During my idle time, I love going through car reviews on the internet. Nothing fulfils my petrol head desires like ogling at massive V12 and V8 engines, mounted on some not so pocket-friendly cars, with all of them bragging of crazy acceleration and top-of-the-line performance.
But during one of these heavenly moments, a question popped into my head; “Why don’t I go through some electric car reviews? A bit of green wouldn’t hurt.”
Well, the obvious followed. A bit of the Tesla Model S, Model X and the famous BMW i8 crowned my list.
But all through that fantasy feast (I currently own none of those high end green rides), one bizarre thought popped up in my mind; “How bad were these cars before?”
By how bad, I mean the worst of them all.
Well, in a few years’ time (probably a couple of decades) electric cars will most likely be the “in thing” in the car market as we move towards a greener future. But that was not the case a few years ago.
Electric cars, prior to the rise of the mighty Tesla and its likes, spelled nothing else but LAME. And we are going to fish out the 15 that should never have been considered for the assembly line.
Looking at this car’s body design you will totally agree that it looks more like your average American sedan. That’s good news, but its sales were bad news.
This Chinese design tried selling exclusively in California after its official launch in 2012. Well, how many did they sell?
117 units only; and here’s why.
The car, despite carrying the all-coveted green tag – and above all selling in California – was very expensive ($37,250 on the lower end to be precise!). On top of that, it had lacklustre performance, a poor NHTSA safety rating and barely a year into production, some models were already being recalled.
So, this is how it all ended. On May 2013, Coda Automotives filed for bankruptcy. The cars that were still lingering on the production line got sold to Mullen Technologies Inc.; an electric car company, which rebranded it to the Mullen 700e (Quite optimistic fellows to say the least).
This beauty (please take it sarcastically), was launched in the 70s, as a design from Zagato. This was around the time when those currently at their glory age of 40, were first seeing the light of day. Sadly, this car never made it this far with them.
Why? The car was an automotive disaster. To start with, it had a fragile suspension that took one quick reflex to the brake pedal to cause the whole car to disassemble prematurely. The fibreglass body had wide gaping seams that literally shouted “Hey, look at me!”
Sitting in the passenger cabin was close to suicide as you were directly under a pack of lead acid batteries and with zero climate control. Carrying your own fan in the car would not have been a bad idea.
Technologically, they gave it a good shot. The Elcar could do 25 miles per hour with a 40 mile range; which was good for its time. Still, no one wanted to drive it then; and today, it stands as an automotive fossil.
13. Zap Xebra
Yet another one from the Chinese, the Zap Xebra was terrible (let’s start with the name).
Produced between 2006 and 2008, this three-wheeled electric vehicle was famous for its defective body, batteries, controllers and converters. The moment it rained, or your sweet lemonade found its way to the floor of the car, everything would zap out.
What’s worse? The Xebra was brought to the US market so as to tap into the “new and vibrant market”; talk of aiming for the stars with a boat.
Launched in the 80s, this car was produced for the “urban vibe”. True, some people called it funky (misuse of this adjective) but generally, it missed the “cool” mark.
The ride comfort was well, average. The performance was nothing to write home about and neither was the range. A couple of people got awarded the Citicar in contests (I bet you can see why), and after two drives around their block, they were quickly looking for buyers.
The body design itself was lacklustre. The shape of the whole car looks like an art drawing from a vibrant kindergarten artist. Contrasting this car to the Fox Mustang which rocked the showrooms at that time, this car was surely damned for either the backyard or some old rusty junkyard.
11. Think City
Quite an ironic name for a car that people never thought of buying. The Think City had a number of flaws that surely dented its possibility of success.
First, it was in production at a time when charging stations were getting flooded with Teslas, Chevy volts and BMW i3s.
Secondly, the car’s design and performance were clearly not well thought out. This “glorified golf cart” had 100 miles of range, an underwhelming interior that made a 1970 Impala look like a Jaguar; with all this nested in a hefty price of $36,000 for a “state of the (mediocre) art” car.
The old London Taxis have never looked better. G-Wiz received the not-so-enviable crown of the “Worst car ever in Britain”, after a poll was conducted by the motoring magazine Auto Express.
This car that was originally designed to make parking a lot easier on the city streets instead turned out to be the car that would be easily parked in garages and scrap yards forever. Drivers largely complained of the car’s lack of comfort and an annoyingly sluggish pace that would make walking a rather faster and unwillingly healthier option.
The car not surprisingly doubles up as a nightmare in traffic; giving you that moment when you realize all you have covering you is a tiny box – looking more like a cardboard box – with one of the worst climate controls you can find in any car.
9. Renault Fluence Z.E
Renault makes good cars, but that can’t be said of the Fluence Z.E. This electric car, despite its fair looks that can attract any customer not interested with the technicalities, has suffered a few drawbacks of its own; the major one being its battery and battery swapping technology.
Buy it at any showroom today and you will be underwhelmed by the 22kWh battery that can only give you a maximum speed of just above 60 mph. Drive on 4 months later, and an angry you will be knocking at the same showroom door, asking why your beloved Fluence no longer boasts of 22kWh but 16kWh battery capacity.
But that’s not the only issue.
This car depreciates fast; and I mean really fast. Within a year and 12,000 miles of driving, the Fluence’s value has been estimated to drop by a whopping 73%. Now who would want to buy a car with such low resale value?
8. Citroen C-Zero
Citroen is another established maker but the C-Zero left it nowhere close to established. This lacklustre electric car turned out to be a disaster, clearly shown by its underwhelming resale value.
The C-Zero has been estimated to depreciate by a whopping 68%, just one year into use (I think bread depreciates slower!). This has been attributed largely to the high initial price compared to performance of the car.
The car didn’t relent in following the way of its similar kind when in 2012, Citroen called off its production.
7. Nissan Leaf E
Reports on electric car sales show that the Nissan Leaf is the leading car in the EV market. But cool your horses before you get straight into defence mode for this next car; the Leaf E.
This is the scrappy half brother of the top selling leaf. I know you are asking, “What makes this leaf bad?” Well, it all goes down to depreciation and resale value.
The leaf E is not the electric car you would consider for a resale. This car is another big loser when it comes to valuation after a year of use (shedding 67% of its value within 365 days)
Canadians tried doing something for the car industry with this one and guess what; they were quite successful in coming up with something – something that should have never left the concept room.
The Zenn was nothing to fall heads over heels for. The best speed it could do was 25 miles per hour which was quite disappointing for a car built in 2006. Dropping two of these on the freeway for a race would be nothing short of challenging two metallic sloths.
It had a highly disappointing range of 40 miles, leaving you with no option but to use the car for trips around your block; nothing more, nothing less. Worst of all, all this headache came with a $12,000 price tag on it.
Don’t be baffled by the off-road SUV design of this car. It fulfils none of your outdoor desires.
The best description for the GEM would be “an electrified golf cart.” This description suits it quite well, largely because of its disturbingly similar look to your everyday golf cart, but with a few SUV-like details (though I doubt whether the average Joe would use this on a golf course).
Sadly, this electric car can only serve well in covered areas; such as conferences and major trade shows; doing nothing spectacular once it comes to handling mud pools and dirt.
Here goes China again, and contrary to this car’s name, nothing is “fly” here.
Flybo is nothing but a badly engineered rusty electric car with some of the worst accessories you could find in any car on the globe.
You might forgive it for its external looks but getting inside you would wish a sudden Armageddon on this car. The car resembles some rusty box on wheels and the infotainment system looks like some Stone Age souvenir on a museum display.
Remember the petrol model Daihatsu Move? A great car, right? Well, let’s customize it a little by adding some weight, shedding some power and ending up with the Miles.
Many of us wish the Daihatsu Move had never been humiliated this much. Miles is a good example of Japanese engineering gone wrong.
Things were not all rosy with the Miles as some car owners complained of rust forming in the panels barely two years into owning the car. The worst news was, this rust was forming in places least wanted, such as the steering wheel and seat frames.
This car was scrappy and very sensitive to night driving; or rather, driving with the headlights on. With the headlights off, the car could rocket (in sloth terms) to 35 miles per hour, but once the front headlights were switched on, walking would be a more viable option.
This two door car looked worse than an archaeologist rendering of early man’s skull. The car not only had stability issues, but also safety and range issues.
1. GM EV1
GM’s first step into the electric vehicle industry was nothing short of lacklustre.
The EV1, GM’s first electric car entry model, was nowhere close to successful.
Despite its state of the art technology and great aerodynamic design, the EV1 just didn’t cut it among consumers. Worse, its trials of sales within California fell nowhere near successful.
But what killed it? Apart from the range and reliability issues, this car was too expensive for the average consumer (hitting $33,995 on the price tag.)
So, how did it end? All EV1s were recalled and crashed in a spectacular event dubbed “The killing of the electric car.”
Electric cars have for long been termed as lame. But these 15 electric cars are the sure reason why electric cars received that tag name.
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