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HLN's Clark Howard turns over a new 'Leaf'

  • HLN money expert Clark Howard has owned electric cars since the 1970s
  • Hybrid and electric vehicles a reality more than ever

HLN money expert Clark Howard has been on the automotive cutting edge for a long time. From the Freeway, a late 1970s attempt at an electric car; to the Honda Insight, the first hybrid available in the U.S. in 2000; to a natural gas vehicle -- Clark has owned and tried them all.

Now, after a 21-month wait, he’s got the all-electric Nissan Leaf. On the heels of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, where more than a dozen new electrics, hybrids and plug-ins were introduced, it’s clear that electric cars are more of a reality than ever.

Although some analysts expect hybrid and electric vehicles are still years from hitting mainstream America, automakers are throwing billions into production and development, in part based on a plan introduced by President Obama in July that requires automakers to double overall fuel economy to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. While cars and trucks today average only 27 miles per gallon, the market for electric vehicles is quickly expanding and Clark is staying right on top of it.

We went out for a drive with Clark in the Leaf to get his thoughts from behind the wheel.

Introduced at 2012 North American International Auto Show:

Mercedes E400 Hybrid
Mercedes E300 BlueTec Hybrid
Ford Fusion Energi  (options for gas, hybrid, plug-in hybrid)
BMW ActiveHybrid 5
Toyota Prius C
Lexus LF-LC Hybrid
Honda Acura ILX
Honda Acura NSX
2013 Accord Coupe concept (includes hybrid option)

Plug-in hybrid
Volvo XC60 plug-in hybrid
Toyota NS4 (concept)

AMP all-electric SUV (Jeep Cherokee)
Via size E-REV electric truck
Volkswagen E-Bugster concept
Daimler/Smart For-Us truck
Tata eMo electric concept
Nissan e-NV200 electric van

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