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Affordable electric cars no longer pipedreams

The world has a serious demand for environmentally friendly vehicles,and the automotive market is poised for an electric revolution.

The world has a serious demand for environmentally friendly vehicles, and the automotive market is poised for an electric revolution. The latest wave of electric vehicles that were once only auto show pipedreams are now only a few months away from general consumption.

Many manufacturers currently have plans for new electric vehicles in the not-so-distant future, but Ford, General Motors and Nissan seem to be the closest to reality.

One of Ford’s projects has a Canadian bent: Magna International, the Aurora, Ont.-based parts maker, is co-developing what’s now been revealed as a battery-electric version of the next-generation Focus, due to arrive in 2011. However, it will be beaten to showrooms by Ford’s other battery electric vehicle (BEV), an electrified version of the new Transit Connect small cargo van in 2010.

“We’re changing from a company focused mainly on trucks and SUVs to a company with a balanced product lineup that includes even more high-quality, fuel-efficient small cars, hybrids and all-electric vehicles,” said Mark Fields, Ford’s president of the Americas. “As customers move to more fuel-efficient vehicles, we’ll be there with more of the products they really want.”

General Motors knows that its plug-in hybrid, the upcoming Chevrolet Volt, has attracted plenty of attention. Even Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty stood beside a pre-production model during his recent announcement of a $10,000 government rebate on range-extended hybrids and battery electric vehicles.

However, to everyone’s surprise, GM announced another vehicle that will take advantage of the Volt’s costly powertrain ... and it’s a Buick.

Announced late last week, the as-yet-unnamed small Buick crossover will be plug-in ready in 2011. The lithium-ion battery will fully recharge in four to five hours by simply connecting the vehicle to any standard household electrical outlet.

“Buick has always been at the forefront of new technology, so it is only fitting that the brand should debut our new plug-in hybrid technology in a beautiful new crossover,” said Tom Stephens, GM vice chairman of product development. “This will firmly put Buick, and GM, front and centre in the advanced technology game.”

Finally, Nissan shocked the world earlier this month when it announced its new battery-electric LEAF.

The company calls LEAF the world’s first affordable, zero-emission car. Designed as a five-seat hatchback, the LEAF uses lithium-ion batteries and promises to travel more than 160 km on a charge.

According to Nissan Canada, the BEVs will be on the roads in Canada in 2012.

 
 
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