By Rick Popely on September 13, 2013
What's the least-expensive car with an electric-only mode?
That honor goes to the 2013 Smart ForTwo Electric Drive, a battery-powered version of the Smart ForTwo that provides up to 68 miles of electric-only range. The Smart EV coupe starts at $25,750 and the convertible at $28,750, including the $750 destination charge and before any federal or state tax credits.
Not far behind in price is the 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV, which starts at $27,495, including the $810 destination charge. Before you get all charged up about the Spark EV, it is available only in California and Oregon, and Chevrolet hasn't said where else it might be offered in the future (the Smart ForTwo Electric Drive is available nationally). The Spark EV has an estimated range of 82 miles.
The Nissan Leaf is next in line on the price list. Nissan lowered the price on 2013 models, and the base S version starts at $29,650, including the $850 destination charge and before EV tax credits. The estimated range on the Leaf, which is sold nationally, is 75 miles.
These cars are all-electric, all the time. Plug-in hybrid models such as the Toyota Prius Plug-In and Ford C-Max Energi run on battery power for shorter distances (about 21 miles on the C-Max and 11 miles on the Prius) before they change over to gas-electric hybrid operation.
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Contributor Rick Popely has covered the auto industry for decades and hosts a weekly online radio show on TalkZone.com . Email Rick