Can you guess which body style they share?
Fifteen years ago, the term SUV still signified a utilitarian box better suited to muddy, pock-marked trails than suburban driveways; the gas-guzzling off-roaders antithetical to the environmental movement. Since then, the SUV has leveraged its high-riding position, go-anywhere reputation, and extra trunk space to overtake the sedan as the standard mode of transport. Ironically, with this ubiquity, the SUV has also become the go-to body style for many automakers’ new electric vehicles.
While there are still a few hatchback and sedan holdouts, the majority of the new EVs in our 2019 roundup are SUVs, signaling not only a shift in the purpose of the SUV-from rough and tough 4x4 to everyday people carrier-but also a change in the way they are perceived, going from the environmentalist’s enemy to the emissions-free vehicle of the future. Without further adieu, here’s the new crop of electric cars for 2019.
This pair from the South Korean conglomerate share a 64-kwh battery, and will both go on sale early this year. The Kona is able to eke out a few extra miles of range, with the Hyundai rated at 258 miles while the Kia can only travel 239 miles on a charge. The Kona will be offered exclusively with front-wheel drive, and will carry a base price of $37,495.
Kia has yet to reveal the Niro EV’s pricing, but expect it to be in a similar range to the Kona, a few thousand dollars more than the top-spec versions of the Niro Hybrid.
Confusingly, Kia will be selling two small electric crossovers, although the Soul’s lack of ride height means it is essentially a tall hatchback. The Soul received a complete overhaul for the 2020 model year, and with it came a fresh electric version. The Soul EV borrows the same battery from the Kona-Niro twins, and is expected to have a better range than not only the second generation electric Soul but also the Niro EV due to its smaller, lighter body. While the Niro’s arrival is not far off, we’ll have to wait several months before this funky box appears in dealerships.
Audi’s first dedicated electric car comes in the form of an SUV that sits, size-wise at least, between the Q5 and Q7 in the German automaker’s lineup. The e-tron will cost $75,795, undercutting its rival, the Tesla Model X, by around $9,000. The crossover’s range has yet to be tested on the American scale, but has achieved a rating of 248 miles from its 95-kwh battery on the European WLTP test. The e-tron also takes the prize for being the first EV to be capable of charging at 150 kilowatts, which will allow it to charge approximately 25 percent faster than the Tesla. The first deliveries are scheduled for spring this year.
Mercedes has responded by creating its own electric SUV, the EQC, which will reach US shores near the end of 2019 and will be produced at the company’s plant in Alabama. As of now, the EQC is supposed to house a 80-kwh battery, which is only good for 200 miles of range on the WLTP test, which tends to run higher than the EPA’s tests. This limited range puts the EQC at a disadvantage against its closest competitors, the Audi and Tesla, and even below inexpensive options like the Hyundai. Mercedes will likely increase the EQC’s range before it reaches American roads.
There are also several EVs that have yet to be unveiled but that are still expected to arrive this year. The Porsche Taycan, a slinky sedan aiming to take on the Tesla Model S, is rumored to offered 300 miles of range, and a battery system that can charge up for a 240-mile run in just ten minutes, which will be a game-changer in the EV arena.
Polestar, the high-performance spinoff of Volvo, is expected to introduce the 2, an electric sedan designed to take on the Tesla Model 3.
Expect Mini to reveal an all-electric version of its Cooper hatchback that will draw heavily from its 2017 Frankfurt auto show concept.
Mini’s parent company, BMW, has confirmed that its rival to the e-tron and EQC will begin production late in the year. Called the iX3, the crossover will be closely related to the normal X3, but will trade out the gas engines for a 70-kwh battery that can propel the SUV for up to 250 miles. With all of these cars and more on the horizon, Tesla needs to watch out.