A new car looms in my future. My current ride has over 200,000 miles on it. While it’s still going strong, there’s no escaping the fact it probably won’t make it to 300,000. Normally, I’d just go out and get another full-size model. But with innovation going like gangbusters in the zero-emissions, alternative fuel, small neighborhood car space, I’m thinking I might try a new strategy: Buy something small and cute (and easy to park — a big plus in crowded cities) for everyday driving, and use a rental or car share service for bigger trips.
Below are some of the electric car contenders I’m keeping an eye on. None of them are on the market in the United States today. But with all the activity in this space, some of them just might be for sale by the time my current car conks out.
You’ve probably seen the Peapod’s predecessors tooling around city parks (in the worker truck model) or retirement communities (in the golf-cart-on-steroids model). But Chrysler is planning to launch a fully enclosed, city-ready model this year, that can go up to 30 miles at 25 mph on an eight-hour charge. Granted, that’s not very far very fast, but for making a grocery run, picking up the dry cleaning, and heading to the gym? Could be just the thing. Greenecomobility.com
Originally created in India by the REVA car company, the G-Wiz i is all over London. It can get up to 50 mph and go about 50 miles on a full charge, which takes eight hours (but you can get 80% of the juice in just two-and-a-half). My favorite part? The electric cord running from your house to the car’s battery (like in this photo). The neighbors are going to be green with envy (or inspired to move in the same direction?), once gas gets back to $4 a gallon! goingreen.co.uk
BMW seems committed to putting an all-electric version of the popular Mini Cooper on the market. It’s in the process of running a year-long pilot program in which 500 drivers from the Los Angeles and New York/New Jersey areas are leasing one of the all-electric models and providing feedback to the company. The test model can go up to 156 miles on a charge and reach top speeds of 95 mph. But BMW still has questions about the long-term endurance of its batteries, hence the field test.Miniusa.com/minie-usa
Goofy looking, yes. But cutting edge? Absolutely. Leapfrogging the electric battery altogether, the AIRPod, by Luxumbourg-based MDI, runs on compressed air. Top speed is 40 mph, but it can supposedly go up to 130 miles on a full load of air. And gamers out there will have a head start in driving the car, which is controlled by joystick rather than conventional steering wheel. It is supposed to go on the market in Europe and New Zealand this year and hit the U.S. market in 2011. mdi.lu