Here are some of the most well-known electric models.
One of the first all-electric sports cars, it goes 0-60 mph (97 kph) in 3.9 seconds. As of January, Tesla Motors, based in Silicon Valley, had delivered more than 1,500 Roadsters to at least 30 countries and is increasing production of right-hand-drive Roadsters to cater to countries such as the UK, where motorists drive on the left. The company is named after the famous electrical engineer and physicist Nikola Tesla and includes Abu Dhabi-based Aabar Investments as a significant shareholder. Tesla claims the Roadster has double the energy efficiency of the Toyota Prius.
An all-electric, five-door hatchback, it began production last year in Japan, the UK and US. Its name, apart from associating with green, stands for "leading, environmentally friendly, affordable, family car". The US Environmental Protection Agency determined the range to be 117km and rated its combined fuel economy at 99 miles (158km) per gallon petrol equivalent. Deliveries began in Japan and the US in December.
A hybrid electric vehicle (HEV), meaning it has an electric propulsion system and an internal combustion engine, it first went on sale in Japan in 1997 and was introduced abroad four years later, making it the first mass-produced HEV. Last September, the Prius passed the two million units sold mark, with the US as its largest market representing nearly half of all sales.
A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), meaning it is primarily powered by an electric propulsion system but has a small combustion engine to extend range, the Volt has been on sale in the US since December. Chevrolet says the car can do 40km to 80km on its lithium-ion battery, while its total range is 610km including the use of its on-board petrol-power generator. The suggested retail price for the car starts at US$40,280 (Dh147,945) excluding charges, taxes or any incentives, although qualified US buyers are eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit.
* Ivan Gale