Electric cars show average performance for above average price

Published on Saturday, 13 July 2013 16:42 - Written by By Alex Mills President of the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers

Electric cars have been around for a long time, but they have not been able to compete with the conventional powered automobile, pickup or heavy-duty vehicles unless subsidized in some fashion.

Car and Driver magazine has an interesting article in its August issue, called “Plug-Ins Go Mainstream” that compares two plug-in hybrids, the Ford Fusion Energi Titanium and the Honda Accord Plug-in Hybrid.

The editors at the magazine rated the Ford slightly ahead of the Honda. Overall, both cars gave average performance at an above average price.

The Ford has a 141-horsepower, 2.0 liter four-cylinder internal-combustion engine coupled to a pair of AC electric motors that generate 118 horsepower. The Energi’s lithium-ion battery packs 7.6 kWh, which gives it an electric-only range of 21 miles. Overall, Energi averaged 43 miles per gallon on a full tank during their test drive.

The large batteries add about 400 pounds to each vehicle. The Ford weighs 3,986 pounds and the Honda tips the scales at 3,783 pounds.

The Honda has a slightly smaller battery that is rated at 6.7 kWh and has a range of 13 miles when using the electric motor only. Its fuel economy is a little better at 46 miles per gallon.

During a 500-mile test drive the editors said they managed to drive 14 miles before the engine fired up. The Honda also allows the driver to use “HV Charge” that charges the battery while driving.

The Ford went 19 miles on electric power before needing the hybrid engine.

Performance seems acceptable. The Ford’s top speed in a quarter mile was 86 miles per hour and the Honda came in at 88.

Price seems to be a big problem.

The Ford costs $42,285 as tested compared to $21,900 for the regular Fusion that gets 22 miles per gallon in city and 34 on the highway.

The Honda’s base price was $40,570. The regular Honda Accord LX lists for $21,680 with fuel economy at 27 in town and 36 on the highway.

Reliability of both plug-in versions is an unknown. How dependable will they be? What is the cost of repairs? How often does the battery need to be replaced? Will consumers pay the extra dollars?