Ironically, the very first electric car in modern history could go over 200 miles on a charge, but today’s EV buyers are eagerly awaiting this benchmark as though facing a new frontier.
And for all intents and purposes, it really is. While the 2008 Tesla Roadster could travel so far and much farther when nursed, it cost more than triple today’s low-30s average new car price, but at last the 200-mile EVs for the rest of us are coming.
Time will tell what this will do to expand the EV acceptance rate, but advocates are hoping it will spur greater synergies yet needed. After five years since the launch of the mainstream-oriented Nissan Leaf, the EV market share is under 0.5 percent in the U.S. with just 12 cars on offer, and some only in limited markets.
Several reasons are responsible for where things are today, but one often unspoken but nevertheless unconsciously still present reality for consumers is most never like to think they are paying more to get less. When people buy something new, they usually want more of everything – or at least enough to make them feel good about what they are doing. With cheap gas and yet-limited selection muddying the buying perception waters, most people will see more range as a plus.
Today’s high $20,000 to low $40,000s EVs with sub-100 mile range are about to be challenged by ones around the same price with more than double the range, and at last, consumer desire for one-upmanship in a purchase can be satisfied with “second generation” level EVs.
But to be clear, excluding Tesla’s S and X which are already available from the mid $70,000s, low $80,000s and up, at this point there’s only a handful of cars actually known to be on track for the 200-plus club.
What’s more, while affordable choices are pending, several are Tesla expensive if not more, so that does nothing for average consumers waiting patiently for 2008-era performance levels to trickle down to them.
The good news may be with so many new cars setting a new standard, the dam may break with everyone else forced to follow suit or fall behind.
Following is a run down of production-penidng all-electric cars with at least 200 miles range.
2017 Chevy Bolt
Probably needing no introduction, we’ll do so anyway in case you’re just tuning in. General Motors developed this $37,500 “compact crossover” – AKA nicely proportioned hatchback – in response to Tesla’s pending 200 mile EV proposed to cost $35,000.
GM surreptitiously built it in Australia and nearly had a surprise announcement January 2015 alongside the 2016 Chevy Volt.
Poised to give 200-plus miles – pending EPA certification – from its 60-kwh battery, the Bolt is to cost under $30,000 after federal tax credit – for as long as it lasts – and state incentives as available could drive it lower
Zero-to-60 mph time is around 7 seconds, seating is for five for the front-wheel drive car, and GM says the roomy car will sell in all 50 states with no limit known on unit volume availability.
The Bolt is due to begin production late this year and first examples could be in buyers hands late this year or early next.
2018 Tesla Model 3
It’s been promised for a few years now, and as the original goad to all others, Tesla’s 200-plus mile Model 3 is due to be revealed March 31.
This is the third stage of Tesla’s plan leading toward introduction of mass-market EVs to change the world, and this is the first of those “volume” level cars, and is due to indeed start at $35,000.
It too would be eligible for the $7,500 credit plus state incentives, but if it gets here as soon as late 2017 as Tesla projects, the company may have used up most or all of its 200,000 unit sales eligible for the federal credit, unless Congress extends the rule.
What one gets for $35,000 is also open to conjecture. The Model 3 is reportedly to be 20-percent smaller than a large-class Model S, a sedan, and rear-wheel drive. It may likely be offered in upper level trims and nicer examples including AWD models might be equal or above the originally proposed, but later canceled Model S 40-kwh price of just under $50,000 after federal credit.
We shall see.
2017 Opel Ampera-e
This is the Chevy Bolt rebadged for GM’s German Opel brand. A Vauxhall variant may also be introduced, but has not yet that we’ve seen.
All specifications should be on par with the Bolt with styling done differently somewhat to distinguish the unique brand identity.
Release date, price and launch markets have yet to be announced.
2018 Nissan Leaf
Whether the second-generation Leaf will be a 2018 model as some believe, or a 2017 as others suggest it probably ought to be, is unknown, but Nissan is on track for a 200-plus-mile range Leaf.
It’s ironic in a way as Nissan was first to market with a relatively affordable mass-market EV in December 2010. The Leaf started with 75 miles, rose in 2013 to 84, and this year as a stop-gap measure, its third generation 30-kwh battery is good for 107 under EPA rules.
The irony continues in that Nissan since last 2014 has repeatedly said it has a fourth-generation battery waiting in the wings that could provide 200-plus real-world miles that would soon make “range anxiety” a non-issue, so why is it waiting?
Nissan has not said, but the gen-one Leaf is being nursed along with minor updates and now that the Bolt and Model 3 are due, Nissan may not reach sales levels it did in 2014 when over 30,000 were sold just in the U.S.
If Nissan waits until 2018 model year, the Leaf will have ridden out the bulk of the whole decade when Nissan is run by Carlos Ghosn, the most bullish pro-EV CEO other than Tesla’s Elon Musk.
In any event, the new Leaf is to be more “mainstream” looking, the frog eye look may be toned down, and every indicator is Nissan will be here sooner or later with a bona fide alternative to a base Model 3 or Bolt.
2019 Audi Q6 Crossover
A “300” mile range competitor to Tesla’s Model X, Audi’s battery electric version of its Q6 crossover could be here by early 2018.
The Q6 is also to be made in plug-in hybrid and fuel cell versions, but the pure EV is one of many electrified cars the VW Group is developing to improve its fleet economy scores.
Audi announced last August it will be collaborating Korean-based LG Chem and Samsung SDI to build its battery.
Outright performance capability for the people mover probably won’t be as quick as the most potent Tesla, but expect an opulently appointed upscale German experience with price tag to match.
2017 Audi R8 e-tron
Even more exclusive, the pending R8 e-tron boasts 456 horsepower, 679 pounds-feet of torque, and Audi says it will hit 62 mph in just 3.9 seconds. Top speed is limited to 155 mph.
Electric range is to be “280” miles with fast charge in just 2 hours, says Audi.
The company has also used this vehicle to demonstrate self-driving tech which is due ultimately as a production option.
2018 Aston Martin RapidE
To be co-developed between Chinese consumer electronics giant LeEco and the storied maker of Bond cars, the RapidE is Aston’s first EV.
The vehicle will offer around 800 horsepower, 200-mile range and feature all-wheel drive and is being positioned as a Tesla fighter – and then some.
Because Aston Martin has a sterling reputation – if not a profitable one since 2010 – the company will position the vehicle higher than a Model S.
Undoubtedly it will feature bleeding-edge tech from its new partners who are also backing Faraday Future in Silicon Valley, plus Aston’s usual impeccable attention to detail and finery in automotive materials and design.
Price has been projected to come in between $200,000 and $250,000.
What does this mean for mainstream buyers? Probably not much except for a prestige factor imbued upon EVs, a spurring of others to follow, and a trickle down to cars regular people can afford.
2020 Porsche Mission E
Another elite car, Porsche may re-name the car based upon its Mission E concept but it is being developed for production by end of this decade.
The sports sedan may be late to the EV party, but it is aiming for that moving target which is Tesla’s Model S.
In concept form, Porsche’s all-wheel-drive, four-wheel-steering EV serves up 600 horsepower, 0-62 mph time of 3.5 seconds, 200 km/h in under 12 seconds, and Porsche says it can lap the Nurburgring Nordschleife in under 8 minutes.
Range on the EU NEDC cycle is 500 km (310 miles) which is on par with Tesla’s EU number.
Seeking to top Tesla in other ways, the Porsche concept recharges its 800-volt drive system in just 15 minutes to 80-percent charge.
Price is to be determined.
Unclear is what will happen when the price-for-range level is raised significantly by mass-market cars from Chevy, Tesla, and Nissan.
Michigan analyst Alan Baum projects cars that will be forced to follow suit to stay competitive include the BMW i3 and Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric.
BMW has already been reported to have tweaks in the works to increase range to 124 miles from its i3, and Baum has penciled in 2018 for the M-B to get a range boost to stay competitive as well.
Today these sub-100 miles BEVs starting in the low 40s are nice, but will look like yesterday’s goods in a couple years if nothing is done – not so good for ostensibly upscale vehicles.
Also murky are the futures for cars like the Kia Soul EV for which its maker is cautiously expanding the market, and which is otherwise a fine converted EV.
It’s anyone’s guess also regarding the VW e-Golf, Fiat 500e, products from Ford and we shall see what the EV market looks like say, by late 2017.
In any case, the bar has been raised, and a consumer tendency that people generally want more of everything for the same price – that had in ways been suspended during the EV market’s first half decade – may get some relief.