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Flood of Long-Range Electric Cars Set to Plug Into U.S. Market by 2020

Many will target affordable niches

by on Aug.09, 2017

Mercedes will introduce a new battery sub-brand and launch it with a version of the Mercedes-EQ Concept.

With last month’s launch of the Tesla Model 3, U.S. consumers now have two “affordable” long-range battery-electric vehicles to choose from. Those with a bit more money in the bank can also opt for the more expensive Tesla Model S sedan and Model X SUV.

There are plenty of other electric vehicles in U.S. showrooms today, though most, like the current-generation Ford Focus Electric, can manage barely 100 miles per charge. The Mitsubishi MiEV, which will vanish at the end of the 2017 model-year, can only make it 59 miles before having to plug in again, according to the EPA.

We'll Keep You Plugged In!

But the new model-year not only will bring us the new Model 3 but a complete makeover of the Nissan Leaf, which will nearly double its range to at least 200 miles per charge. And that’s just for starters. By 2020, virtually every major automaker is expected to have at least one long-range model in its showrooms. Many of them will be in affordable – that is, under $40,000 base MSRP – segments, with plenty more in premium niches.

While some automakers have been open about their electrification plans, others have dropped just vague hints. So, here’s an admittedly incomplete look at some of the most significant models to come by 2020.

Audi showed off its e-Tron Sportback Concept at this year's Shanghai Motor Show.

Aston Martin: The new Aston RapidE definitely won’t fall into the affordable category, this all-electric version of the British marque’s four-door supercar expected to come in at over $200,000. The RapidE was developed in a joint venture with Chinese-owned LeEco. The alliance has broken down, so production will be limited to 155, but Aston officials hint another EV is in the works.

(Click Here for more on Aston’s EV plans.)

Audi: One of the first luxury automakers to openly commit to going fully electric, Audi’s first BEV is due out in little more than a year and could be called the Q6 e-tron Quattro, basically an all-electric alternative to the familiar Q5. CEO Rupert Stadler now says there will be three BEVs by 2020, possibly a production version of the e-Tron Sportback Concept, and a flagship A9 e-Tron.

BMW: The German maker has been adding a number of hybrids and plug-ins, of late, and offers both the short-range i3 city car and i5 plug-in sports car. CEO Harald Krueger has promised to bring more fully electric models to market and one is expected to be a more stylish city car expected to be called the BMW i5 that will push into the 200-mile range.

Faraday Future is one of the battery-car start-ups, but whether its FF91 will make production is uncertain.

Faraday Future. This Chinese-funded start-up seemed doomed to vanish when, a month ago, it canceled plans for a $1 billion Nevada assembly plant. But Faraday now has lined up a new plant in California and despite the legion of skeptics  says it will still bring the FF91 electric supercar to market by 2018. Look for near-autonomous driving and a price tag that could nudge $200,000.

(Can Faraday Future pull things off with a new plant? Click Here for the story.)

Fisker: Danish designer Henrik Fisker made a splash with the sexy Fisker Karma, but the company quickly went bust. (Sold off to a Chinese firm, it has reappeared as the Karma Revero plug-in). Henrik is setting up a new company and claims he’ll deliver as much as 400 miles range with the new Fisker e-Motion under development. Styling similarities to the old Karma are purely intentional.

Ford: The Blue Oval brand was quick to jump into electrification, though it focused on mostly hybrids and plug-ins, with the all-electric version of its Focus sedan delivering under 100 miles range. Before being ousted in May, CEO Mark Fields promised an array of new battery-based models, including a long-range Volt/Model 3 challenger some believe could be similar in size to the current Ford Escape.

GM plans to add at least one more long-range BEV, along with the Chevy Bolt, by 2020.

General Motors: The Detroit automaker scored a coup by delivering its affordable Chevrolet Bolt to market before Tesla could roll out its Model 3. Sales of the 238-mile Bolt have been modest, but GM remains committed to adding still more long-range BEVs, CEO Mary Barra recently revealing that a second electric will be out “before 2020.” Don’t be surprised if it adopts a more SUV-like design.

Honda: The Japanese maker was one of the first to go hybrid, but it’s waffled on all-electric models. Honda is now set to offer three versions of its Clarity platform, the current hydrogen FCV, a plug-in hybrid and a relatively short-range all-electric. CEO Takahiro Hachigo wants two-thirds of Honda’s sales to come from electrified models by 2030, so look for a long-range BEV in the near-term, as well.

Hyundai: The biggest of the Korean carmakers recently rolled out its triple-threat Ioniq, with hybrid, plug-in and full-electric options, though the EV offers relatively short range. But company officials have broadly hinted that they are working on both a long-range EV, possibly sharing platforms with a new fuel-cell vehicle to replace the current, hydrogen-powered version of the Tucson SUV.

Jaguar's electric I-Pace will use a skateboard-like platform with batteries in its load floor. to ensure maximum interior space.

Jaguar: Best known for its sleek sports cars and sporty coupes, Jaguar’s best-selling model is now the F-Pace SUV, with a smaller E-Pace soon joining its line-up. So, it’s likely no surprise the British maker decided to go with a ute for its first all-electric model. The I-Pace design reflects the fact that most of its powertrain tech is believe its floor, meaning a compact footprint with a near full-size interior.

Kia: The smaller Korean brand will soon have two versions of its Niro, a hybrid and a plug-in hybrid. It also has the short-range Kia Soul EV. Kia now says it is looking to add an all-electric version of the Niro – which shares platforms with the Hyundai Ioniq. And it will also bring out an all-electric version of the upcoming Stonic crossover expected to deliver range just short of 200 miles.

A Lucid Air prototype hit 235 mph during track testing.

Lucid: Another California-based EV start-up, this company has a number of former Tesla team members developing its Lucid Air supercar. The promise is blinding speed, range of up to 400 miles, near autonomous driving and a design that takes advantage – like Jaguar’s I-Pace – of mounting all the hard bits under the floor, yielding a “business-class” cabin. A 200-mile version will start at under $100,000.

Mazda: The Hiroshima-based automaker doesn’t have a huge R&D budget and has focused on breakthroughs in gasoline power, its new Skyactiv-X engine expected to deliver near-hybrid mileage. But Mazda is about to get into the EV game, this month announcing a partnership with Toyota that will yield new, long-range BEVs produced at an all-new U.S. plant – but production won’t start until 2021.

(For more on the Toyota-Mazda joint venture, Click Here.)

Mercedes-EQ. Yep, the Daimler luxury division is launching a unique marque specifically for plug-based models and it will debut with a production version of the Mercedes-EQ Concept that debuted at last year’s Paris Motor Show. Look for seven or more all-electric models in the coming years, along with an array of plug-in hybrids sold through the Mercedes-Benz brand.

The new Nissan Leaf won't debut until Sept. 6, but was caught during a videotaping in Spain.

Nissan: Expect to get a full look at the next-generation Nissan Leaf at a global premier in Japan on September 6th. It will adopt a less radical design than the original, but it also will nearly double range, to around 200 per charge, with an optional smaller battery-pack rumored. Look for semi-autonomous ProPilot Assist and the e-Pedal system will allow one-pedal driving in many situations.

Porsche: Best known for its thrilling sports cars, Porsche has also added SUVs and the four-door Panamera in recent years, so why not a high-performance, long-range battery supercar. And the Mission E isn’t likely to be the last foray into pure electrification, as Porsche plans to share platforms and other tech bits with sibling brand Audi, both part of the broad Volkswagen Group.

Tesla: With nearly 500,000 advance reservations, Tesla aims to prove there’s a true mainstream market for an affordable, long-range BEV. But the Model 3 isn’t the only new product in the upstart maker’s pipeline. CEO Elon Musk has revealed plans for a compact SUV to be called the Model Y, a yet-unnamed electric pickup, and a reborn Tesla Roadster. Production will continue for the Models S and X, as well.

Volkswagen says when its I.D. hits the market in two years, it'll be cheaper than competitors like the Tesla Model 3.

Toyota: Its Prius was the world’s first hybrid, but Toyota has been skeptical of lithium batteries, preferring hydrogen power for its Mirai. That’s about to change. Reports say Toyota is working on breakthrough lithium-air batteries that could yield long-range and extremely fast charging. A U.S. factory for battery-car production, part of a joint venture with Mazda, is coming, but won’t open until 2021.

(For more on the Toyota-Mazda joint venture, Click Here.)

Volkswagen: The German maker is deemphasizing diesels in the wake of its emissions scandal and promises to launch a score of all-electric models within the coming decade. It will start off with a production version of the I.D. Concept that debuted at the Paris Motor Show last year. Look for 200-plus miles of a range and, VW hints, a price tag well below that of the Tesla Model 3 and Chevy Bolt.

Volvo:  The Chinese-owned, Swedish-based Volvo made headlines recently when it announced that all new vehicles debuting in 2018 and beyond will be “electrified.” In reality, most will be conventional hybrids or plug-ins, but expect to see Volvo roll out several all-electric models. That could include a version of the next-gen XC90 or a smaller battery-electric SUV to follow, sources suggest.

This list is subject to revision, as plans are rapidly changing for many automakers. And we’ll have to wait and see which of the many start-ups actually make it into production. The latter list includes NextEV which is working on what could become the world’s fastest production automobile, the 1,360-hp EP9.

Several established automakers are also still working on electrification plans. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles offers the short-range Fiat 500 Electric, and a plug-in version of its new Pacifica minivan. A long-range BEV version may follow.

So, stay plugged in. TheDetroitBureau.com will revise this list as we learn about other electrifying plans.

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