The official reason for getting an EV is saving the planet. At least, that’s what we tell ourselves to justify purchasing a car that is usually thousands more expensive than the petrol or diesel-driven equivalent. But the real reason why many of us have taken the plunge and gone electric is that the technology is really cool, and in many cases actually better than what fossil fuels can deliver. EVs are frequently faster than fossil, the connected tech is more advanced, and many of the new companies involved have thrown the rulebook out the window where design is concerned. So here, in no particular order, are the 10 most exciting electric vehicles around today, or very close to being around today.
TSLA Roadster 2020
No self-respecting list of exciting EVs could miss out Tesla, as everything the company makes has broken new ground at launch. The original Roadster pioneered the idea that EVs could be exciting at all, and successive releases have taken the concept further mainstream. For the 2020 Roadster, Tesla is promising a 0-60 time of just 1.9 seconds, a top speed over 250mph, and a 620-mile range – but presumably not if you’re driving at the maximum velocity. To put this in perspective, a Bugatti Chiron takes 2.4 seconds to hit 62mph, although the Super Sport 300+ variant has managed to hit over 300mph. Amazingly, Musk is claiming Tesla will sell the new Roadster for $200,000, which seems like a lot until you look at how much fossil fuel cars with this kind of performance cost. The aforementioned Chiron is around $2.8 million. There’s even talk of the new Roadster having Space X rockets and the ability to fly, but we’ll believe this when we see it.
It’s fitting that the next on our list is from legendary British sportscar manufacturer Lotus, since the original Tesla Roadster was based on a Lotus Elise. The Evija will boast 1,972hp, making it the most powerful production road car when it arrives. It promises a sub-3 seconds 0-60mph sprint and top speed over 200mph, with a 215-mile range. However, unlike the Tesla Roadster, this will be a hypercar for hypercar money – around £2 million ($2.6 million). You may be asking – why not get a Roadster? But Lotus knows a thing or two about handling, so the Evija is much anticipated for the driving experience it is likely to deliver. Lotus has also stated that its next generation of cars will be its last fossil-fuel ones, after which the company will be going EV-only.
EV West Electraliner
Electric cars have acceleration nailed compared to fossil fuel, thanks to the instant torque delivery of the motor technology. But they generally can’t compete on top speed. EV West and Hickey Speed have been designing a vehicle called the Electraliner that the company hopes will smash the electric land speed record at Bonneville Salt Flats during Speed Week 2020. The E2 class record currently dates back to 1997, when Ed Rannberg achieved a 213mph average over two runs in the Lightning Rod. The E2 class specifies a weight range between 1,100 and 2,200 pounds. The overall electric land speed record is held by the Buckeye Bullet 3, which achieved 341mph in 2016, but in a car weighing 3.5 tons. The Electraliner will integrate a re-geared Tesla drive unit to hit a theoretical 337mph, although the real speed achieved will probably be quite a bit less than that.
While we’re on the subject of Bonneville, in 2019 another EV tried to broach 200mph on the Salt Flats, although at around 1,600kg not in the E2 class. The Palatov D2EV is a monster electric version of the company’s D2 bespoke racing car. In tandem with Cascadia Motion, Palatov fitted 1,300hp of electric motors to achieve 0-60mph in under 2.4 seconds. Due to slushy conditions at Bonneville, the car only managed 197mph in 2019, but could achieve 265mph under better circumstances, according to company owner Dennis Palatov. It had also placed overall 9th in the Pikes Peak 2019 hill climb just a month earlier.
Rimac is somewhat infamous now for the horrific crash The Grand Tour’s Richard Hammond had when driving its Concept One EV in 2017. Luckily, Hammond escaped with a fractured knee and was driving again just two months later. The C_Two is the Croatian company’s successor to the Concept One. Rimac claims a gob smacking 0-60 of just 1.85 seconds and a 258mph top speed, so the C_Two could be a real Tesla Roadster competitor, with a 402-mile NEDC range. The car shares a platform with the Pininfarina Battista, which would be on this list too if we had space. No word on price yet, but we don’t expect it to be Tesla Model 3 money.
That’s enough of million-dollar hypercars. Let’s look at what is likely to be the most important EV release of 2020, although sadly not currently lined up for sale in the USA. As I reported in June, the Volkswagen ID.3 is the car that the company hopes will change its fortunes after the dieselgate fiasco. This Golf-sized vehicle is the first arrival on the MEB platform, which has been engineered from the ground up for EVs. It looks almost as futuristic as a Tesla, but with German build quality and luxury rather than the American company’s somewhat dubious attention to detail. Offering a range of up to 342 miles, this is a real contender that could put a European dent in Tesla’s Model 3 sales, although the starting price of around £38,000 ($50,000) has garnered considerable criticism. Nevertheless, the ID.3 and other cars that will arrive on the MEB platform show that at least one German manufacturer has woken up to the threat from Tesla and EVs, even if others continue to drag their heels.
If the ID.3 is the most hotly anticipated new EV in Europe of 2020, the Polestar 2 comes a close second, with some calling it a Tesla Model 3 beater. Polestar is the result of a collaboration between Swedish Volvo and Chinese Geely. The company’s first car, the Polestar 1, is a pricey $180,000 hybrid with 600hp. The Polestar 2, on the other hand, is a mainstream all-electric vehicle and starts at a much more affordable $63,000 or £49,900 in the UK, putting it somewhere between the Tesla Model 3 Long Range and Performance. Its capabilities are in the same ballpark as well, with 0-62mph in 4.7 seconds and a 292-mile WLTP range. With none of these stats, or the price, being far off a Tesla Model 3, and the design being far more in keeping with what owners of regular cars rather than early adopters are looking for, the Polestar 2 shows that there is EV life beyond the Californian brand.
While we’re on the subject of Tesla contenders, next up is the Fisker Ocean. Henrik Fisker originally designed a plug-in range-extended car called the Karma (see below). But after Fisker Automotive filed for bankruptcy in 2013, Henrik Fisker himself moved on to reform his operations as Fisker Inc. The Ocean is the Fisker Inc. model everyone is talking about. This is an SUV, and Fisker is directly targeting the Tesla Model Y. A hot version is slated to be able to hit 60mph in under 3 seconds, faster than the Model Y, and the entry level will be a starting price of $37,999, or $29,999 after tax credit, which is considerably lower than the Model Y’s $49,990. Range should be 250-300 miles, similar to the Model Y. It also looks amazing and is packed with tech. If Fisker can pull all this off, the Ocean will be a real contender when it arrives, which is currently set for 2021.
After all these beautiful EVs, you might be wondering why this somewhat childish-looking car has been included. Well, it’s because this is the cheapest EV currently available outside China, costing just $12,499 with federal grants deducted. There are cheaper EVs in China, such as the Ora R1, which costs around $8,600. But you can’t buy that anywhere else yet. The K27 promises around 100 miles from its 17.59kWh battery and a top speed of just 63mph, but this is fine for city usage and it has four doors, so could transport a family. The K27 is a sign of where things could be in a few years as EV pricing drops, mostly thanks to lower battery costs.
Karma Revero GTE
Since we’ve been talking about Henrik Fisker, it makes sense to end with a car that he designed the first version of – the Karma, which was originally the vehicle’s name but is now the brand name since Fisker sold the tooling to Wanxiang in 2014 after going out of business. The Revero GTE is a pure electric version of what was previously a hybrid, and has some impressive statistics, with up to a 400-mile range and 0-62mph in less than 3.9 seconds. But the main thing is the design. Just look at it. Absolutely gorgeous.
I’ve called this list the 10 most exciting EVs, but it was hard to choose what made the cut and what to exclude. There are so many exciting EVs on the horizon. The Porsche Taycan is highly stimulating, the NIO EP9 is decidedly epic, and umpteen possible invaders from China could really bring prices mainstream in just a few years. So these are really just some of the most exciting EVs right now. The fact that there are so many more shows just how fast-moving and vibrant the EV market is now. It’s positively electrifying.