If you’re a fan of electric cars, you might find it interesting that there are already 40 EV (electric vehicle) and plug-in hybrid models available in the U.S., with many more to come.
Here are those that made my top five (not necessarily from best to worst):
This one isn’t a car — it’s a Harley-Davidson
electric motorcycle. For that fact alone, it more than makes the list, because Milwaukee-based Harley has built its reputation on loud-pipe cruisers. The LiveWire is a beast capable of getting you from 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds. No clutch to release, no gears to run through — we’re talking about an electric motor that delivers 100% of the torque the moment you twist your wrist. It has a 110-mile range and can be recharged at home or at a dedicated public charger. It comes with an app to check the bike’s location and battery-charge status, as well as security alerts and GPS-based tracking if someone tries to steal it. But innovations don’t stop there. Harley has done away with analog gauges in favor of a 4.3-inch touchscreen. Along with the basics, it can play music, provide turn-by-turn navigation, find charging locations and more. The LiveWire will be available from select dealers in North America and Western Europe in the fall of 2019, starting at $29,799. I know my editor will be getting one. How about you?
FF 91 by Faraday Future
The FF 91 isn’t quite dead. The Los Angeles-based company behind it did have some financial difficulties, but it’s still very much eager to release the model in 2019. If it can pull it off, the FF 91 could be an amazing car. Let’s look at the specs: A 130-kilowatt (kWh) battery capable of a 350-mile-plus range powers three motors with 1,050 horsepower between them. This baby can reach 0-60 mph in 2.4 seconds, on par with the Tesla Model S P100D. But the crazy doesn’t stop there. The car will feature 30 sensors, including a retractable LiDAR system, which enables it not only to self-park, but also to look for a free spot in a parking lot. The FF 91 won’t feature door handles, keys or mirrors. Instead, it will use facial recognition to open doors and start the engine. Buttons will open doors and high-def cameras will provide a wider range of view than any conventional mirror.
At this point, price is a matter of wild speculation — I’ve heard anything from $120,000 to over $300,000, but not lower, since the company wants it to be priced in line with ultra-luxury vehicles such as Bentleys. Let’s wait and see.
unit Audi and BMW
are getting into the EV game carefully — sporting fewer innovations and putting more emphasis on traditional features, the Byton M-Byte goes in head first. Its 48-inch curved Shared Experience Display (SED) is easily the world’s largest in-car display for a production automobile, with three content areas that can be controlled through a seven-inch driver tablet and an eight-inch touch pad. Want even more screens? How about rear-seat entertainment screens that share content with the front one. Byton claims the SED will meet automotive safety standards, as well as crash standards in all target markets, and I for one, would be interested to see the crash tests myself.
Byton, based in Nanjing, China, has worked with Amazon.com’s
Alexa to jointly develop voice control, and has initiated cooperation with other developers willing to create content for its open digital ecosystem, Byton Life. The system features not only voice control, but also machine-learning capabilities that can analyze user’s location and preferences to provide intuitive support (online shopping tasks, remote charging management and more). It can recognize users’ voices and sounds from different directions in the car.
If this wasn’t enough, at launch, Byton will provide Level 3 autonomous driving functionality, with Level 4 available sometime during 2020. The car will offer two battery sizes, 71 and 95 kWh, with ranges of 250 and 325 miles, respectively. The company hopes to bring its electric SUV to market in 2019, starting at about $45,000.
This is Stuttgart, Germany-based Porsche’s first foray into the world of electric cars, and although there aren’t many details yet available, what we know so far is impressive: With 600 horsepower at its disposal, this elegant car can reach 62 mph in fewer than 3.5 seconds and can cover 250 miles after being charged for fewer than 20 minutes. Outcries from some Porsche fans can already be heard — if it’s not petrol-powered, it’s no Porsche, they say. My guess is those criticisms will come to a halt after naysayers give this car a spin.
The Taycan — “a spirited young horse” (the name is derived from two Turkish terms with that particular meaning, and Porsche has actually made a video just to help you pronounce it) — is one of many Porsche electric vehicles in the pipeline. Bloomberg reports the company plans to invest more than 6 billion euros ($6.9 billion) on electric mobility by 2022; by 2025, half of Porsche vehicles, including the Macan, will be all-electric or hybrid.
Last but not least, here’s a car I’m actually interested in myself:
Marketed as a family SUV, the Audi e-tron sports ample room for passengers and cargo, as well as four-wheel drive capabilities and a powerful 95 kWh battery that can be charged at home or on the road. If charged at “select high-speed public charging stations,” Audi says, 30 minutes of charge will provide around 160 miles of range, which is faster than Tesla and Jaguar charging. The full range seems to be around 248 miles, but the number hasn’t been officially confirmed. Audi says the full range will be provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) closer to market availability.
The e-tron produces 486 horsepower, enabling it to accelerate from 0-62 mph in just 4.2 seconds.
Audi, based in Ingolstadt, Germany, has decided to phase out analog in favor of digital, and the control panel on the Audi e-tron reflects this. Its sleek, high-definition displays provide everything you need from entertainment and comfort controls to the regular array of functions you would expect to find in a vehicle. Here, however, Audi goes a step further, thanks to Amazon Alexa integration: You can access many of the same features and services in the Audi e-tron as if you were at home with Alexa-enabled devices.
But there’s more: To keep passengers occupied and to fight motion sickness, Audi developed holoride — a virtual-reality entertainment system for back-seat passengers. On-site video features a young woman in an Audi e-tron, trying on a VR headset. It seems like a gimmick, but research shows that it helps alleviate motion sickness. The secret is in the haptic feedback that mimics the car’s movement, helping the brain sync with it, thus not triggering nausea.
The e-tron will start at $74,800 and arrive in the U.S. in the second quarter of 2019.
If there was any question about electric cars “surviving,” I think it’s fair to say they’re not only here to stay, but are also thriving and becoming increasingly prevalent in 2019. What is your favorite electric ride? Will you be getting one this year? Please let me know in the comment section below.