The future is finally here! Well, it's been here for a while, depending on your point of view...
We feel that there is now, finally, enough choice in the consumer market for people to consider when they want to buy a new electric car.
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Zero emissions means zero road tax, and the right electric car can provide a seamless, quiet, comfortable drive which features the most exciting, groundbreaking technology with the potential to change the whole motoring industry.
Below are the best electric cars available to buy today:
The Renault Twizy gained something of a reputation before it was released thanks to its golf-buggy-style frame. The two-seat compact car is incredibly affordable and, coming soon, a version can even be driven by 16-year-olds as the Twizy is classed as a light quadricycle.
That also means it can also be driven without a full driver's licence according to the European AM category. The Twizy can be charged with a standard three-pin plug, with a full charge taking up to three-and-a-half hours. Its 17hp motor can reach a top speed of 50mph, with the car having a range of approximately 60 miles.
A new Renault Twizy is available from £6,690.
Read MotorTorque's Renault Twizy review.
(The next three cars are based on the same build)
First released in November 2009 the four-door, four-seat Citroen C-Zero has a top speed of 80mph and an approximate range of 93 miles. The Citroen C-Zero is also able to recharge itself when decelerating, with the motor acting like a generator to use its own kinetic power to give the motor a small boost.
It's one of the pricier electric cars on the market, and the battery takes a lengthy seven hours to charge through conventional methods. It looks nice and is passenger-safe thanks to six airbags and ESP/ABS on the saloon. It's nowhere near as impressive as the Nissan Leaf or Renault Zoe for the price, though.
A new Citroen C-Zero is available from £26,216.
The Peugeot iOn, again, is a pricey option built on the same build as the Citroen C-Zero and Mitsubishi I-MiEV. Depending on your point of view though that can be balanced out in the long-term thanks to the car's low running costs and zero road tax.
It's a nice-looking model, with its best features lying in its safety and security equipment. The interior is a bit too compact though, and has a range of 93 miles on its 64bhp motor. The Peugeot iOn comes with a three-year/60,000 mile manufacturer warranty.
A new Peugeot iOn is available from £26,216.
Again, the Mitsubishi I-MiEV has a 64bhp motor and a range of 93 miles on a full charge. Road tax is free and it's built on the same platform and the C-Zero and iOn. The cabin is comfortable and quiet and running costs are incredibly low.
There's ample space for four inside and enough room in the boot for the shopping. However, without the government grant the price for the i-MiEV is similar to a BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class, which is perhaps hard to justify for an older electric model.
A new Mitsubishi i-MiEV is available from £23,990 (including £5k government grant).
Renault has put a lot of thought into the Zoe, which it champions as the 'first mass-produced zero-emissions city car'. Spearheading the manufacturer's Z.E. range, it's a very attractive compact saloon with an 88hp motor and a top speed of 84mph. Its estimated range is 130 miles.
It's also practical, with a 338-litre boot and R-Link technology. Also included are USB ports, Bluetooth, front electric windows, ABS, EBD, ESC and more. The Zoe takes a while to reach a full charge though - between six and nine hours through a standard outlet. It's one of the most affordable electric cars available.
A new Renault Zoe is available from £13,650.
The Nissan Leaf is regarded as one of the finest electric vehicles on the market, and was voted World Car of the Year 2011. Critically-acclaimed, the Nissan Leaf needs eight hours for a full charge from a domestic socket and has a maximum range of approximately 100 miles. It has a maximum speed of 90mph.
It's a fantastic urban option and costs very little to maintain and own. The Nissan Leaf is spacious enough for an average family, is great fun to drive and comes complete with a five-star Euro NCAP certificate. Easily one of the finest electric cars available.
A new Nissan Leaf is available for £25,990.
Read MotorTorque's Nissan Leaf first drive.
Renault Fluence Z.E.
The Renault Fluence Z.E. is a comfortable saloon with plenty of practical interior space for five adults. It's a great option for families to consider, and comes with a 94bhp motor capable of achieving a range of 115 miles. The car's impressive acceleration is one of the Fluence Z.E.'s strongest points.
Charging the Fluence Z.E. takes a bit longer than most others on this list, though. A full charge takes between 10-12 hours from a standard 240v home supply. Like the Nissan Leaf its refined nature and build means it's affordable to own and maintain.
A new Fluence Z.E. is available from £22,495.
Read MotorTorque's Renault Fluence Z.E. review.
The G-Wiz has been the butt of many jokes, but that hasn't stopped it becoming the best-selling electric vehicle over the last decade in the UK. The G-Wiz has a 48-mile range and a top speed of 50mph. Small, nimble and nippy, it requires 10KWs to charge fully - approximately 1.35p a mile.
An automatic rear-wheel drive, the G-Wiz is the original EV. It has something in common with a newer model though; the Renault Twizy. The G-Wiz is classed as a (heavy) quadricycle in Europe, meaning it's exempt from European safety tests. A driver's licence is still required to drive a G-Wiz.
Renault Kangoo Van Z.E.
Buyers looking for an electric van will want to consider the Renault Kangoo Z.E, which has been crowned Van of the Year 2012. It's a great option for cost-conscious businesses to consider in the long-term, especially for smaller brands that don't need to go cross-country by the day.
The Renault Kangoo Van Z.E. is also available with Renault's 4+ warranty package, which includes roadside cover, servicing and finance.
A new Renault Kangoo Van Z.E. is available from £16,990.
Is it cheating putting the Ampera in this section? Vauxhall's model qualifies for the £5k government grant and has an electric philosophy, so we'll let it slide. The Ampera comes with a petrol-powered range extender, which means the car can go for more than 300 miles combined (up to 50 on electric alone).
It's currently Car of the Year 2012 and takes a mere six hours to charge from a standard 240V socket. It looks stunning, eases range anxiety fears and is a comfortable drive. What's more it's incredibly efficient and free from road-tax, though is still a large financial commitment for the average motorist.
A new Vauxhall Ampera is available from £29,995 (with £5k government grant).
Read MotorTorque's Vauxhall Ampera first drive.
Written by John Meadowcroft