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7 Electric Cars You'll Be Able To Buy Very Soon -- Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf, Tesla & More (PHOTOS)

Huffington Post     First Posted: 09/17/10 01:38 PM ET   Updated: 05/25/11 06:40 PM ET

We've all heard it before: electric cars are the future, albeit a future that never seems quite near enough.

Though electric vehicles are nothing new, a combination of limited range, speed, inefficient charging methods, and higher prices have kept electric cars from achieving mass appeal.

Thanks, in part, to advances in technology and increased consumer demand for alternative fuel vehicles cars, automakers like Nissan, GM, and Daimler are now in the process of readying electric cars for the mass market. Thanks to strong demand, GM is doubling its production capacity for the highly anticipated Chevy Volt. Nissan has even taken a $1.6 billion U.S. Department of Energy loan to modify an existing US plant to manufacture the Leaf.

And some manufacturers are hoping to appeal to customers' aesthetic sensibilities. Tesla has recently hired a retail expert George Blankenship, who has worked with GAP and Apple, to bolster its retail presence.

The following cars are either in production or will soon be in production and available for sale in the United States within a year or two. None of the prices include the $7,500 federal tax credit for electric cars. State tax credits vary by state from as much as $5,000 in Georgia to $36 in D.C.

Which early entrant into the electric car field is the most appealing? Check them out and vote below:

Nissan Leaf
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When It'll Be Available: The Leaf will hit the market this December in limited quantities and in limited markets, but a full US market roll-out is planned for 2012.

The Details: The Leaf is only available with an electric motor that features a top speed of 87 mph. This motor has three levels for recharging: 120V for level one, 220V for level two and 480V for level three. At level one, it takes 20 hours to recharge fully from empty, level two takes eight hours and level three can charge to 80 percent capacity in 30 minutes. Level three charging depletes the battery’s capacity 10 percent faster, so Nissan recommends against using level three as the primary charging method.

Innovative features include a small solar panel mounted on the rear spoiler that can trickle charge the auxiliary battery. The Leaf’s battery will have an 8-year 100,000 mile warranty.

Price: $25,000

MPG: 367 miles per gallon, according to Nissan, though many call this number too generous

What They're Saying: reviewed the Leaf and was very pleased with the car. "Few things stand out, and that's exactly its point. Nissan isn't out to change the driving experience, it's just changing the method of motivation. And more than anything else, that's what's going to bring electric vehicles into the mainstream," writes the blog.
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