Between the electric car models that are just arriving on the US market and the ones that will likely hit the market by the end of 2016, we have an exciting year ahead. Below are 11 electric cars that I think will light up 2016 (or 13 if you count cars in a particular way).
Tesla Model X
The Tesla Model X is an obvious inclusion, of course. Founders Series deliveries began months ago, but Signature Series deliveries began just before Christmas, production has just started ramping up, and normal Production Series Xs will first be delivered in 2016.
The X is an SUV that can (somehow) accelerate to 60 mph in as quick as 3.2 seconds — that’s quicker than nearly every production car model of any type or year, and is quicker than any production SUV in history. The sports car acceleration is matched with seating for up to 7 adults, falcon-wing doors that make exit and entry easy (and that look cool as heck), a supersplendulous windshield that is larger than the windshields in every other production car in the world. There are a lot of other cool bells & whistles, too.
(See our Tesla Model X archives for more.)
It may not be the Tesla Model X, but the Chevy Bolt may be the most highly anticipated electric car hitting the market in the coming year. It doesn’t have all of the super cool features of the Model X, but it will be the first long-range, affordable (~$30,000 after the $7,500 US federal tax credit), fully electric car.
With decent looks, seating for 5, and all of the wonderful benefits of electric driving, the Bolt should be a big hit. The production version of the Bolt is supposed to be shown in a few days at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Our own Kyle Field will be there reporting on the launch from the ground.
(See our Chevy Bolt archives for more.)
2016 Chevy Volt & 2017 Chevy Volt
The 2016 Chevy Volt just started hitting dealerships in select states. For various reasons, a slightly modified 2017 Chevy Volt will be launched early in 2016. Either way, this 2nd-generation extended-range electric vehicle (with 53 miles of electric range and gasoline backup) is a wicked good buy for anyone looking for an electric car in the ~$30,000 price range (or anyone looking for a car of any sort in the $20,000 and above price range — the Volt is that much better than a gasoline car).
The Volt is essentially the best car on the market offering the benefits of electric driving + gasoline backup for people who regularly have to travel ~100 miles or more between charges. It will find a lot of buyers.
(See our Chevy Volt archives for more.)
Volvo XC90 T8
Speaking of plug-in cars with gas backups, the Volvo XC90 T8 is a stunner of a vehicle. This premium-class SUV doesn’t have as much electric range as I’d like, but it has enough for many people’s daily needs… and it’s a beautiful, luxurious, stately SUV. The Volvo XC90 T8 seats 7 and accelerates to 60 mph in 5.8, according to Volvo. The Volvo XC90 T8 actually won the “Stuff Gadget Awards 2015 Car of the Year” award from the popular UK gadget magazine Stuff. With a starting price of $68,000, it’s hard to see people not just extending themselves a bit more for a Tesla Model X, but the XC90 T8 does have some qualities the X doesn’t have that may appeal to a decent subset of premium SUV buyers.
Initial imports of the SUV were held up at US ports for some reason, but the SUV just started getting delivered over on North American shores. We’ll have to see how many of these plug-in hybrid electric SUVs hit US garages, but I imagine every one will help advance the plug-in car cause. (By the way, if Volvo wants to gift me one of these to test out over the long term, I’d be happy to offer up my parking spot as a sacrifice.)
(See our Volvo XC90 T8 archives for more.)
Faraday Future is launching a mysterious electric car at CES 2016 that is apparently going to be on the cutting edge of autonomous driving and connected vehicles. Backed by a Chinese billionaire intent on tackling air pollution and global warming while pioneering the coolest new tech on the planet, Faraday Future looks serious about its… future. In fact, $1 billion is reportedly being invested in a new factory for the company in Nevada.
(See our Faraday Future archives for more.)
The Hyundai IONIQ is supposed to be something like a “Prius fighter.” We don’t care much for the conventional hybrid version of this coming Hyundai, but there are supposed to be plug-in hybrid and fully electric versions of the IONIQ, which we think is pretty cool. If the price and the specs are right, and Hyundai is serious about selling this car widely, the IONIQ could end up being one of the standout EVs of the year. We’ll see…
(See our Hyundai IONIQ archives for more.)
Volvo S90 T8
The coming Volvo S90 looks like a luxurious sedan that hits all the right buttons. Although there won’t be a fully electric version of the S90, there will be a plug-in hybrid electric version (a T8, as Volvo labels these). The S90 will be a semi-autonomous driving pioneer, according to Volvo. Furthermore, the S90 will have “one of the most luxuriously appointed interiors and connected infotainment systems in the large sedan segment.” I wouldn’t mind test driving one of these for a month.
(See our Volvo S90 archives for more.)
2016 Nissan LEAF & 2017 Nissan LEAF
It may not be a sexy new entry, but the Nissan LEAF an EV veteran that leads historical EV sales, and it has just raised the bar for the affordable EV segment. The 2016 Nissan LEAF offers up to 107 miles of rated range, which is quite a bit more than every other non-Tesla fully electric car on the market. The 2017 LEAF is likely to increase in range yet again. Some are assuming Nissan will somehow bump the range up to 200+ miles, but the leak we received was that it would be ~130 miles. We’ll see.
(See our Nissan LEAF archives for more.)
BMW has been teasing the i5 electric car for awhile. It’s quite unclear what the design of the i5 will be (a sporty sedan? a crossover/SUV?), but we’re expecting an unveiling in 2016, and if BMW is aggressive enough, maybe it could even put the i5 on sale before the end of the year. It would certainly help the BMW brand to put another great fully electric car out there, to supplement the BMW i3 and all of the compromise plug-in hybrids it now has on the market or coming soon.
(See our BMW i5 archives for more.)
Aston Martin Electric Rapide?
Aston Martin, with Andy Palmer (formerly of Nissan) at the helm, is reportedly looking to unveil a fully electric Rapide with 200+ miles of range. The car is unlikely to hit the market in 2016, but it seems to be pretty far along in development, as Aston Martin and LeTV have apparently signed a deal to have LeTV provide cutting-edge infotainment and connectivity.
With Tesla announcing that a non-German European automaker is going to partner with Tesla to use its Supercharger network, many are assuming that company is Aston Martin. Of course, it could be others — Renault, Fiat, Volvo, Jaguar… — but none of the others seem to click, either not having a deep EV commitment or seemingly being committed to a different charging standard.
(See our Aston Martin archives for more.)
Tesla Model 3
Ah, yes, we have to include the Tesla Model 3. The Model 3 isn’t supposed to hit the market until 2017, but a big unveiling is planned for March 2016, and it’s widely expected reservations will start then as well. The Model 3 is expected to be one of the most pivotal EVs in the history of EVs (and maybe the most pivotal), as it will be a long-range, affordable, fully electric car with Supercharger access and great acceleration, and all of the brand excitement that comes with a Tesla.
While the Chevy Bolt is supposed to come out approximately one year earlier for a similar price and with a similar range, it won’t have access to Tesla’s Supercharger network (a big error on GM’s part, from my perspective) or the brand excitement that Tesla has generated.
The Tesla Model 3 is expected to be something like the Ford Model T of the electric car market… but with a lot more bells and whistles, and acceleration to make a monkey drool.
(See our Tesla Model 3 archives for more.)
Aside from the 11–13 electric car models above, we expect a number of new electric concept cars to be revealed in 2016, and maybe even produced in 2016 — including one or more from Volkswagen, from Ford, from Atieva, from BMW, from Nissan (x two), and from Apple, from Google, and from others. 2016 should be an exciting year for EVs, so stay tuned!