Electric Car Performance
The top speed of all-electric cars currently available in the United States is 125 mph, and that’s just because it’s electronically limited. The Tesla Roadster and the Nissan Leaf are two of the few commercially available all-electric vehicles in the U.S. today, and both offer impressive specs.
Driving the Tesla Roadster: Performance Specs
- Top speed: 125 mph
- 0 – 60: 3.9 seconds
- Horsepower: 288 hp
The Tesla Roadster leaps to 60 miles per hour in a remarkably smooth 3.9 seconds. The electric gearbox has only one speed, so there’s no shifting to interrupt the acceleration. Otherwise, the car handles much like the Lotus Elise that it was based on. The regenerative braking makes the car immediately start to slow down when the accelerator is released. This is because the wheel motors are acting like generators to capture that braking energy. It feels a bit strange when you’re used to coasting for a while after you release the gas, but it’s a minor quirk and essential for maximizing the vehicle’s range. The dash system offers plenty of performance and motor health information, including some just-for-fun info like real-time g-forces. The only other glaring difference between the Tesla Roadster and comparable sports cars is the need to charge the battery.
Driving the Nissan Leaf: Performance Specs
- Top speed: 90 mph
- 0 – 60: 9.9 seconds
- Horsepower: 107 hp
The features of the Nissan Leaf highlight technology over top speeds. The five-door hatchback is similar to a Toyota Yaris or Honda Fit, and the interior is roomy and comfortable. It may seem anticlimactic, but driving a Nissan Leaf seems like driving any car. This is actually good news, as many expect electric cars to have sluggish acceleration and pitiful performance. Driving may feel similar to a normal car, but the silence of the Nissan Leaf will definitely stand out. The lack of a combustion engine means no motor noise, so it’s easy to doubt the car is even running before you nudge the accelerator downward. The electronic dashboard display offers a futuristic touch, with a large range meter that details how much further you can drive on the current charge and how fast it’s depleting. The car can accelerate quite quickly, but the dashboard actually discourages bad driving habits with an interactive image of a fir tree. Drive poorly, and the tree shrinks. Start and stop gently, and the tree grows. It’s a sort of video game to discourage you from prematurely depleting your battery. While the Tesla Roadster and Nissan Leaf currently share the electric car market with only a few other choices, several other carmakers will be releasing other electric cars in the coming years. With this added competition along with rising gas prices, electric cars may become the standard sooner than expected.
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