A natural reaction to the phrase "top 10 plug-in cars" might be, "ARE there 10 plug-in cars"? Yes, when you count full electric and the hybrids that run on electric and gas, there are more than 10. How many of those models are available in your area is a different matter. With that in mind, Total Car Score assembled this list.
Plug-ins cost more than their traditional gas-powered equivalents, so the countdown to number one also takes pricing into account. The model that landed on top has the lowest price of all the cars, plus good availability. "Ultimately, the long-term future of electric-powered personal transportation will hinge on making these cars as affordable and accessible as tradition automobiles," said Karl Brauer, editor in chief of Total Car Score. (Keep in mind numerous plug-in models qualify for tax rebates.)
Another essential to plug-ins catching on is charging infrastructure. In terms of where drivers actually plug in these vehicles, they can all be charged in standard 110-volt household outlets, but those take more time than if using a separately purchased "Level 2" 240-volt charging unit.
"This means a Nissan Leaf that takes 21 hours to charge an empty battery on 110-volts would charge in approximately eight hours with a Level 2, 240-volt charge unit," Brauer explained. "These units cost around $2,000, but there are often tax rebates that will reduce their cost by half or more."
As far as public charging stations, both types of chargers are popping up (even in Brauer's home area, 50 miles outside of L.A.) but they are not as widespread as they need to be for plug-ins to really take hold. For now, here are the models that are best representing the emerging plug-in category of automobiles.
By Colleen Kane
Posted 23 Jan. 2013