When it comes to battery-electric versions of existing gas-powered vehicles, it's tough for those leopards to change their spots.

That's a conclusion from Consumer Reports, which says that the Ford Focus Electric and Chevrolet Volt are among plug-in vehicles marred by design compromises because they used platforms from existing gas-powered models.

The Volt, whose architecture stems from the Chevrolet Cruze, and the Focus EV both lack interior room and trunk space because the cars' larger batteries were crammed into spaces not originally designed to accommodate them, according to the publication. In contrast, models like the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model S, which were always designed for electric powertrains, keep most if not all of their batteries underneath the car's flooring, increasing roominess as well as improving handling. Consumer Reports noted the Mercedes-Benz B-Class Fuel Cell vehicle as an exception because most of its powertrain components are also in the floor.

The topic of converted electric-drive vehicles vs. those that had always been designed as EVs is topical as many automakers rush EVs to the market to capitalize on growing awareness of electric-drive vehicles.

Earlier this month, Green Car Reports broached the topic of converted vs. purpose built EVs in an article about which EVs are being made for true production and which are being produced merely to comply with California's quota for zero-emissions vehicles. Green Car Reports concluded that converted models such as electric versions of the Focus, Honda Fit and Toyota RAV4 are being made merely for compliance purposes.


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