Electric cars we can expect soon
Demand for electrified cars has surged in the last four years, with registrations increasing from around 3500 in 2013 to almost 160,000 by the end of 2018. However, they still represented a tiny proportion of the UK car market – and the majority of that was plug-in hybrids rather than fully electric models.
One of the main reasons for this is that fully electric cars have traditionally had quite a limited range between charges, making them unsuitable for long journeys. However, that’s no longer the case, and the best are now fantastic all-rounders; indeed, at the 2019 What Car? Awards, the Kia e-Niro became the first-ever fully electric model to be named overall Car of the Year.
That’s the good news if you like the idea of going green and reducing your motoring costs, while the even better news is that a host of manufacturers are preparing to launch new models that further push the boundaries of style, range and technology. Here we take a look at what’s coming when, starting with the Honda E.
1. Honda E
Meet the most exciting upcoming model of 2019 – as crowned by What Car? readers at our most recent awards, where it garnered almost eight times as many votes as the runner-up.
The Honda E is a rival to the BMW i3 and Renault Zoe, and keeps the modern, minimalist styling of the 2017 Urban EV concept on which it’s based. However, it gains rear doors to aid practicality.
The door handles sit flush with the body and pop out only when needed – much like those on the Jaguar I-Pace. And the prototype version (pictured) even eschews traditional door mirrors for cameras that show rear-view images on small screens placed in each corner of the dashboard.
Indeed, much of the original Urban EV’s futuristic interior remains, including dual 12.0in infotainment screens alongside a digital instrument panel. The screens are surrounded by wood trim, with multiple charging points and connectivity below for smartphones.
The presence of an HDMI connection point suggests at least one of the infotainment screens will be able to play videos. Meanwhile, other luxuries include heated front seats, a digital rear-view mirror, and a voice-controlled personal assistant.
The Honda E can travel for up to 125 miles on the latest WLTP test cycle, with power coming from a single electric motor mounted at the rear of the car.
While the E’s range is less than some other mainstream electric cars, Honda considers it enough for city dwellers, who are its target market. By comparison, the i3 has an official range of 193 miles and the Zoe 186 miles, although they returned 121 miles and 146 miles respectively in our Real Range test.
Charging the E will take just 30 minutes using the latest rapid chargers, although that time will increase significantly if you use a less powerful wall-mounted charging point at home or an on-street charger. The car’s charging port is hidden just beneath an illuminated Honda logo in the car’s front grille. Our first drive in a late-stage E prototype revealed that this electric Honda certainly feels nimble on city streets.
So, how much will it cost? Prices have yet to be set, but officials say both affordability and added value will be key, citing the success of Apple products worldwide. We expect prices to start at around £30,000, pitching the Honda E in between the Zoe and the i3. However, all-electric cars qualify for a £3500 government grant, which will lower that price further.
Plus, the E will be exempt from road tax as well as certain big cities’ emissions and congestion charges.
The E is built on an all-new electric car platform, opening the door for more electric cars from Honda to follow in its footsteps – if it’s a sales success. First up will be small sports car that takes inspiration from the two-seat Sports EV concept shown in 2017. A small electric SUV is also thought to be among Honda’s plans. Honda says it has so far has more than 9000 expressions of interest from UK customers.
2. Mercedes EQC
On sale Summer 2019
The EQC is the first Mercedes-badged car to come from the firm’s electric EQ sub-brand and is loosely based on the same underpinnings as the GLC, but with bodywork that makes it significantly longer and lower. Its design has been toned down only a little compared with the EQ concept car that first showcased Mercedes’ electric ambitions in 2016.
The EQC is powered by two electric motors – one on the front axle and another at the rear – that together put out 402bhp and 564lb ft of torque.
As a result, the EQC can sprint from 0-62mph in a claimed 5.1sec – slightly slower than the rival Jaguar I-Pace can manage, largely because the EQC weighs significantly more (2425kg vs 2133kg).
The EQC has an official range of 249 miles, based on the new WLTP test, again falling short of the I-Pace’s official 292 miles. The car can be recharged to 80% of capacity in about 40 minutes via a rapid charger of the kind you’ll find at most motorway service stations.
Inside, the EQC adopts the same widescreen digital displays as the latest A-Class, one of which is devoted to Mercedes’ MBUX infotainment system. There are a number of EQ-specific enhancements, too, such as graphics to show energy flow, remaining range and charging status.
With prices starting from £65,720, the EQC is competitive with the I-Pace and appear a comparative bargain next to the Tesla Model X, which starts at around £75,500. You can read our full review of the EQC here.
Following the EQC, Mercedes plans to add up to 10 all-electric models to its line-up by 2025 – including electric alternatives to the A-Class and S-Class.
3. Mini Electric
On sale March 2020
Remember the Mini E? That fully electric version of the Mini hatchback was built in 2008, with development cars trialled in several major cities. At the time, it seemed like a battery-powered Mini you could buy was only months away from showrooms, but 10 years later we’re still waiting. Not for much longer, though, because the Mini Electric is arriving next year.
One of the main drawbacks of the old Mini E was that the rear seats had to be removed to accommodate the battery pack. However, battery technology has come a long way in the past 10 years, and the new Mini Electric is a proper four-seater, with exactly the same boot space as the regular Mini hatch.
Mini showed a concept version of the Mini Electric at the Frankfurt motor show in 2017, and while the production model doesn’t get the concept’s dramatic bodykit, it does retain the concept’s closed front grille, distinctive alloy wheels and yellow trim highlights – the latter two you can remove if you wish, so that your Mini doesn’t look all that different to the regular car.
Although the range is still to be confirmed, it’s likely to be around 192 miles. Initially, it will be offered only as a three-door hatchback. However, if it proves popular, electric versions of other Minis could well follow.
The Mini Electric gets a 33kWh battery pack and single 181bhp electric motor. The car’s range is 144 miles on the latest WLTP tests – more than the Honda E, but less than rivals including Vauxhall’s upcoming all-electric Corsa.
Prices for the Mini Electric start from £27,900, but the government’s £3500 electric vehicle grant takes that down to £24,400, which is less than the price of a petrol-engined Mini Cooper S.
4. Porsche Taycan
On sale Early 2020
Most of the high-end electric cars on sale or coming soon are styled to look like SUVs, but Porsche is going a different way, building a four-wheel-drive, four-door coupé powered by two electric motors.
Called the Taycan, it’s said to produce more than 592bhp and blast from 0-62mph in less than 3.5sec – about a second behind the range-topping Tesla Model S P100D but more than 0.5sec faster than the 100D. The 310-mile range of the Taycan means it will have one of the longest ranges of any electric car.
Given the car’s exterior styling and four-seat interior, you might assume that it will be closer to the Panamera than the 911 in terms of the way it drives. However, the Taycan’s floor-mounted batteries should give it a lower centre of gravity than either of these conventionally powered Porsches and, as a result, potentially improve handling.
The car’s styling will be revealed at the Frankfurt motor show in September, but will borrow plenty of cues from 2015’s Porsche Mission E concept car.
Porsche also plans to give the Taycan Level 4 autonomous driving technology; that equates to self-driving in nearly all situations, with driver attention not always required. “There are situations in traffic jams where you will be able to read a newspaper,” Porsche chairman Oliver Blume explained, “but our customers take pleasure from driving and this will remain.”
The name ‘Taycan’ translates loosely as ‘lively, young horse’ – a nod to Porsche’s badge, which has featured a leaping horse since 1952.
The German brand revealed a more rugged version of the Taycan at the Geneva motor show last March. This Mission E Cross Turismo concept is based on the same platform as the Taycan but features a raised ride height and an estate-style body. It’s likely to follow the regular Taycan into production in 2022.
5. Vauxhall Corsa-e
On sale Early 2020
Vauxhall sees the electric variant as so important to the Corsa’s future that it has chosen to reveal it ahead of the combustion-engined models.
Called the Corsa-e, it uses a 134bhp motor and a 50kWh lithium ion battery that’s good for a range of 211 miles between charges on the official WLTP test cycle. That matches the figure of its sister car, the Peugeot e-208 (due to go on sale around the same time), and compares favourably with today’s Renault Zoe, which manages just 188 miles. Expect prices to start from around £22,000.
6. BMW iX3
On sale Late 2019
Like today’s Audi E-tron and Jaguar I-Pace, the BMW iX3 has a motor on each axle, giving it four-wheel drive. Aesthetically, it stands out from other X3 models by dint of its closed-off grille and smoother bodywork with blue accents.
An anticipated official range of 249 miles matches exactly what the E-tron manages, while prices are predicted to start at £56,000.
7. Jaguar XJ
On sale 2020
While today’s XJ is a fairly conventional luxury saloon, next year’s replacement will be exclusively sold as an electric car, making it a direct rival to the Tesla Model S and the Porsche Taycan.
The new XJ will also switch from a four-door layout to a five-door one, potentially boosting practicality. Powered by two electric motors driving all four wheels, it will serve as a technological showcase for Jaguar.
8. Audi E-tron Sportback
On sale 2020
With the regular Audi E-tron now on sale, Audi is looking to follow it up with a coupé-like Sportback version, previewed by 2017’s Elaine concept.
It uses the same 402bhp dual-motor powertrain as the E-tron and should deliver a range of up to 250 miles. Plus, like the E-tron, the Sportback will be able to control its own acceleration, braking and steering in certain situations.
9. Maserati Alfieri
On sale 2020
The conventionally powered version of the Maserati Alfieri sports car is due to go on sale next year after an unveiling at March’s Geneva motor show, and one year later it will be followed up by an all-electric version. The electric Alfieri will use three electric motors, have four-wheel drive and an energy-dense battery pack. A plug-in hybrid version of the Alfiei is also on the cards.
10. Tesla Model 3
On sale Summer 2019
Tesla’s smallest and cheapest car to date is an electric rival for executive saloons such as the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series.
Prices start from £38,900 in the UK, and our review suggests that it’s both engaging to drive and practical enough for most families. However, unlike Model S and Model X owners, those who buy a Model 3 won’t have any free access to Tesla’s Superchargers.
11. BMW Vision iNext
On sale 2021
About the same size as the X5 SUV, the Vision iNext (although it won’t have that name when it goes on sale) is said to be capable of level three autonomy – meaning that, in certain situations such as on the motorway, drivers won’t need to pay attention to what the car is doing.
The concept features super-slim LED headlights, a large central grille and bodywork designed to channel air efficiently around the car. You can expect most of its styling to be toned down for production, but the oversized grille could well make it on to the finished car.
Inside, the Vision iNext isn’t as pod-like as many other autonomous concepts, retaining a steering wheel should the driver choose to take charge of the car. Indeed, BMW officials have said the company’s cars will always include a steering wheel.
The Vision iNext can travel for around 380 miles on a single charge. Drivers can choose between Boost and Ease modes, with the former allowing the Vision iNext to be driven like a normal car. When Ease mode is engaged, however, the steering wheel retracts slightly and the infotainment displays show places of interest near to the car.
There aren’t any other visible control surfaces inside the concept; BMW says this is because it might be possible to integrate controls into wooden or cloth surfaces in the future. For example, in autonomous mode, the driver can make inputs directly into the wooden centre console to control things like the stereo.
The production model will be part of a larger family of i-branded cars from BMW. The company says it plans to sell 25 models with electrified powertrains (which can include hybrids and plug-in hybrids as well as fully electric cars) by 2025. Of those, 12 will be fully electric.
12. Volkswagen ID 3
On sale Summer 2020
Volkswagen is no stranger to electric vehicles, but the new ID 3 hatchback will be the brand’s first car to have been designed as an EV from the outset – as opposed to the e-Golf and e-Up, which are electrified variants of existing cars.
With styling that will stay true to the futuristic concept of 2016 in all but details, the ID takes the form of a five-door family hatchback.
The more powerful of the two electric motors you can choose develops a lively 201bhp, and the ID 3 will be available with three sizes of battery. The biggest battery gives you a range of 341 miles, the mid-range option (which VW expects most buyers to go for) grants 260 miles, and the smallest battery 205 miles. You can find out how late-stage prototype versions of the ID 3 drive with our early review.
The batteries can be recharged to 80% of capacity within 30 minutes, using the fastest charging points found at motorway service stations. The ID is longer, taller and slightly wider than the Golf. Clever packaging is said to give the ID generous interior space as well as a tight turning circle, thanks to its rear-mounted motor. It will also feature an advanced augmented reality infotainment system, which can do things like project instructions from the sat-nav directly onto the windscreen.
Pricing has yet to be revealed, but we’d expect prices to start at around £35,000. Don’t forget, either, that as a purely electric car the ID 3 benefits from the government’s £3500 electric vehicle grant.
13. Audi E-tron GT
On sale: 2021
After the E-tron and E-tron Sportback, the next phase of Audi’s electric car plan is the E-tron GT, a four-door coupé that will go on sale in 2021.
Unveiled in concept car form at the Los Angeles motor show last November, it is about the same size as the A7 luxury car and will be the flagship model of Audi’s electric line-up. In concept form, it sits on 22in alloy wheels.
Power comes from two electric motors – one on each axle, giving the E-tron GT four-wheel drive – that together produce 582bhp, allowing the car to accelerate from 0-62mph in just 3.5sec and on to a top speed of 149mph. That acceleration is faster than you get in most versions of the Tesla Model S.
The E-tron GT can travel for up to 248 miles between charges on the newest WLTP tests, which are more representative of real-world driving. When we put the Model S (in 75kWh form) through our Real Range test, it managed 204 miles.
The E-tron GT’s battery pack is packaged in its floor. This should give the car a very low centre of gravity, which will help with stability and handling. Also present is four-wheel steering, which can improve manoeuvrability around town and cornering at high speeds.
Most importantly, however, the E-tron will be capable of charging at a far higher rate than today’s electric cars, which could reduce charging times to as little as 20 minutes on the very fastest 350kW chargers. It’s important to note that no charger in the UK can currently support such a fast charge, but infrastructure is likely to be improved by the time the E-tron GT goes on sale. Audi is also planning to offer wireless charging at home, whereby drivers will drive over an induction plate on the floor, rather than having to plug in.
Interestingly, the E-tron GT shares its underpinnings with Porsche’s upcoming electric luxury car, the Taycan.
The interior of the E-tron GT concept car is largely familiar from other Audi models. It includes a digital instrument display and a large central infotainment touchscreen. There’s no dual-touchscreen set-up on offer here, as in the larger E-tron SUV.
In terms of storage space, the E-tron GT has a 450-litre boot at the rear and a further 100 litres available under the bonnet.
Official pricing won’t be announced until closer to the E-tron GT’s launch in 2021. However, a price tag of close to £100,000 is expected, given the car’s luxurious and high-tech nature.
14. Seat elBorn
On sale: 2020
Look just beneath the surface of this el-Born concept car’s funky, futuristic styling and you’ll glimpse Seat’s first electric car. Based on the same underpinnings as Volkswagen’s upcoming ID 3 electric hatchback, the el-Born will lead to a production model with about the same footprint as the current Leon family hatchback.
Powered by a 201bhp electric motor, the el-Born has an official range of 261 miles on the new WLTP test cycle – far greater than electric rivals such as the Renault Zoe and Nissan Leaf, which offer 186 and 168 miles respectively on the same test. The el-Born should also be nippy; it can cover the 0-62mph sprint in 7.5sec.
Charging the el-Born to 80% capacity takes as little as 47 minutes using the latest 100kW rapid chargers, but that time will increase dramatically if you use a standard wall-mounted charger. A heat pump can extend battery life by as much as 37 miles in conditions where cold can quickly sap an electric car’s range.
Seat is traditionally seen as the VW Group’s sporty brand – something that’s emphasised by the el-Born’s wide, low stance, with its wheels pushed to the very edges of the car. Design features include a closed-off grille (no air intake is needed to cool an engine). There are intakes lower down, though, to increase the car’s aerodynamic efficiency and send air to the battery pack. The el-Born concept sits on 20in wheels that help to channel cooling air to the brakes.
Inside, the el-Born features a 10.0in touchscreen infotainment system that’s angled towards the driver, plus a digital instrument cluster. The absence of an engine up front has also allowed Seat to maximise room inside the car and provide lots of storage space, including under the centre console between the front seats, although boot capacity is still unknown.
The el-Born is capable of controlling its own acceleration, braking and steering in certain situations, such as on the motorway, and its advanced driver assistance systems include a self-parking function.
Prices haven’t yet been announced, but the el-Born is likely to cost less than the Volkswagen ID, which is expected to start at £35,000. A price of around £28,000 is therefore likely, but remember that as a fully electric car, the el-Born will also qualify for the Government’s electric vehicle grant, which currently stands at £3500.
15. Volkswagen ID Buzz
On sale 2022
The ID Buzz MPV features a retro design that draws heavily on the Volkswagen Microbus of the 1950s. It has seating for up to eight people in a configurable interior, with space for luggage at both the front and rear.
What’s more, the steering wheel will retract into the centre console when the car is driving itself – although this Pilot mode won’t be available from launch.
16. Volkswagen ID Crozz
On sale 2020
Another part of Volkswagen’s planned electric revolution is the ID Crozz – an SUV with coupé-like styling.
Standout features include a system that ensures the air inside the car is pure, regardless of pollution outside, and a digital key that stores your preferences for things such as climate control and seating position so it can set them as you approach the car.
17. Polestar 2
On sale Late 2019
Think of the Polestar 2 as an all-electric, coupé-like version of the Volvo XC40 and you won’t be far wrong.
Previewed by the 40.2 concept car in 2016, the Polestar 2 should cost about £30,000 and be capable of covering up to 350 miles between charges, with up to 400bhp expected from its electric motor. Top-end models, meanwhile, will cost around £50,000.
18. Tesla Roadster
On sale 2020
This second-generation Roadster is an all-electric four-seat convertible that is claimed to accelerate from 0-60mph in 1.9sec; in other words, it’s blisteringly fast.
With three electric motors, the Roadster is said to have a top speed of more than 250mph, while an advanced 200kWh battery gives a range of more than 600 miles. Prices are expected to start at about £190,000 for the first models.
19. Seat Mii Electric
On sale 2020
This all-electric version of the Seat Mii city car is powered by a single 82bhp electric motor, and can travel for up to 162 miles on a single charge. It should be nippy, too – a 0-31mph sprint takes just 3.9sec and its top speed is limited to 81mph. Inside, you’ll find redesigned seats which are now heated, a leather steering wheel and a new dashboard.
Skoda is also producing an electric version of its city car, the Citigo, and you can bet than an upgraded version of Volkswagen’s e-Up is already waiting in the wings.
20. Road Rover
On sale 2020
Twinned with the next-generation Jaguar XJ, the Road Rover will be Land Rover’s first fully electric car. It’s designed to be less capable off-road than its standard Range Rover siblings, but promises a range of around 300 miles on the WLTP test. Like the XJ, it will be powered by two electric motors – giving the Road Rover four-wheel drive – and prices are expected to start at around £90,000.
21. Skoda Vision E
On sale 2020
Skoda wants its electric SUV to be seen as a performance and technology flagship for the brand; that’s why it will come with around 300bhp from its electric motors and be capable of hitting 62mph from rest in six seconds.
Longer and lower than the existing Kodiaq, the Vision E has a targeted range of around 310 miles. A planned rear-wheel-drive-only variant could offer more range.
This first appeared in What Car?