Australia's Best Performing Small Hatchback Cars

Published: 23rd September 2011
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In todayís world, bad news regarding climate change and gas prices, unfortunately, seems to be a staple of daily life. There has never been a riper time for those looking to save money at the pump and do Mother Earth a favour by purchasing a small, electric car. Electric cars produce 35 to 60% less CO2 than fossil-fuel dependent models and save their owners $1200 yearly in gas.

While there are some inconveniences intrinsic to owning an electric vehicle, such as the difficulty in finding charge-stations, Australia is continually adapting its infrastructure to encourage consumers to make the move to EVs. The future of fossil fuels is shaky at best, and with this fact in mind, manufactures and the government are finally striving to be forward-thinking, creating affordable models and installing more charge stations across the country. However, Australia has lagged behind other westernized nations in pushing politically for sustainable energy practices such as EVs, and as of yet has not offered any incentives, as there are in California, for consumers to purchase an EV rather than a traditional model.

While some of the more world-renowned models such as the Nissan Leaf (World Car of the Year 2011) and the Chevy Volt have yet to make it down under (they will hit the market in 2012), there are still attractive options for consumers seeking to cruise on battery power.

In March of 2010, Mitsubishi released the first mass-market electric car in Australia, the I-MIEV. The small, hatchback car gets 160km per charge and can travel at up to 130k/h. As the infrastructure in Australia adapts and more "fast-charge" stations are available, charge times can be as brief as 30 minutes, but for now, an at-home charge takes around 7 hours, via plug. The I-MIEVís batter lithium battery will last up to 10 years, and is fully recyclable. The engine often surprises first-time drivers with its pleasing get-up-and-go, and most importantly, produces zero drive-time CO2 emissions. Despite its relatively small size, the I-MIEV can also seat four adults comfortably.

As more and more doomsday climate-change reports are made known to consumers and gas prices climb continually skyward, manufacturers are finally putting in a legitimate and concentrated effort into the production of electric vehicles. While Australia has yet to put legislation in place that rewards electric car-owners for their eco-friendliness, the money saved at the pump and the lack of CO2 emissions provide enough incentive for purchasing an EV. The current market may not be teeming with options, but with the I-MIEV currently available, and the Leaf and Volt coming in the following year, Australia is poised to move towards the future with viable options in small electric cars.

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