It takes a lot of hard work to come up with an electric vehicle. They're slowly becoming mainstream, but it wasn't the case a couple of years ago. A century ago, the mass production of electric vehicles was just but a pipe dream. Today, companies like Tesla have paved way for the production of high-tech electric cars. The modern electric car is stylish and packs a punch when it comes to performance.
There have been companies before Tesla that have tried their hands in manufacturing electric vehicles. Some have come up with amazing concepts, while others have given a bad name to the electric automobile industry. The first electric car can be traced all the way back to 1832, when Scottish inventor Robert Anderson conceptualized an electric carrier that was powered by non-rechargeable primary cells. The first successful electric car built in the United States was by Williams Morrison in 1891.
There have been a lot of battery-powered bumps over the years, and those that have made it on the list truly deserve it. An electric car is supposed to be efficient and reliable and should not be produced just for the sake of it. Tesla has made a lot of other electric cars look lame, and it's safe to say they're the quintessential electric vehicles. Here are 20 of the worst electric cars ever made.
The thing with the Coda is it looks like an average-built American Sedan. That's just half of the story. The car was produced by Coda Automotive, and there were several reschedulings before it finally began production in 2012. There were only 117 units ever produced, and these were all sold in the State of California. The car had just an average design, and the performance under the hood wasn't impressive by any measure.
What infuriated a lot of car enthusiasts was the starting price of $37, 250, which was very expensive for an electric car with basic functionalities.
Even with the price tag, the Coda had safety issues that led to the recall of some units. The company eventually filed for bankruptcy in 2013.
The Elcar came into the automotive scene in the '70s. The car was too ugly, even going by the standards of an electric vehicle. Elcar, as a company, was founded in 1905 and had a bad history with automobile manufacturing. Their earlier cars were to be supplied to Larry Fay, a successful New York businessman at that time. The Great Depression came about, and Fay was shot dead by one of his disgruntled employees.
The Elcar was a disaster waiting to happen on the road. It had the worst suspension you could get in any kind of vehicle.
The brake pedal was badly engineered and could disassemble the whole car in case of emergency braking. The only credit we can give the Elcar is that it could go 25 mph, which was groundbreaking for an electric vehicle at that time.
18 ZAP Xebra
The ZAP Xebra isn't only one of the worst electric cars ever made but also one of the ugliest 3-wheelers you'll ever see. The car is relatively new if you compare it to the history of the 3-wheelers. It was launched in 2006 and was classified as a 3-wheel motorcycle in some States. It has a top speed of 40 mph with a range of 20-25 miles. The Sedan variant could carry up to 4 people, which was unexpected for a 3-wheeler.
What made the Zap Xebra famous isn't the 3-wheeler mechanism but its defective body and careless engineering. The body wasn't waterproof, and the cars would malfunction when they came into contact with water. All of the 2008 models were recalled because of a problem with the brakes.
CitiCar was produced from 1974 to 1977 by American company Sebruang-Vanguard Inc. You know you're getting a bad electric vehicle when the design was inspired by a golf cart. The wedge shape only made things worse in terms of exterior appearance. The car came in three models, with all of them having a flat roof, a nearly flat vertical back, and a flat diagonal front.
According to some car news sources from the '80s, the car was nice and comfortable to drive. The performance, on the other hand, was just as bad as the exterior design. It had a top speed of 50 mph with a range of 40 miles. The ABS plastic used for the exterior was a safety hazard. But that didn't stop the company from manufacturing the Citicar.
16 Think City
The Think City is from the recent past, as it was produced from 2008 to 2012. The car was moderately successful in Europe during the time it was on the assembly line, but that didn't stop the parent company from filing for bankruptcy. There were a total of 2,500 and 1,120 units sold in Oslo, which isn't surprising since the city electric cars are popular in the city.
The company has filed for bankruptcy a record 4 times in just 20 years. The financials weren't the only problems they were experiencing since the performance was below par for the $36,000 electric car. The company also chose a wrong time to enter the electric-car market with their price since Tesla was just starting to gain momentum.
15 Reva G-WIZ
The Reva G-WIZ has to be one of the ugliest electric cars to have graced the beautiful history of the automobile. It's dumbfounding why anyone would buy this car for any other purpose than aesthetics.
Motor Magazine conducted a poll, and the Reva G-WIZ was voted as the 'Worst Car Ever In Britain'. What were the manufacturers thinking when they came up with it?
The car was conceptualized as a solution to the menacing London traffic, but it turned out to be a nightmare. The Revai sold 4,600 in total worldwide, with the United Kingdom being its biggest market. The car doesn't meet the standard of a highway-capable car in many countries because of its cardboard size and its dismal numbers under the hood.
14 Renault Fluence Z.E.
Renault as a car manufacturer has been in existence for over a century. The Renault Fluence Z.E. was seen as their first major attempt at the electric-car segment. Production started in 2011, and the cars are still on the assembly line up to today, the model having sold over 6,000 units in Europe and Asia.
Renault's main value proposition with the Fluence was the swappable battery, which also turned out to be their Achilles heel, as you had to lease the battery if you were going to buy the vehicle. The 22 kWh battery can give you a top speed of only 60 mph. The battery power goes down very quickly. The high depreciating value of the car is also a major concern. It's estimated that the value goes down by 73% with just a year of driving, covering less than 15,000 miles. Who would want to buy an electric car with such numbers?
13 Citroen C-Zero
The Citroen does look good for an electric vehicle, and it's unfortunate it had to be on the list. The resale value of the car is one of the worst in any car, let alone an electric vehicle. It has a depreciating value of 68%, which is a red flag for anyone who wants to buy a new car.
There were 932 units produced before the company discontinued the electric vehicle in 2012.
The price of the Citroen C-Zero starts at $24,000, and the car is mainly sold in Europe. At that price, you can get better vehicles, which are good with fuel and don't have a bad resale value like that of the Citroen C-Zero. This is an example of a circumstance when an electric car might not be worth it.
12 Nissan Leaf E
The Nissan Leaf E looks like any other car on the road, and you wouldn't clearly notice it as an electric car. It's estimated that the average American driver covers around 37 miles in a day. The Nissan Leaf E has a range of 107 miles, and it could be seen as the ideal electric car at face value. According to Edmunds, it would cost you around $4 to cover 100 miles with the Nissan Leaf E, which begs the question: why is the Nissan Leaf E on the list of the worst electric cars ever made?
Just like with most electric vehicles, the Nissan Leaf E has one of the worst resale value. It can depreciate by up to 68% in just under a year. If you're buying one, just know that selling it isn't really an option.
The ZENN is described as a neighborhood electric car that already paints a performance picture in your head even before you see how it looks. It has the design cues of the Mini Cooper, but that's one of the few positive things you can say about this electric automobile. The company killed the production in 2010, having sold only 500 units. It cited bad sales as the reason for the discontinuation. The car had a top speed of 25 mph. You're better off jogging in the neighborhood because you still get to protect the environment. The 40-mile range is something that did it a great disservice. You can't even count on the ZENN to take you to the local grocery store.
Whoever came up with the GEM electric concepts deserves a pat on the back (no pun intended). The first vehicle to be manufactured by GEM in 1998 could only manage 20 mph. Global Electric Motorcars were in production from 1998 to 2011 when the company was sold to Polaris.
It has the design of a golf cart despite having an off-road demeanor. The car isn't functional, by any measure, and one can't help but wonder why it was produced for more than a decade. It's hard trying to decipher even a single reason why anyone would buy the GEM. Don't be surprised when the car becomes a rare collectible when a famous person buys it. Some companies and airports use it for light transport.
9 Volpe Car
The Volpe car is the smallest electric car ever built. The car can fit inside an elevator because of its small size. There's no practicability when you look at the interior. It can barely accommodate a normal-size adult, and there's no room to put luggage. The size also poses a risk even for city driving as it's hard to see it when you're driving a mid-size sedan. The car was to be launched with a base price of $9,000.
It has scissor doors for effortless access and to make parking easier in tight spaces.
The instrumental panel found in the interior is the same one with that of a motorcycle. It has a top speed of 65 mph, which isn't bad for such a small electric vehicle.
"Miles" is a good name for an electric car, but it's still a disappointment when it comes to performance. The company was founded in 2004 and became defunct in 2013 after filing for bankruptcy. They offered four different kinds of electric vehicles that were primarily designed for very low speeds! The car was limited to a top speed of 25 mph. Any company that's serious about producing electric cars for the masses should never offer such speeds.
The Japanese are known for quality work, but the Miles was a big embarrassment to their honor. The car had a starting price of $11,000, which is a big joke, given how little it offered in terms of comfort and performance. Miles listed its assets in the range of $50 million when it filed for bankruptcy.
7 Gurgel Itaipu
This is yet another electric car with a funny name. Brazil is known for a lot of things, just not automobile manufacturing. The company was founded in 1969, specializing in off-road and buggy vehicles. The car could manage 35 mph during the day and wasn't to be driven during the night because the headlights would consume all the energy. Not a lot of thought went into the engineering despite the Gurgel being an electric vehicle.
The car was also prone to stability issues, which made it a driving disaster on the road.
There are no official sales records of the car, and it's hard to estimate how many of them were sold. It's officially the ugliest electric vehicle to have come out of South America.
6 Peugeot Ion
The Peugeot Ion is a different badge of the Citroen C-zero, but they share a lot of similarities. The exterior is identical, though the company has insisted they're two different vehicles. Peugeot was also skeptical of the performance of the car and insists customers should lease it instead of buying. This could be because of the high depreciating rates associated with the vehicle. Leasing the Ion isn't cheap, and you're better off buying a petrol car in the long run.
The Peugeot Ion was designed to compete with the Mitsubishi iMiEV, which is an expensive electric car but is worth every dollar. If you're ever stuck choosing between the Citroen C-Zero and the Peugeot Ion because you don't know the difference, we would strongly advise going for neither of them.
5 Mahindra E2o
The name "Mahindra" sounds corny for an electric vehicle. It's described as a modern hatchback built for the city dweller. It has all the tech that would make it an attractive electric vehicle. You can operate the AC using your phone, which is great if you want to warm up your vehicle in the morning. Despite borrowing the interior functionalities from Tesla, the Mahindra is still far off when it comes to performance.
The car has a 75-mile range and can go from 0 to 50 in 18 seconds.
The car was launched in the UK in 2016. 13 months later, the company had to recall all the vehicles and offered the full price of what their customers paid. You surely don't need another reason not to buy the car.
4 Corbin Sparrow
The Corbin Sparrow is one of the ugliest 3-wheelers ever made. It's no coincidence that it also appears on this list. The car was originally designed to be used by Dominos Pizza for delivery. It had a single passenger door and came in either a hatchback or a jellybean model. It's very hard to tell the difference between the two because they both have a protruding roof.
The car could average a top speed of 70 mph, which was impressive for an electric car that was produced in 1999. It had a range of 40 miles. The car wasn't practical in most cases, and the price tag wasn't justified. It's since become a collectible, some fetching up to $30,000 without taxes.
3 Sinclair C5
The Sinclair C5 was a pet project for millionaire inventor Sir Clive Sinclair. He was so convinced he was building the next big electric automobile company and spent a fortune coming up with the Sinclair C5. He insisted the C5 should be called a 'vehicle' and not a car, despite it being a 3-wheeler.
The car was launched in 1985 to a not-so-pleased British press. The launch was done hurriedly even when there were safety concerns with the C5. The battery lacked weatherproofing, and the car could manage only 15 mph. The car was dubbed as a 'post-war notorious example of failure.' It's estimated that 5,000 units were sold because of ingenious marketing from the company. Production was cut by 90% after the first year when the company couldn't realize the projected sales.
Electric vehicles have very weird names, and those names sound even worse if the cars are whack. Flybo is a Chinese electric car that happened to find its way to the States. The parent company specializes in fuel cells and electric vehicles. The car has an attractive exterior, which might draw you to it, but the interior is a disaster. Badly assembled parts and cheap materials have been used to produce the Flybo.
The central dash has a dated infotainment system that you wouldn't expect in an electric car of its magnitude. This car is an embarrassment, to say the least, and shouldn't even be in your consideration when you're looking for an electric car. You might think it's a badly done knock-off, yet it's the real thing.
1 GM EV1
It's unfortunate that the first electric to be produced for mass production is also on the list of the worst electric cars ever made. It was produced from 1996 to 1999. General Motors was encouraged to produce the EV1 after their concept car received a lot of praise. The EVI drew heavily from their concept car, but the final output left a lot to be desired.
The car's exterior was nothing but lackluster despite having a futuristic aerodynamic design. It was bound to fail with a starting price of $33,955, which was a lot of money for a car without proven reliability at that time. The ending of the GM EV1 was a sad one for the electric-car world. All of them were recalled and crashed, which remains a controversial topic up to today.
Sources: jalopnik.com; topspeed.com; whatcar.com