my friends and family who've bought electric cars recently.
And so far the reviews are really enthusiastic!
The Chevy Volt is a plug-in hybrid from GM that they like to call a "range extended EV", just so we all don't forget that this is a Serious Hybrid and not one of those rolling power tool chargers they liked to pass off as "hybrid" during the Bush II era. The Chevy Volt's wheels are completely powered by the electric motor and lithium batteries, just like a REAL electric car. Then if the battery charge gets low, there's a gas engine that acts as a generator to recharge the batteries.
I was a little snarky when these first came out - I know, that's a real shocker - but I have to tip my hat to Chevy for coming out with the Volt. It's pretty cool. I saw one of these at a stoplight in my little coastal Oregon town last week, and I must say they're a lot smaller in person than they look in the pictures. (No comment: )
No, the Tesla Roadster is not actually made by a major automaker, but Tesla Motors is so well-known in the EV community that I guess it seems major to us: )
You CAN find these at Tesla dealerships, though, so it's kinda the same. (Sorry, I mean "stores", because dealerships are for mere cars...while "stores" are for iPhones equipped with bucket seats. My bad.)
Besides the Tesla Roadster, of course, the Nissan LEAF was the first 100% electric car since the 1990's to be produced by the major automakers and available for sale in the US.
My Uncle Chuck bought one of these just as soon as they became available; I interviewed him about his Nissan LEAF and his complete lack of range anxiety, and he told me a very interesting story about how he powers his LEAF with solar panels on his roof. A lot of LEAF owners are putting up solar panels these days! That's basically "free fuel for life", and Nissan is working to make this even easier for future LEAF owners.
The Ford electric car offering is based on their best-selling gas-sipper, the Focus. There seem to be two strategies of electric car design - either create something that stands out, looks offbeat and non traditional...
...or build something that blends right into the woodwork and is practically indistinguishable from the familiar family car. Ford went with the second option here. I like it.
The electric Ford Focus has a high degree of connectivity, which I think young people will find very cool and older people will find slightly creepy, and a lot of techno-gadget features that may or may not be necessary or desirable in a car. (Emotive display? Butterflies? Yeah.) Ford is also offering a solar charging station as an option for about 10K. How cool is that?
And Ford continued with the theme of electrifying the already popular model when they came out with the Transit Connect Electric - the electric version of their best-selling transit connect small utility van.
They put Azure Dynamics electric motors in these vans, a very familiar name to EV-ers!
The Wheego Whip looks like a Smart Car, but it's electric. It looks like an NEV, but the lithium version, the Wheego Whip LiFe, goes fast enough for the freeway. It's got air conditioning, remote keyless entry, stereo, power steering and other grown-up car features.
The Tango electric car is definitely a non-traditional looking car, and very, very cool. These are built in Spokane WA and, amazingly, are actually quicker than the Tesla Roadster with 0-60 in 3.8 seconds.
These are designed to park nose-in to the curb to save space, and they're tall and skinny to fit two, side by side, in the HOV lane. Very futuristic!
And finally, you can often find used electric cars, parts, conversions, NEVs, and discontinued electric cars for sale on Ebay. I've seen people get some very good deals at auction, and I've collected today's EV auctions for your convenience on that page.