The EVs Are Coming
Every year more new electric vehicles appear on the American market, and what seemed like a novelty only a few years ago is beginning to be become a mainstream option for U.S. buyers. Although less than 2 percent of all new vehicles sold in America are battery electric vehicles (BEV) according to InsideEVs, the number of choices continues to grow, ranging from basic transportation to luxurious rides.
EVs Since the 1800s
Electric cars in America are nothing new — the first electric-powered vehicles were on the road in the late 1800s, becoming quite popular around the turn of the 20th century. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, around one third of all vehicles on the road in the U.S. in 1901 were electric. But with the introduction of the inexpensive Ford Model T and readily available crude oil, gasoline-powered cars gained popularity, and by the 1930s the electric car had all but disappeared.
When U.S. gas prices started to climb during the 1970s due to the OPEC oil embargo, suddenly drivers developed a renewed interest in electric vehicles. Major car companies began researching EVs, but it was the Sebring Vanguard CitiCar that became one of the most successful electric vehicles of the time. The odd-shaped 2-seater had a range of about 50 miles, and its popularity made Sebring Vanguard the sixth-largest U.S. automaker in 1975. Twenty years later, General Motors released the groundbreaking EV1 — an electric vehicle with a range of about 100 miles.
Tesla and LEAF
In 2006 a new Silicon Valley startup company called Tesla announced plans to build an electric sports car with a range of more than 200 miles. That car would ultimately come to market in 2011, but at more than $100,000 it was out of range of most car shoppers. Nissan provided an alternative: the LEAF was introduced around the same time as a more affordable mainstream electric vehicle option. With improved battery technology and other advances, there are now close to 20 pure electric models (burning no gasoline) either on sale or coming soon to American roads. The following EV options are available today (and a few tomorrow). Note: prices listed do not reflect any local or federal subsidies.
Aston Martin Rapide-E
Base MSRP: $300,000-plus (estimate)
Range: 200 miles-plus (estimate)
Only 155 buyers will get the chance to take delivery of Aston Martin’s first electric vehicle. Based on one of the sexiest 4-door sedans on the road, the Rapide-E will have the performance expected of this legendary British marque. Mounted at the rear of the Rapide-E are two electric motors producing more than 600 horsepower, which will move this new EV to 60 mph in less than 4 seconds. The Rapide-E has an 800-volt architecture with a 65kWh battery pack providing a range of over 200 miles — or a full lap at speed around the famous Nürburgring racetrack in Germany.
Base MSRP: $74,800
Range: 204 miles
The German car company has been showing electric concept vehicles for years, but for 2019 there’s finally one we can buy. A premium 5-seat midsize SUV, the e-tron is Audi’s first all-electric series production vehicle, with a design that is both stylish and aerodynamic with a familiar but uniquely enclosed grille. Audi e-tron is propelled by two power powerful electric motors — one powering each axle — creating a new generation of quattro electric all-wheel drive that can adjust the amount of torque delivered to each axle for ideal balance according to driving conditions. The new e-tron is quick — with up to 402 horsepower available, it will sprint to 60 mph in about 5.5 seconds.
Base MSRP: $44,450
Range: 153 miles
BMW’s electric i3 has been on the market since 2014, and for 2019 the innovative little car gets a larger 120 Ah battery. With more juice on tap, the i3 can now travel almost double the range it had when first introduced. Built on an aluminum frame with a carbon fiber body, the i3 has a unique interior trimmed in recycled or renewable materials. The small car features rear-hinged rear doors for easy access to all seating positions. Power comes from a 170-horsepower electric motor that delivers a zero-to-60 mph time of just over 7 seconds. A new i3s is added to the lineup for 2019, offering a bit more power as well as a sportier chassis and more responsive performance.
Chevrolet Bolt EV
Base MSRP: $36,620
Range: 238 miles
Chevrolet introduced the innovative Bolt EV two years ago, and the fun-to-drive compact sedan offers impressive driving range for a vehicle at its price point. The Bolt EV is powered by a 150-kW electric motor producing 200 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque, delivering acceleration from zero to 60 mph in less than 7 seconds. Electricity gets stored in a 60-kWh lithium-ion flat battery pack that resides under the length of the Bolt’s floor. A 7.2 kW onboard charger is standard for charging from a 240-volt wall box and will provide 50 miles of range in about 2 hours. An available DC fast charging system will charge the battery to 90 miles of range in about 30 minutes.
Base MSRP: $33,210
Range: 84 miles
One of the smallest vehicles available in America, the subcompact 500 is great fun to drive, especially the electric-powered 500e. Power comes from an 83-kW (111 horsepower) electric motor that produces 147 lb-ft of torque. According to the U.S. EPA, the 500e can travel up to 84 miles between charges; however, Fiat expects that in city driving more than 100 miles is possible. The 500e features an electronic shifter with pushbutton transmission mode selector. The 6.6 kW onboard charging module will recharge the battery in less than 4 hours when connected to a Level 2 (220/240-volt) power source.
Honda Clarity Electric
Base MSRP: Lease Only
Range: 89 miles
The Honda Clarity Electric is one of three electrified vehicles that make up the Clarity family — the other two being the fuel-cell and plug-in hybrid versions. Currently sold in California and Oregon only, the Clarity Electric is powered by a 161-horsepower (120-kilowatt) electric motor producing 221 lb-ft of torque. The 25.5-kWh lithium-ion battery pack provides a range of 89 miles. The Clarity Electric can by fully charged in just over three hours at 240 volts — using DC fast charging it can reach an 80 percent charge in a quick 30 minutes. Like the other Clarity variants, the Clarity EV comes well equipped with the latest in entertainment, communications and safety technology.
Hyundai Ioniq Electric
Base MSRP: $29,815
Range: 124 miles
The electric version of Hyundai’s new Ioniq is the fuel-economy champ in America for the second year in a row, boasting 150 MPGe in the city. The economical small sedan features an 88-kW (118 horsepower) permanent magnet synchronous electric motor that generates 215 lb-ft of torque. With a 28-kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack, the Ioniq Electric can travel up to 124 miles on a full charge. Using a 100-kW fast charger, the car can be charged to 80 percent capacity in about 20 minutes and can be fully charged in 4 hours using a 240-volt power source. The Ioniq is available in either base or Limited trim and currently sold exclusively in California.
Hyundai Kona Electric
Base MSRP: $36,950
Range: 258 miles
Following the introduction of the stylish Kona crossover last year, Hyundai has introduced a pure-electric version. The Kona Electric features a powerful yet efficient electric drivetrain and a comfortable, roomy interior. The drivetrain consists of a 150-kW electric motor that produces 201 horsepower and 291 lb-ft of torque, and a high-voltage 64 kWh lithium-ion battery. Kona Electric uses a Level-II onboard charging system capable of a 7.2 kW rate of charge for rapid recharging. An 80 percent charge can be achieved in 54 minutes with a Level-III quick charge using the SAE-Combo charging port, while a 7.2 kW Level-II charger takes 9 hours and 35 minutes to reach a full charge. The Kona Electric features aerodynamic body enhancements and LED headlights, taillights and daytime running lights.
Base MSRP: $69,500
Range: 234 miles
The all-new Jaguar I-PACE is an entirely electric crossover that looks and feels like a Jaguar should, possessing excellent performance both on- and off-road. All I-PACE trims come well equipped with high levels of luxury as well as the latest high-tech safety features, including automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, rear traffic monitor, traffic-sign recognition and clear exit monitor. Power comes from dual permanent-magnet synchronous electric motors — one powering the front wheels, one powering the rears to create a permanent 4-wheel-drive system. Total output is 394 horsepower and 512 lb-ft of torque. Electric motors deliver peak torque immediately, which means the I-PACE can reach 60 mph from a standstill in a quick 4.5 seconds.
Kia Niro EV
Base MSRP: $38,500
Range: 239 miles
When Kia introduced the Niro hybrid a few years back, the company promised a plug-in hybrid and pure EV would be coming soon. The plug-in hybrid went on sale last year, and at last year’s L.A. Auto Show the all-electric Niro debuted. Offering the functionality of a typical compact crossover, the Niro EV utilizes a liquid-cooled 64kWh lithium-ion polymer battery stored under the floor so the cabin remains spacious. The Niro EV gets motivation from an electric motor that produces 201 horsepower and a strong 291 lb-ft of torque that comes on instantly for great acceleration. Since electric cars run silently, Kia has given the Niro EV an artificial sound described as a “techy whirring noise.” While this does make the Niro EV sound pretty cool, the noise is actually designed as a safety feature to alert pedestrians about the car’s presence.
Kia Soul EV
Base MSRP: $38,500
Range: 243 miles
Kia introduces an all-new Soul EV for 2020 with updated styling, new features and improved performance. More importantly, this updated EV gets a more powerful electric motor as well as a new liquid-cooled lithium-ion polymer 64-kWh battery pack that provides a great driving range between charges. With 201 horsepower and a plentiful 291 lb-ft of torque, the new Soul EV is quicker than the outgoing model, and the new independent rear suspension should improve the overall handling and driving dynamics. Advanced safety features such as forward collision avoidance and lane departure warning are standard, as are a 6-speaker audio system, a 10.25-inch color touchscreen display and Android Auto / Apple CarPlay.
Base MSRP: TBA
Range: 279 miles (estimate)
Mercedes-Benz introduced the EQ brand at the 2016 Paris Motor Show, announcing a line of electric vehicles in the coming years that would appear under this new brand. Now we know that the first of these vehicles will be arriving in 2020, and it is the all-new Mercedes-Benz EQC crossover SUV. The new Mercedes-Benz EQC will be powered by two electric motors — one at each axle. The unique electric all-wheel-drive system uses the two motors in different ways. The front motor is configured for efficiency in the low to medium load range, while the rear motor adds a level of sportiness. The two motors combine to produce a total 402 horsepower and 564 lb-ft of torque. As with other electric vehicles, the torque is available almost instantaneously, so the EQC will sprint to 60 mph in an estimated 4.9 seconds.
Base MSRP: $29,990
Range: 150–226 miles
The LEAF was one of the first mainstream electric vehicles sold in America when introduced in 2011, and last year the LEAF was all new. It received a fresh look including a roomier interior as well as better performance and efficiency. The Nissan LEAF is equipped with a high-response 110-kW AC synchronous electric motor producing 147 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque. The power supply is a new 40-kWh laminated lithium-ion battery consisting of 192 cells generating 33 percent more energy than the outgoing model. This gives LEAF a range of 150 miles, and with a DC fast charger a 30-minute charge will provide almost 90 miles of driving. Nissan has also added the LEAF PLUS, which gets a larger battery pack and a more powerful motor for better acceleration as well as extended range between charges.
Base MSRP: TBA
Range: 310 miles (estimate)
Porsche will be joining the electric fray later this year when it introduces the much-anticipated Taycan. This sleek electric 4-door is based on the Mission E concept (pictured) and is designed to drive like a Porsche should. The company hasn’t released much hard information about this new model, but Porsche has said that the Taycan should be able to sprint to 62 mph (100 km/h) in “considerably less than 3.5 seconds” and will have a range of more than 300 miles. With the proper charger, the Taycan will likely gain about 60 miles of range with about four minutes of charging. More information will become available when the production model makes its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show this fall.
Tesla Model 3
Base MSRP: $39,900
Range: 240–310 miles
The third model in the Tesla lineup, the Model 3 is more affordable than the two higher-end offerings from the American car company. With a bold level of standard equipment and sleek styling that befits the rest of the Tesla lineup, the more economical Model 3 is designed for high-volume sales. Although the base vehicle in the Tesla lineup, the Model 3 still comes well equipped with upscale features that include power heated front seats, a premium audio system, Bluetooth connectivity, docking stations for two smartphones and multiple USB ports. Performance of the Model 3 is quite impressive — this dual-motor all-wheel-drive sedan sprints to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds.
Tesla Model S
Base MSRP: $75,000
Range: 285–370 miles
A unique alt-fuel vehicle in the American marketplace, the Model S offers impressive performance and an impressive driving range in an attractive electric sedan. The Model S was the first Tesla to come to market and for many years stood alone as the only electric-powered luxury performance sedan on the market. Now one of three models offered by the innovative American car company, the Model S is available in configurations focused on efficiency or performance, the latter of which has the capability of reaching 60 mph in just 2.4 seconds when set in “Ludicrous” mode.
Tesla Model X
Base MSRP: $81,000
Range: 255–325 miles
Tesla’s SUV certainly stands out from the crowd in both style and capability, with impressive performance in both efficiency and acceleration. The Model X features two independently controlled electric motors for full-time all-wheel drive. Available in three different power levels, the Model X Standard Range is the most efficient according to the U.S. EPA. Even though the Standard Range Model X may have base-level power, it can still accelerate to 60 mph in less than 5 seconds. Slightly less efficient, the Model X Performance provides acceleration on par with most exotic sports cars. Featuring aerodynamic styling, innovative Falcon Wing doors and a versatile interior, the Model X is unique within the American crossover market.
Base MSRP: $30,495
Range: 125 miles
In the wake of the emissions scandal dubbed Dieselgate, Volkswagen AG made a corporate decision to move away from diesel powerplants and put greater emphasis on electric drive to power light-duty vehicles, with the e-Golf as its first offering. Introduced in 2015, the e-Golf received a major update for the 2017 model year with an improved battery and more power. The e-Golf features a 35.8 kWh lithium-ion battery that provides a 50 percent increase in range over the previous model. The electric motor produces 134 horsepower and 214 lb-ft of torque, allowing the e-Golf to accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 9.6 seconds with top speed of 93 mph. A 7.2 kW charger is standard for both SE and SEL Premium trims, which will charge the battery in less than six hours with a 240-volt charging station. The optional DC fast charging (standard on SEL Premium) will recharge to 80 percent in one hour at a DC fast-charging station.