What's coming up? All the important players in the bubbling EV/hybrid war
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The motoring industry has never seen more change, advancement, and uncertainty than the patch it’s currently going through. Traditional and emerging technologies are beginning to intermingle at a time where manufacturers have to negotiate between consumer demand, government regulation, and cost.
Naturally, the landscape of upcoming vehicles is as chaotic as it’s ever been. But, we’ve tried to boil it all down for you in this one story. Here are all the known movers and shakers we should expect (in some cases, hope) to see on our roads in the coming years.
Given the popularity of the segment, it’s no surprise that the SUV world is where we find the most upcoming EV and hybrid competition.
In the short term, the most interesting releases are set to be the fully electric Mercedes-Benz EQC and Audi e-tron. Both will land in New Zealand by the end of the year, slotting in as rivals for the Jaguar I-Pace.
While Mercedes are keeping mum on pricing, Audi have confirmed that the e-tron will start at $148,500. It’s expected that the e-tron will soon be joined by an electric version of the Q2 and a production version of the Q4 e-tron concept revealed in March.
While BMW haven’t yet entered the ring, its revised X5 xDrive40e plug-in hybrid will debut later this year too. Plus, there's the still-to-be-revealed iNext, which looks set to be a direct EQC and e-tron fighter.
Audi’s electric SUVs will be just the start for Volkswagen AG, who is expected to roll out electric powertrains in all of their shared platforms. The Porsche Macan is another such example that’s set for electrification, as it plays a supporting role to the upcoming E Cross Turismo.
Among the mainstream manufacturers, the plug-in hybrid version of Ford’s next-gen Escape will go on sale early next year with a pure electric range of 50km via a 14.4kWh. If priced well, it’s likely to be a big seller. It shapes up as a curious rival for the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, which is overdue for an update.
Tesla unveiled its Model Y crossover in March, based on Model 3 underpinnings and featuring a 480km range in its Long Range configuration. Don’t expect to see it here until late 2021 at the earliest.
Last but by no means least is the MG ZS EV. It’s a confirmed starter here for 2020, and will undoubtedly be one of the cheapest electrified cars in the country when it lands based on the brand’s low-pricing model. It’ll have a 335km range, with charging from empty to 80 per cent coming in 40 minutes on a fast-charger. A very compelling prospect on paper.
Hot on the heels of SUVs is the electrified hatchback segment, which is gaining popularity thanks to its lower cost of entry.
The big release this year is the Nissan Leaf, which will start appearing at Nissan dealerships next month with an entry-level price of $59,990 and a 270km range. Read more about the new Leaf elsewhere in this issue.
Along with its existing rivals, the Leaf will also have to soon deal with a revised Volkswagen e-Golf. The Mk8 version of Germany’s iconic hatchback is fast approaching, with its global launch set to come at Frankfurt in September. In a similar vein, a new A3 is set to come next year.
An e-Golf isn’t potentially guaranteed given that VW are also soon releasing the 420km ID 3 hatch, which will form the bottom end of the brand’s next-gen EV line-up. The ID 3’s Seat sister product, the el-Born (a production-ready concept was shown off in March) is already confirmed to be sold here.
BMW are part of the battle, too, with the newly unveiled Cooper SE — boasting familiar styling and between 230–270km of range from a 135kW electric motor.
Two other superminis confirmed for New Zealand are the very different Renault Zoe EV refresh and Toyota Yaris Hybrid. Both will land here in 2020 and likely sit at opposite ends of the pricing spectrum. The Yaris in particular will probably be the cheapest hybrid in the country, given it should retail for less than the larger $27,990 Prius C.
Less certain for the Kiwi market are the Kia Soul EV, Peugeot e-208, and Honda e. While the former pairing impress on paper with a 390km and 340km range, respectively, and funky styling, it’s the latter that’s captured plenty of people’s imaginations. Retro looks, rear-wheel drive, 50:50 weight distribution … come on Honda, bring it here!
The race to be first can be a critical one, and it looks like Great Wall are going to be first to land a fully electric ute in New Zealand. The replacement for their Steed model is due next year, and included in the line-up is an EV model. Specific details on the ute are thin for the moment, but expect them to be unraveled as a year goes on.
Tesla are working on an electric ute, but that's a ways off yet. Although ironically a couple of other American companies are picking up the slack.
The first are Ford, who have confirmed that they're working on fully electric and hybrid versions of the F-150 pick-up. The other is start-up Rivian, who broke the internet late last year by revealing a four-motor fully electric double-cab that makes 147kW of power for each wheel and a claimed 14,000Nm total.
Don't expect those figures to last the from-concept-to-reality process, but do keep an eye on Rivian. Its ute is arguably more likely to hit New Zealand than any factory right-hook F-150.
You cannot bring up the topic of electric cars and not mention the Tesla Model 3. Driven understands that the first right-hand drive ‘Threes’ are already here ahead of their scheduled August release to hungry pre-ordering masses at a base price of $73,900 a pop.
One of the closest cars to the Model 3 dimensionally is the Hyundai Ioniq. A face-lift for the hybrid and EV platform is due next year, with a much improved cabin among the key changes. Improvements in range on either flavour of model hasn’t been confirmed. A hybrid is also set to join the large-car Sonata line-up.
The Ioniq’s main hybrid rival is undoubtedly the Toyota Prius. A refresh of the current version of Toyota’s iconic model just landed, sporting cleaner lines, improved standard equipment, a sharp 3.4L/100km economy, and a sub-$40k price-tag.
For those wanting a little more brand cache, the forthcoming BMW 330e plug-in should oblige. The 185kW/420Nm sedan more than doubles the electric range of the last model (from 24km to 60km), although sadly it's still to be launched in New Zealand.
With BMW drip-feeding new models into its 3-Series line-up, expect that to change soon.
The advent of electric cars has seen the creation of a whole host of electric hypercars that feature mind-bending power and acceleration statistics. These include the recently shown off Pininfarina Battista and Lotus Evija, as well as the Tesla Roadster. All three are said to accelerate to 100km/h in under three seconds.
Of the trio, the Tesla is arguably the most compelling. It's apparently capable of the 100km/h sprint in around two seconds, with a 1000km/h range, 402km/h top speed, and a price of under $300,000 when the first models supposedly land in 2020.
On a more mainstream level are the Porsche Taycan and Audi e-tron GT. The grand tourer sister pairing are set to be revealed later this year in preparation for global release in 2020. Both take the four-door template and streamline it, forming two slick, quick, electric luxury sportsters.
Somewhere in the middle of the luxury GT cars and EV hypercars sits the plug-in hybrid V8 Ferrari SF90 Stradale and next-gen hybrid twin-turbo V6 Aston Martin Vanquish. The two supercars aren't necessarily direct rivals, with over 100kW of power difference expected between them.
But nonetheless both are seen as technological pivots for two manufacturers that have traditionally hung on to history. One is a temptingly production-ready concept (the Aston), and the other should start hitting showrooms next year (the Ferrari).