Even though we’re still a long way from electric vehicles changing the world, this year’s releases are some of the best electric vehicles yet.
When I first wrote about the revolution of green machines in mid-2018 (what feels like a century ago), Silicon Valley startup Lucid Motors was my “up-and-comer to watch.” This year, the Lucid Air won Motor Trend’s Car of the Year Award, the first time that a winner was an initial product from a new automotive company. Keep in mind, the award was first launched in the late-1940s.
Right now, it seems like everyone is talking about electric vehicles – or Elon Musk’s latest tweets – but let’s take a look at the elephant(s) in the room: with supply chain problems leading to computer chip shortages and environmental concerns about the production and recycling of batteries – not to mention whether the source of electricity is truly “clean” – Electric vehicles aren’t the quick and simple solution we want them to be. Plus, infrastructure has been slow to catch up with demand, so you might not find a charging station where and when you need it. Of course, there are apps to help with that.
Nobody needs to explain why the world is trying to solve the car “problem.” Can cars be sustainable? We might love driving them, but can we justify them in a world of climate change? When you get behind the wheel of a luxury vehicle, you might feel a tinge of guilt. If it’s an eco-friendly(ish) vehicle, that guilt starts melting away. But as a recent graphic by Reuters brilliantly illustrates, it’s a long time coming before electric vehicles will change the world. At least it’s a solid start.
Before you bemoan the loss of “the way things were,” try driving an electric vehicle. For those who, like myself, might have Torque Addiction Disorder (symptoms: a tendency to over-accelerate suddenly, often accompanied by giggling), the quick power delivery of an electric vehicle won’t disappoint. Instead of waiting for the powertrain to translate gas combustion into forward motion through a complicated maze of valves, linkages, and things that go “bump,” electric engines can directly power the wheels, allowing for almost instantaneous acceleration.
A few years ago, I spent a week with the plug-in hybrid BMW i8 (discontinued last year in favour of the automaker’s all-electric models). After a passionate affair that involved days of driving for no reason other than for fun, I was thrilled when I filled the gas tank and realized that countless hours of cruising added up to just a few dollars. Of course, I didn’t pay $150K-plus for the experience, either, but it’s surprisingly easy to spend that much on a vehicle if you have high-performance expectations.
No matter what your budget is, if you’re car shopping, this is one of the best years yet for electric vehicles (and don’t forget to check for applicable electric vehicle tax credits, which can be substantial). Here’s a quick look at some eye-catching options:
Note: all range figures included in this article are approximate/estimated.
Mini Cooper SE
Base price: $40,990
Horsepower/range: 181 hp/180 km*
Highlights: All the cuteness of a Mini but eco-friendly, too! Options for the SE include a panoramic roof, Harman Kardon sound system, and connected navigation with a full digital instrument display. Keep in mind, Mini Cooper’s parent company is BMW, so you can expect the same levels of technology in a compact package.
Base price: $49,900
Horsepower/range: 408 hp/400 km*
Highlights: An extension of Volvo’s performance division, Polestar is dedicated to electric mobility. Options include a panoramic roof, driver assistance package, stereo upgrade, and Brembo brakes. Next year, the all-new Polestar 3 performance SUV will arrive – the first Polestar model produced in North America.
Ford Mustang Mach-E
Base price: $51,495
Horsepower/range: 266 hp/480 km*
Highlights: The Mach-E is a crossover SUV body style available with all-wheel drive. If you want more Mustang horses, take a look at the topline 480-hp GT Performance Edition, which starts at $85,995. The mid-price California Route 1 Trimline provides an extended range of 505 km.
Base price: $67,698
Horsepower/range: 340 hp/480 km*
Highlights: Arriving this fall, the Lyriq is the first of several all-electric models coming from Cadillac. Equipped with a wide range of standard driver assistance features, the Lyriq also upholds the Cadillac legacy with luxurious interior detailing including wood trim, ambient lighting, LED instrument display, and a 19-speaker sound system. Parent company GM plans to invest more than $4 billion in two Michigan plants to boost EV capacity.
Volvo C40 Recharge
Base price: $72,600
Horsepower/range: 402 hp/360 km*
Highlights: The first all-electric, all-wheel-drive Volvo is also the first with a leather-free interior, featuring Nordico, a textile that incorporates recycled plastic, cork and bio-waste from sustainable forests. Integrated, voice-activated Google Assistant means you can access maps while driving, making the search for charging stations easier.
Base price: $79,900
Horsepower/range: 516 hp/520 km*
Highlights: BMW’s innovative, curved display panel is a fully digital control centre designed to seamlessly integrate gauges and infotainment. This is done by using touch or gesture-and voice-activated commands. A large range of driver and assistance systems are standard, and the glass panorama roof is the largest BMW has produced. The i4 provides similar features in sedan form, starting at a lower base price, but if you want more horsepower, the iX M60 provides up to 610 hp with a 450 km driving range (starting at $121,750).
Base price: $90,000
Horsepower/range: 835 hp/480 km*
Highlights: Motor Trend’s 2022 Truck of the Year is expected to arrive in Canada this summer. The R1T has a panoramic roof, seating for five and innovative storage features including a “Gear Tunnel” that fits a custom-designed, pull-out modular kitchen with a two-burner induction cooktop and four-gallon water tank.
Base price: $99,800
Horsepower/range: 394 hp/360 km*
Highlights: Winner of several awards, including World Car of the Year, the I-Pace has plenty of standard equipment. With a remote engine starter, head-up display, premium LED headlights, automatic high-beam assist, and a power liftgate, the car is sure to exceed expectations. Options such as the Cold Climate or Park Assist package add practical features to further enhance the driving experience.
Base price: $105,000
Horsepower/range: 480 hp/650 km* (base model)
Highlights: The top line Dream Edition comes with up to 1,111 hp and a segment-leading 836 km per charge (more than 185 km over its closest competitor). Each Lucid is equipped with DreamDrive, the company’s advanced driver assistance system that features up to 32 sensors, including radar, laser, and ultrasonic technology. Optional features include a Glass Canopy roof and reclining back passenger seating. The much anticipated Project Gravity, Lucid’s seven-passenger SUV, arrives next year.
Base price: $119,900
Horsepower/range: 469 hp/320 km*
Highlights: Available in three body styles (“Turismo” being Porsche-speak for station wagon) with six levels of horsepower and “overboost” to provide extra power on demand. The $215,000 Taycan Turbo S is the pinnacle of the lineup, with 750 hp.
Audi e-Tron GT
Base price: $130,850
Horsepower/range: 522 hp/380 km*
Highlights: “Boost mode” unlocks extra horsepower for short bursts of acceleration. The standard Remote Parking Pilot can be activated by smartphone so you can enter and leave a spot without even being in the car. Opt for the RS edition (Audi’s most powerful production vehicle ever) to get 637 hp and sporty detailing such as red seatbelts and red-stitched leather upholstery. By 2026, Audi plans to sell only electric models, which will include a successor to the much revered (and my personal favourite!) R8.
Hummer EV SUV
Base price: $131,200
Horsepower/range: 830 hp/480 km*
Highlights: Available early next year, this EV provides features you won’t find with any other, such as “diagonal” steering that controls all four wheels individually to traverse tricky trails, adjustable suspension designed for rock crawling, and an optional Infinity Roof with removable roof panels for open-air cruising. Plus, now you can drive a Hummer without irritating your environmentalist friends.
Base price: $144,200
Horsepower/range: 516 hp/550 km*
Highlights: Drive Pilot, an advanced autonomous driving system, is optional on the S-Class and EQS starting this year. Options for the EQS include a Premium package with heating and massage features for the front seats and an Executive Rear Seating package, also equipped with heating and massage features. Not quite ready for an EV? Mercedes-AMG recently unveiled its most powerful production vehicle yet, the GT 63 S E Performance, a plug-in hybrid with 843 hp, which will cost about $230,000 when it arrives next year.
Base price: Does it really matter? A few hundred large plus
Horsepower/range: Details are unconfirmed
Highlights: The Spectre, the marque’s first all-electric car is anticipated in late 2023, so it’s worth waiting to make the big purchase if money doesn’t matter. With parent company BMW in charge, you can expect the electric platform to be first-rate. And this is only a start: Rolls-Royce plans to be fully electric by 2030.