I want an electric car. I've had a ride in one and the silent, clean power of an electric vehicle is cooler than any big-engine sports car. Electric cars were science-fiction material when I was a kid. We drove big cars that guzzled petrol and had engines that rumbled when you stepped on the accelerator. That was cool then, but it's not cool anymore. Electric cars have come a long way since the early days when they were small vehicles that could only be used in the city because their batteries had such a short life. And carmakers are finding ways to make cars that suit the desires of drivers. Mitsubishi is catering to US tastes for big, cheap cars with its new i-MiEV, which has more room inside and a lower price tag than many of its competitors. Many electric cars can now travel up to 200 kilometres on one charge, and, although they remain more expensive than petrol cars, prices are coming down. Toyota has made itself one of the leading electric car companies with its Prius, but the selection of electric cars will grow in the next two years as more of the big car companies get into gear. Tesla, another electric carmaker, says it hopes to launch an electric SUV by the end of next year. It has already designed a luxury sedan and a sports car to run on electricity. Ford is launching a small commercial electric-powered van, Transit Connect. Luxury carmakers are looking at ways to deliver the comfort of a conventional car in an electric model. BMW is investing about US$560 million in developing an electric car and Audi has said it will invest US$90 million in the same strategy. Many governments are taking steps to make electric cars more viable. China, Japan, Korea, the European Union and North America are all building battery charging networks, while some governments offer tax benefits to electric car buyers. What would you prefer: the cool new technology of an electric car or an old petrol guzzler?