The electric vehicle (EV) revolution is in full swing and a swathe of exciting models are lined up for launch in the US, so if the popular Chevrolet Equinox and its turbocharged four-cylinder engine aren’t to your liking, you need to go all-electric. From the Mini Electric to the ballistic Porsche Taycan, there is an EV available from $30,000 to over $150,000. It just depends on how much you want to spend and what your expectations are in terms of size, practicality, features, number of seats, and range. Considering that many Americans don’t drive farther than 50 miles per day, a city-runner EV doesn’t have to have a long-range. Adding range costs money, so people are often opting for an inexpensive EV for daily commuting, and renting a traditional car for longer drives.
With the huge charging infrastructure in the US now provided by multiple suppliers, not least of which are Tesla and Electrify America, charging your EV is becoming much less of an issue, even on an extended road trip. You can usually be on your way to your next stop in less than an hour – ideal for a lunch stop. With some careful planning, long-distance driving is entirely feasible, especially with the help of the automakers’ onboard software helping you to plan trips according to where the most suitable charging sites are.
The affordable EV
Miniscule city electric vehicles with very little power and performance can be had for as little as $5,000 in China, but such a tinny little box on wheels won’t suffice for the USA, and the most affordable one sold Stateside is the Mini Electric, with an MSRP starting at a smidge under $30,000. It only has a 110-mile range, but that is more than enough for most daily trips and it can be easily recharged overnight. The only other true competitor at the $30,000 price point is the Nissan Leaf, starting at just under $32k for the S trim with a combined electric MPG rating of 111 MPGe. Its electric motor develops 147 horsepower and it has an EPA range of 149 miles.
At upwards of $36k, the Chevrolet Bolt EV makes a very compelling case for itself, offering a solid 200 hp and an expected range of almost 260 miles, well over double the Mini’s. However, a new model arrives this summer, so you might be able to haggle for a better price on the old one. It has a crossover sibling, the Bolt EUV, which is slightly more expensive. However, it is hard to argue against the Tesla Model 3 Standard at around $37k if your budget stretches that far.
The performance EV
Performance EVs have gained loads of respect for their off-the-line capabilities, too. The latest Tesla Model S Plaid+ is claimed to catapult to 60 mph in under two seconds. This instant torque delivery of an EV makes for a level of urgency that used to be the preserve of supercars. With EV hypercars from brands such as Nio, Rimac, Pininfarina, and Lotus now producing up to 2,000 hp, the EV has pole-vaulted past even the fasted ICE hypercars in accelerative prowess.
The temptation seemed too strong for Porsche and with the VW Group’s investment into EVs besting the rest of the industry at over $30 billion, Porsche launched their first EV as a four-door sedan. It is a true Porsche and a sports car at heart, and although it cannot outrun a Model S, it has thoroughbred sports-car handling and a Porsche feel that the Tesla cannot match. Its ability to run the Model S Performance close in a straight line with less power and more weight has to do with its innovative two-speed gearbox on the rear motor, providing both start-up and high-speed gears.
Advantages of EV motoring
There are already many advantages to driving an EV and this list will definitely expand as the technology matures and become more commonplace.
- No filling stations. If you don’t drain your battery during daily commuting, you can top it up overnight with ease with a home charger, in the safety of your garage. You will never visit a filling station again. For longer trips, an EV is fine provided you take some time to do proper planning around the charging stations en route. Tesla currently has the best charging network in the US, for the record.
- Instant torque. EVs deliver instant punch without a piston engine having to take a breath or a gearbox having to kick down a gear. In fact, you’ll be through a gap in traffic before a gas-fed sports car will know which way you went.
- They’re practical. With a flat floor and no engine, interior space is optimized and there are usually both front and back trunks for your cargo.
- Environmentally friendly. EVs’ dust-to-dust cost comparison leaves ICE cars’ in the, er, dust. And while the combustion-powered car pollutes through its tailpipe right where you live, an EV emits zero emissions and breaks even with a regular car after around 17,000 miles and then pulls ahead. As battery tech improves and the use of rare-earth metals like cobalt is reduced, batteries get greener. They are recyclable too.
- They’re getting cheaper. As economies of scale increase, EVs will become cheaper and cheaper. Recently, the elusive battery cost of $100 per kWh was finally reached.
That’s the great thing about EVs. Since we’re at the beginning of the big EV wave and volumes are starting to increase, costs are continually decreasing. Whereas regular cars have reached their zenith in terms of cost-effectiveness and combustion efficiency, EVs are getting cheaper and greener all the time. This is only the beginning.
Brave new world
Whether you’re in the market for a Nissan Leaf or a Porsche Taycan Turbo S, EV motoring is likely to prove addictive, especially once you go for that test drive. Revel in the silent whine of the electric motor and its instant response and charge it overnight at home. If we review the facts, there is no turning back from the EV revolution, although Porsche thinks it can still keep the ICE alive with their development of environmentally neutral synthetic fuels. Even if they do, the fuel won’t come cheap. EVs offer everything our new world needs, even for the gearheads among us.