Which electric car is best for you? (comparison)

Waving goodbye to your local gas station used to involve waiting lists, lease-only pilot programs, or dropping six figures on an early adopters’ plaything like the Tesla Roadster. These days, just about anyone can walk into a local dealership, plunk down $35,000, and drive away in a
car that doesn’t have a tailpipe.

No, the 2012 Nissan Leaf, 2012 Ford Focus Electric, and 2012 Mitsubishi i-MIEV aren’t the first electric cars to hit the market. However, they are in the first batch of fully electric, zero-emissions vehicles that are priced and packaged for mass consumption. Each seats four or five adults comfortably, has space for cargo and groceries, and packs much of the same (if not better) cabin technology and creature comforts as its gasoline-powered stablemates.

We’ve put these three models side by side in the chart below to see how they stack up and compare with one another. Green values indicate the best-performing model in each category. Which one is best for you? Read on:

 
2012 Ford Focus Electric
2012 Nissan Leaf
2012 Mitsubishi i-MIEV
 

Performance

Motor
107kW
80kW
49kW
Torque
184 pound-feet
207 pound-feet
145 pound-feet
Horsepower
143 hp
107 hp
66 hp
Curb weight
3,624 lbs
3,385 lbs
2,579 lbs
Weight/Power ratio
25.34 lbs/hp
31.64 lbs/hp
39.08 lbs/hp
Top speed
84 mph
90 mph
81 mph
Economy and efficiency

mpge city*
110 mpge
106 mpge
126 mpge
mpge highway*
99 mpge
92 mpge
99 mpge
mpge combined*
105 mpge
99 mpge
112 mpge
Estimated range*
76 miles
73 miles
62 miles
Cost to drive 25 miles*
$0.96
$1.02
$0.90
Annual fuel cost*
$600
$600
$550
Battery and charging

Battery type
Lithium ion, liquid-cooled and heated
Lithium ion, air-cooled and heated
Lithium ion, air-cooled, optional battery heater
Battery capacity
23kWh
24kWh
16kWh
Full charge time @ 240V / 120V
4 hrs / 20 hrs
7 hrs / 21 hrs
7 hrs / 22 hrs
Proprietary charging option
n/a
Optional DC fast charger (CHAdeMO) charges to 80% in 30 minutes
Optional DC fast charger (CHAdeMO) charges to 80% in 30 minutes
Cabin tech

Telematics and remote vehicle management
MyFord Mobile app and Web portal
Nissan connection powered by Carwings
n/a
Infotainment system and cabin tech
Standard: MyFord Touch, Ford Sync powered by Microsoft, standard navigation with EcoRoute
Standard: Nissan navigation customized for Leaf, Bluetooth HF and A2DP, and USB and
iPod connectivity
Optional: 40GB HDD Navigation system with rearview camera, FUSE Hands-free Link System with USB port, 360-watt premium audio system
Vehicle management apps
MyFord Mobile app for Android, BlackBerry,
iPhone, and HTML5-capable smartphones
Carwings Nissan LEAF app for Android, BlackBerry, and iPhone
n/a
Noteworthy creature comforts
Customizable MyFord Touch instrument cluster provides visual feedback
Nissan navigation is range-aware, puck-shaped drive selector
Original Wraps custom graphics program
Additional details

Green cred bonus points
Cloth seats made of 100% recycled material, stuffed with bio-based foam
Rear spoiler with integrated solar panel for SL models
Most efficient model in the pack with lowest operating costs
A typical driver…
…is a techie type who spends more time staring at the MyFord Touch interface than watching the road. Pulls out phone during dinner to check charge state.
…gets a custom plate that reads “NOGAS” or something equally obnoxious. Scowls at Chevy Volt drivers, but doesn’t know why.
…constantly compensates for the i-MIEV’s short range and toylike appearance by bragging to total strangers about miles per gallon equivalent, fuel costs, and parking.
Pricing

Base price
$39,200
$35,200
$29,125
Fully loaded with destination
$41,485
$38,100
$34,765

*Fuel economy (mpge) and operating cost data provided by FuelEconomy.gov.

The Ford Focus Electric edges out the competition where range and charging time are concerned, leading me to believe that it would be the best model for those with “range anxiety.” Additionally, its standard cabin tech package is arguably the most sophisticated of the bunch.

Meanwhile, the bare-bones Mitsubishi i-MIEV works out as the model with the lowest entry and operating costs. It is clearly the penny-pincher’s EV.

Nissan’s Leaf finishes in the middle of the pack for most of our chosen metrics. However, it’s also the model that’s been around for the longest, with thousands of examples on the roads already. Drivers looking for reliability from EV technology (which is still viewed as early adopter territory by many buyers) may find themselves gravitating to the Leaf for this reason.

Which of this new batch of electric cars do you like best? Sound off in the comments with your pick!

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Skype lands on PlayStation Vita

You can download Skype for PlayStation Vita from the PlayStation Store for free.

(Credit:
Sony Computer Entertainment)

Skype for
PlayStation Vita essentially works just like any other smartphone version of the software, providing a comprehensive set of features, free Skype-to-Skype voice, and high-quality video calls. Also, gabbers can choose between the rear and front-facing Vita cameras during video communication. The aesthetics of the Skype client seem tailored to blend in with the overall tone of the Vita user interface, which I consider a nice touch.

Using Skype on the Vita will not interrupt any record-breaking gaming sessions, as the app runs in background mode.

“You have the capability to pause a game, conduct a call, and then return to a previous activity,” Manrique Brenes, a senior director at Skype, said in a blog post. “Plus, with a little Skype credit you can make low-cost calls to landlines and mobile directly from your PS Vita.”

Does that make the Vita the Zack Morris cell phone of this decade, or did we already cross that threshold a long time ago?

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/Jg8jByh6Qfo/

Ferrari trivia contest

Ferrari 599XX Evo

The Ferrari 599XX Evo, of which only about 30 exist in the world, will be doing laps during the Ferrari Race Days weekend at Infineon Raceway.

(Credit:
Ferrari)

Over the weekend of April 28, Ferrari hosts its Racing Days at Infineon Raceway in Northern California. The featured event will be the Ferrari Challenge, a one-model race with the 458 Challenge version of the 458 Italia.

Ferrari aficionados will want to see the 599XX Evo take laps. An example of this rare, 740-horsepower Italian stallion will be on hand, letting Ferrari engineers test its active aerodynamics system. Ferrari will also be running an FXX for testing purposes.

Race history buffs will also enjoy seeing laps by historic Ferrari F1
cars.

To win, be among the first 20 to correctly answer this question: Which car earned the record last year for the highest amount ever paid for a car at public auction?

Send your answer to cartech@cnet.com, with “Ferrari Trivia Contest” as the subject line. You must specify the make and model of the car in the body of the e-mail. You will also need to include a mailing address along with your preference for which day you would like to attend.

Each winner will get a pair of tickets good for either Saturday, April 28, or Sunday, April 29.

Infineon Raceway

View Larger Map

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The best in AV furniture

A Salamander Design Elba corner cabinet

(Credit:
Salamander Design)

Salamander Designs offers a vast range of quality audio-video entertainment furniture, and has recently expanded its Chameleon Collection of corner-style and extrawide cabinets.

Salamander’s four-door Quad cabinets are designed to accommodate today’s large flat-panel TVs, both visually and structurally. New product offerings include contemporary and traditional styles.

The corner cabinets are available in nine different styles, including 20-inch- and 30-inch-high versions and a 30-inch-high version with grillework designed to conceal a center-channel speaker. Salamander AV cabinets are available in a vast array of woods and configurations. The cabinets are built with premium-grade materials and construction techniques. Salamander’s U.S.-based manufacturing and assembly allow finished cabinets to be delivered within a few days of order. Salamander prices start at around $149 for the Archetype 3.0 equipment rack and go up to thousands of dollars for the larger pieces.

A Joel Liebman stereo cabinet

(Credit:
Joel Liebman)

Coming from the artisan side we have Joel Liebman, who builds some of the most beautiful AV furniture I’ve ever seen. Liebman’s workshop is in Easthampton, Mass.; he’s on the third floor of a classic New England Mill building. The cabinets I’m showing on this blog are one-of-a-kind designs, built to order. He can include cooling fans for hot-running components, wire management, lighting systems, etc. Liebman is a one-man operation, so his customers should be prepared to wait three or more months to receive their hand-crafted furniture. Prices start around $4,000 for a TV stand.

A Joel Liebman cabinet

(Credit:
Joel Liebman)

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2012 Toyota Prius C: Fuel economy champ

Habanero orange outshines the Golden Gate Bridge’s International Orange paint job.

(Credit:
Wayne Cunningham/CNET)

It seems like the Prius C model should come after the Prius B, and before the Prius D. But Toyota shows no interest in alphabetical naming when it comes to its Prius lineup. Toyota recently expanded the
cars it calls Prius, adding to the standard model the Prius V, a plug-in version, and now the C.

The C means City, which explains the smaller dimensions of the car. The Prius C is a nice, modern little hatchback a foot and half shorter than the standard Prius. Its size makes it easy to park and maneuver through narrow lanes.

But its real virtue is fuel economy. Although the EPA estimates put it on level with the standard Prius, at 50 mpg, we found it did consistently better, turning in an average of 51.2 mpg after a week of driving in the urban confines of San Francisco, hills included, and the fast-moving freeways of California.

It also serves as a showcase of new Toyota cabin technology, such as a new navigation system. The new Entune system uses your connected smartphone to bring in traffic data, local gas prices, Bing search, and other useful apps and information.

Read CNET’s review of the 2012 Toyota Prius C.

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Beijing auto show features everything from @Ants to Urus

Chery @Ant personal mobility concept

Chery’s @Ant personal mobility concept is designed to join up in trains.

(Credit:
Newspress Ltd.)

China’s international auto show in Beijing starts on Friday, April 27, but we have an early look at the production
cars and concepts that will be on display.

The show features cars from Chinese automakers and their joint venture partners, the latter including such well-known brands as Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and Jeep.

Cars of the Auto China 2012 show in Beijing

Click through for the full photo gallery and more details.

Some of the concepts will be the basis for new, global production models. Many employ electric or hybrid powertrains.

Get a look at Chinese market production models from BAIC, Geely, GAC, and Brilliance, companies that may eventually hit the U.S. market.

Auto China 2012 runs from April 27 to May 2 in Beijing.

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