5 Plug-in Cars You Might Want But Can’t Buy In America

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5 Plug-in Cars You Might Want But Can’t Buy In America

Group Renault

Take a look across the Atlantic and you’ll find that Europe has a larger selection of plug-in vehicles than what’s offered in the U.S. — both pure electrics and plug-in hybrid electrics. Among the mix are brands that aren’t sold here like Bollore, Citreon, Peugeot and Renault.

Beyond that, European consumers can drive away in a mainstream (read affordable) plug-in sport utility vehicle or a premium plug-in wagon, neither of which can be found in a U.S. dealer showroom.

There are a number of reasons why one market gets a particular vehicle model and others do not. The primary reason is the cost to meet different regulations. For example, safety standards in the U.S are different than those in Europe, as are the government mandates to meet fuel economy and carbon emissions. Even the driving cycle for measuring fuel economy and electric driving range is different.

So, until governments agree on common regulations (probably never) there is little chance that the following five plug-in vehicles — with one exception — will be brought to the New World. That’s too bad because there is at least one you might want.

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Volkswagen e-Up!

Volkswagen’s e-Up! Electric car could easily be the preferred vehicle in any crowded city. Volkswagen

When introduced as a concept car, Volkswagen called the Up! the “Beetle for the 21st Century.” The e-Up! is the battery-electric version of the gasoline car and could easily be the preferred vehicle in any crowded city. The little four-door hatchback has an 80 horsepower (60 kilowatt) electric motor that is powered by an 18.7 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. This combination is good for around 80 miles of driving range with a top speed of 85 mph. It has a 0 to 60 mph pace of 11 seconds, more than enough to keep up with traffic. In the states a comparable EV is the Chevrolet Spark, which shares many of the same qualities, but is a compliance car. 

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Renault Zoe

Through the end of October, the Renault Zoe was Europe’s number two selling electric vehicle, trailing only its Renault-Nissan Alliance cousin, the Nissan Leaf. Group Renault

Through the end of October, the Renault Zoe was Europe’s number two selling electric vehicle, trailing its Renault-Nissan Alliance cousin, the Nissan Leaf, by just 240 units. Featuring a real-world driving range of around 95 miles, the five-passenger Zoe would have one of the longest ranges of any EV zipping about on U.S. city streets. Powered by a 22-kilowatt hour lithium-ion battery and an 82 horsepower, 162 pounds-feet electric motor, it can scoot to 60 mph in 10 seconds. British car magazine Autocar says the Zoe is “pleasing to drive, quiet, classy and, leaving the electric thing to one side for a moment, a stylish and desirable-looking small car. Priced at the U.S. equivalent of  $27,897 before any incentives makes the Zoe a bargain EV.

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Volkswagen Golf GTE

Volkswagen’s Golf GTE is what you get when you combine the performance of VW’s excellent GTI with the electric know how culled from the e-Golf electric car. Volkswagen

Volkswagen’s Golf GTE (Gran Turismo Electricity) is what you get when you combine the performance of VW’s excellent GTI with the electric know how culled from the e-Golf electric car. Using the Golf underpinnings, it packs a 1.4-liter turbocharged 184 horsepower four-cylinder engine, a 75-kilowatt electric motor and 8.7-kilowatt hour battery pack beneath the familiar skin. Power is directed to the front wheels via a six-speed, dual-clutch transmission that’s tuned specifically for hybrid duty. Running on pure electrons, the small hatchback has a 31-mile EV-only driving range. Working with the small gas engine, the car is capable of, dare I say, a diesel-like range of 585 miles. For a company that is mired in deep do-do over the diesel scandal, VW could do worse than bring the GTE to this side of the Atlantic.

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Volvo V60 HEV

It would seem that the Volvo V60 PHEV diesel plug-in hybrid wagon would sell quite well in the U.S. Volvo Cars

One of Europe’s top ten selling plug-in vehicles (ranked number nine), it would seem that the Volvo V60 PHEV  (plug-in electric hybrid) wagon would sell quite well in the U.S. as well. But alas, the diesel-electric plug-in hybrid won’t make it here. The front wheels are driven by a five-cylinder 2.4-liter turbocharged diesel engine that produces 215 horsepower and 325 pounds-feet of torque. When needed, a rear axle electric motor kicks in and adds an additional 75 hp, which receives its power from a 12-kilowatt hour lithium-ion battery pack. Electric-only driving range is 31 miles; combined with the diesel engine total range is 750 miles. A diesel-electric drivetrain is an expensive proposition and the V60 would be priced at around $60,000 if it were available here. 

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Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Depending on pricing the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV plug-in hybrid could quickly climb the sales charts. Mitsubishi

Mitsubishi’s Outlander PHEV U.S. launch has been delayed several times since its 2013 introduction, but now the automaker appears confident that it will arrive here in the second quarter of 2016. In the meantime it has become the leading plug-in seller in Europe. If the U.S. model matches the European PHEV the hybrid drivetrain will feature a 200 horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and two 60-kilowatt electric motors, one front and one rear. Electric driving range is around 20 miles. A redesigned Outlander PHEV was introduced earlier this year with major styling changes, an updated interior and tweaks to the chassis. It’s not known if the U.S. model will have Europe’s V2H (vehicle to home) technology that turns the car into a power generator for any household appliances. Depending on pricing this plug-in hybrid could quickly climb the sales charts.