More electric options to come to American dealerships

The Nissan Leaf was once the only all-electric vehicle on the U.S. Market, but the 2012 model year is bringing a slew of other options. Drivers who are shopping on a budget or with a car loan but still want to buy electric have other options to save money. The U.S. Department of Energy offers drivers who purchase electric a federal tax credit of up to $7,500.

Plus, many cities have set up EV charging stations to encourage more drivers to go electric, and they are free for the most part. Free charges and never having to shell out cash at the gas station can make up for the initial cost of a vehicle, and the money saved can be used to repay an auto loan.

Time reports that Ford will be releasing five new electric vehicles (EVs) in the next three years, and the first will be the electrified Ford Focus. The price of the car has been keep secret so far, but it is due to reach dealerships by the end of this year. The EV will have a range of about 70 miles per charge, similar to that of the Nissan Leaf (about 73 miles per charge). However, the Focus Electric takes about half the time to fully charge than the Leaf. It also takes ‘going green’ one step further.

“An electric vehicle is already considered a green vehicle, but Ford wanted to go a step further by looking at ways to make the materials inside the Focus Electric more eco-friendly as well,” Ford’s product sustainability manager, Carrie Majeske, told Green Car Reports. “Using recycled or renewable materials in lieu of petroleum-based materials allows Ford to minimize the amount of virgin materials used in the Focus Electric.”

Not all new EVs will be compact cars. Toyota is working on the RAV4 EV, which should be available to consumers some time in 2012. The RAV4 will be introduced to the market along with the Scion iQ EV, which will only be available for fleets and car-sharing services, such as ZipCar.

Mitsubishi will also be bringing an EV to American shores early next year. The i-MiEV, which is already on the roads of Australia, England and Japan, is not only the lightest EV in production. It will also be one of the least-expensive at a starting price of under $28,000, according to Time.