The electric car has made leaps and bounds in terms capability and acceptability over the past few years. Leading the charge has been Tesla, whose Model S sedan has set a performance benchmarks for competitors looking to enter the segment.
A few year ago, there weren’t very many car makers that took Tesla, and fellow startups such as Coda and Fisker, seriously. Things have certainly changed. Although most of the startups have faded, Tesla is growing in sales and expanding its reach globally.
Now, a slew of mainstream automakers have either launched or are planning to launch vehicles to compete with Tesla’s sleek machines.
Audi e-tron quattro Concept
Audi recently launched the e-tron quattro concept at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show. The electric Audi is meant to serve as the basis for the German automaker’s answer to Tesla eagerly awaited Model X crossover. In concept form, the e-tron is a 4-seat, mid-size crossover with a 95 kWh battery pack. Audi claims the e-tron can hit 60 mph in just 4.6 seconds and achieve a range of more than 310 miles on a single charge.
Audi’s claimed performance figures put the e-tron quattro in the same neighbourhood as Tesla’s claims for Model X all-wheel-drive 90kWh Signature Series — 0-60 in 3.8 seconds and a range of 240 miles. The first e-tron quattro-derived production will reach showrooms in 2018 at the earliest.
Porsche Mission E Concept
In Frankfurt, fellow VW Group brand Porsche also launched a concept aimed squarely at Tesla. The Mission E concept is the basis upon which the sports-car maker could build a production variant to compete against the Model S.
According to Porsche, the all-electric concept car has 600 horsepower and is capable of reaching 60 mph in less than 3.5 seconds, while achieving 310 miles on a single charge. Furthermore, Porsche claims its “Turbo Charging” system can charge the concept’s battery pack to 80% capacity in just 15 minutes.
All of the Porsche’s stats seem to be in the same neighbourhood as the benchmark Tesla Model S P90D’s “Ludicrous Mode” 2.8-second 0-60 time, 763-horsepower rating, and 300-mile range.
If a variant of the Mission E does make it to production, expect it to arrive in showrooms no earlier than 2019.
In 2014, BMW launched its innovation-driven”i” division with a pair of all-new models. The entry-level vehicle in the lineup is the i3 electric city car. Although the $US42,000 i3 doesn’t directly compete with Tesla’s current offerings, it occupies a segment of the market that Tesla would like to enter in the near future.
According to Tesla, the company will introduce a smaller, more affordable offering in 2017, called the Model 3. With the Model 3, Tesla is aiming to offer Tesla performance at a target base price of $US35,000, although it is believed the the 3 will have less range than the Model S.
The other model in the BMW i family of cars is the hybrid i8 sports car. Although the i8 isn’t a pure EV, the futuristic sports car still manages to deliver an exhilarating driving experience while offering levels of fuel efficiency conventional competitors simply can’t approach. The i8 is powered by a 228-horsepower, turbocharged inline-3-cylinder engine, paired with a 129-hp electric motor.
According to BMW, the $US136,500 i8 is capable of 0-60 mph in just 4.2 seconds ,while achieving 76 MPGe and a total range of 330 miles.
Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer announced earlier this year that the boutique British sports car maker is moving into the EV market with an all-electric version of the company’s next-generation Rapide sedan.
The electric Rapide is expected to pack 800 horsepower with all-wheel-drive and have a range of 200 miles on a single charge.
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