Automakers betting on electric future

While Chevrolet and Nissan will be first out of the gate with their new Volt and Leaf electric vehicles (EV), drivers shouldn't expect the electric segment to remain a two-horse race for very long. In fact, nearly every major automaker has unveiled plans for a fully-electric or plug-in hybrid by the end of 2012.

Yet it remains to be seen if the American public will be waiting with open arms. A recent survey by Kelley Blue Book revealed that only 7 percent of Americans would consider purchasing an EV, citing issues like range, availability of charging stations, and price.

Several automakers have recently made a move to work on the price of the electric battery packs that every EV must contain. Current technology means that the packs cost $700-$800 per kilowatt hour. But a breakthrough by electric automaker Tesla in adapting lithium-ion laptop batteries for use in vehicles means that the price could soon be reduced to $200 per kilowatt hour.

With the battery packs one of the costliest additions that cause electric vehicles' prices to skyrocket, that's good news for green drivers. However, those who want to truly save on a car may want to wait until some of the models hit the used car market, where they'll likely be available at a discount.