5. 2013 Prius Plug-in
> Make: Toyota
> Price: $32,000
> Fuel efficiency: 95 MPG equivalent (electric), 50 MPG (gas)
> 2012 U.S. sales: 12,514
Introduced in Japan in 1997 and in the rest of the world in 2000, the Prius was the first mass-produced hybrid. It has also been by far the most successful. Several different models are now sold under the Prius brand, including the Prius, the Prius C, the Prius V, and the Prius Plug-in. On a full charge, which takes about three hours on a standard home outlet, the Plug-in can travel for roughly 11 miles in electric mode, getting an equivelent of 95 MPG. It then switches to hybrid mode, for which it is rated at a not-too-shabby 50 MPG. Another plus is that in some states the car qualifies for single-occupant carpool lanes.
4. 2013 Volt
> Make: Chevrolet
> Price: $31,645
> Fuel efficiency: 98 MPG equivalent (electric), 37 MPG (gas)
> 2012 U.S. sales: 22,823
The Chevrolet Volt was introduced to the world in 2008, when then General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner called the car a symbol of the company’s “commitment to the future.” At its release in late 2010, it became one of the first plug-in hybrid cars to hit the road. But not everything has gone smoothly for GM. In 2011, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigated concerns that the Volt’s battery might be susceptible to fire. This may have harmed the car’s reputation despite the investigation closing with the NHTSA determining that the Volt was not at greater risk of a battery fire than other cars. Sales of the Volt were mediocre in 2011 — the car’s first full year of sales — when just under 7,500 units were sold. However, sales tripled in 2012 to more than 22,800 vehicles sold.
3. 2013 Focus Electric
> Make: Ford
> Price: $39,200
> Fuel efficiency: 105 MPG equivalent
> 2012 U.S. sales: 675
The Ford Focus Electric, a fully electric vehicle with a liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery system, gets an estimated equivalent of 105 combined MPG. The cost differential might be a bit much for some buyers, as the standard Focus S sedan has a base price of $16,200, while the Electric’s price tag is just short of $40,000. In a review of the 2013 Electric, Edmunds noted, “the well-rounded, well-built 2013 Ford Focus stands as one of the top choices in an increasingly competitive segment.”
2. 2013 Model S
> Make: Tesla
> Price: $62,400
> Fuel efficiency: 89 MPG equivalent
> 2012 U.S. sales: 2,052
The Tesla Model S is not cheap, with even the lowest-end model costing $62,400 after the $7,500 tax credit buyers receive. However, few cars have been as celebrated as the Model S., which was unanimously voted Motor Trends’ 2013 Car of the Year. But the Model S became subject to controversy when a New York Times reporter noted in his review that the car ran out of battery during his drive. Tesla CEO Elon Musk then accused the reviewer of intentionally trying to flunk the car on his test. The controversy did not prevent Tesla from turning its first profit in its most recent quarter.
1. 2013 Leaf
> Make: Nissan
> Price: $21,300
> Fuel efficiency: 116 MPG equivalent
> 2012 U.S. sales: 9,512
Since it first debuted in December, 2010, sales of the first zero-emissions have been improving. March was likely the best month for sales in the model’s history. In 2012, sales of the leaf were up by approximately 5%. According to the Detroit News, despite the positive signs, sales growth has not been what Nissan had hoped for, as Nissan hoped to double 2011 sales in 2012. In January company CEO Carlos Ghosn, reiterated long-term sales targets for the leaf, but called recent figures “a disappointment.” According to Edmund’s, while several other 100% electric models have moved into the market, the Leaf remains the most established, and is a safe bet for someone looking to buy an EV model.