It has been a while since we reviewed any electric vehicles, and there are plenty more to choose from now in the US, although still not as many as those in Europe or China have to select from.
We’re going to slice the market into three segments, the upper end for those over $100,000 (even if they have entry level models under that price), a mid range segment for the $50,000+, and a lower band for everything under that. While electric vehicles are still not what most would describe as affordable, and used ones are holding their values meaning the second hand market is also higher than comparable ICE vehicles, there are deals to be had, especially if you are open to leasing rather than buying.
At the top end of the market (excluding limited edition hypercars like the Rimac Nevera), there are, of course, the Tesla Model S and X; for former with its new Plaid edition setting speed and acceleration records for a production car while at the same time being a respectable, if relatively large family car. They are no longer alone in this segment however, with Porsche’s Taycan, and Audi’s eTron GT models sitting in a similar price bracket (and extending higher).
The Tesla Model S Plaid will set you back an estimated $1700/month on a lease deal (around $12,000 due at signing, and up to 10,000 miles per year on a 3 year lease). The Taycan 4S, with a similar MSRP comes in a little less at about $1350/month today (there are better deals to be had when dealers have some in their inventory they want to clear). As with all car sales outside of Tesla, you can negotiate the sale price of the vehicle. The negotiated price directly affects your lease payment, so this is well worth doing. The Audi is very similar to the Taycan price.
What else is coming in this segment?
The most obvious would be the Mercedes EQS, already on sale in Europe. The brand has been slow to launch EVs in the US market, and the EQS is not expected to be delivered here until the middle of 2022, putting it several years behind Porsche and Audi, and over a decade behind Tesla.
BMW have their electric i7 and possibly an all electric version of the i8, both of which would likely fall into this category, but there is not even an announcement date for those yet, let alone a delivery date.
From US manufacturers, there is the Hummer EV, but little else in this segment (they are focusing their efforts on other segments it seems).
The mid range is a bit more crowded as most manufacturers seem to be seeing this as the sweet spot for EV early adopters. Cars in this segment include the Audi eTron, and eTron Sportback, the Jaguar iPace, Tesla Model Y, Volvo’s XC40 Recharge and the Polestar 2.
The segment is exclusively crossover/SUV type vehicles, globally the best selling style of vehicle currently, but also an easier platform for electric vehicles, allowing the battery to fill the entire space under the floor.
What’s Coming Soon?
The upcoming vehicles in this segment are mostly following the same pattern as well with more crossover offerings from Audi as well as new ones from the likes of Cadillac (Lyriq), Mercedes (EQB and EQC maybe) and BMW (iX3 and i4).
At the lower end there is more choice, though again a lot of the crossover / small SUV style of vehicle appears here. Also in this segment, are the multi-fuel vehicles where the electric version is available alongside ICE and hybrid versions.
The Tesla Model 3 is clearly the leader of the pack here, though its styling is not to everybody’s taste. That has left gaps for others to fill. That includes new offerings from VW (ID.4), Ford (Mustang Mach E and F150 Lightning pickup) and Mini as well as older ones from Nissan (Leaf), Hyundai (Ioniq and Kona) and Kia (Niro EV and Soul), Chevrolet (Bolt, and now Bolt EUV) and BMW (i3).
Unlike the mid range segment, there is a good variety of vehicle styles in this group, including some with moderate towing capability and smaller city cars. Many of these have also been on the market long enough to have used options available (along with a few discontinued ones like the Mercedes B Class EV).
What’s coming soon?
Already launched in Europe, the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and its cousin the Kia EV6 are both likely to fall in this price range for the most part and both have been getting a lot of positive reviews from Europe, both from journalists and, in the case of the Ioniq 5 which, new owners who have taken delivery recently. There may be also be offerings from BMW and Audi at the upper end of this segment, as well as more offerings from US manufacturers, including more pickup trucks following in the footsteps of Ford with their electric F150 announced earlier this year.
Oddly, the new Fiat 500e will not be coming to the US, despite the earlier version only being available in some US states. Likewise, Homda have not announced any plans to bring their electric Honda E to the US now. Honda also discontinued the Clarity electric, and have announced the end of life for fuel cell and PHEV versions too. Also notably absent from the EV list is Toyota who after pioneering electrification with their hybrids have been resistant to moving into full EVs (and were even slow to move to PHEVs insisting that not plugging in was an advantage – just not for the climate or the air we breathe).
While the high price cars like the Taycan, Tesla Model S and Audi eTron GT continue to get headlines, at the more affordable end of the market there is more and more choice. The MSRP of these vehicles is still higher than ICE equivalents, though that difference is shrinking, the depreciation seems to be less and the running costs are a lot less. In some cases, like the ID.4, they come with three years free charging. If you get close to the typical 10K miles/year included in a lease, and assume a generous 30mpg on an ICE SUV, that is worth over $4,000 here in California over the three years. Of course, even if you paid for that charging at home in California, you would save more than $2000 compared to the ICE option.
Service costs are also lower. The Taycan, for example, only needs a trip to the dealer every two years; Teslas do not even have a fixed schedule, their cars detect when they need service.