It looks like a Mini Cooper, drives like a peppy Toyota Corolla and sips gasoline like... well, actually, it doesn't.
Of course I'm talking about the City by Think—one of the few 100 percent electric cars available to consumers. And it's on display through the weekend at the Maryland State Fairgrounds at the Solar and Wind Expo.
The City is currently the most affordable all-electric car on the market, tagged at $22,500. However, dealers are touting a Federal income tax credit that knocks the price down to a mere $15,000. The City's closest competitor is the recently released Nissan Leaf, which starts at $27,700 before the applicable income tax credit.
I spoke with representatives from the Randallstown-based Eurostar Automative Group who went into the nitty-gritty about the zippy two-seater.
They were even kind enough to let me test drive it around the fairgrounds parking lot. (See video)
I don't have much of a pedigree in reviewing cars to be the final say in purchasing one of these bad boys, but I do know this—it's a fun drive.
At 70 to 100 miles per charge, this compact City car is no slouch in the lower gears. It's responsive in the low end and quiet throughout acceleration. Cabin noise is non-existence.
I was perhaps most impressed (and you'll notice this in the video) by the tightly tuned suspension. There is little to no body roll even when accelerating through a turn. It's also pretty rugged, tested for the harsh Norwegian winters from wence it came.
While I'm perfectly content sticking with my all-wheel drive 5-speed, I couldn't help but feel compelled to do the math surrounding this sporty energy saver.
I was told that to charge the car at home it would cost approximately $2.85. One charge could push up to 100 miles (70 if you're doing mostly highway driving). So if you maxed out this car every day for month—driving 100 miles—and recharging it at night, the City would run you about $85.50 for 3,000 miles.
Let's compare that to a car that gets 30 miles per gallon, with a 12 gallon tank. That seems fair and in the middle for most modern-day cars. If you were to drive the same 3,000 miles in a month, you would go through 8.3 fill-ups. At the average cost of $3.684 (in Maryland) for a gallon of petrol, it would cost you $366.94, with an average fill-up of $44.21.
Now, keep in mind, that this figure is only about fuel economy. A lot of these eCars, or "EVs", are basically still in beta mode. There are, and most of the time I can assure you, glitches. You'll have to pester the folks at the expo to get a more detailed handle of what you're getting into.
I will say that as the industry grows, the technology behind these cars grows with it. I spoke with MotorWeek creator and producer John Davis who mentioned that established automakers like Audi and BMW plan to introduce 100 percent electric vehicles in the near future.
The car I drove is a 2011 model. The maker, Think, was rescued from the brink of bankruptcy in 2009 and now plans on releasing a new line of cars in 2013, according to Eurostar Automative.
It's not the most flashy car on the market. Far from it, in fact. It's comfortable, and I would recommend this car for city couples with no children because instead of a back seat, you get 22 cubic feet of cargo room.
Electric cars are the focus of the 2012 Solar and Wind Expo and I encourage you to check it out. For $12 ($25 for a weekend pass), you can learn about solar power, electric vehicles, and other renewable forms of energy that in the long run save you money and more importantly, in my opinion, help save the planet.
Can you really get mad at somebody for trying to sell you a car that keeps you away from the gas pumps?