The 600 club: These electric vehicles are chasing Tesla Model 3 in bid to achieve lofty new range milestones
Electric vehicles are here to stay. But the big question that hangs over these sleek, quiet roadsters remains: Can they get you from here to there?
Sales of EVs are on the upswing everywhere. Tesla CEO Elon Musk even predicted this month the Model Y could well become the top-selling car or truck worldwide next year. Following in Tesla’s lead, Ford, Volkswagen Group, and General Motors are pivoting quickly toward battery-powered models.
While generous state subsidies and increasingly stiff emissions regulations help drive demand, a number of factors influence a purchase, such as a car’s styling, how fast its battery recharges, and of course its price. Yet auto executives agree a big part of the market won’t even consider an electric vehicle if its range doesn’t meet their needs.
Constant improvements in cell chemistry are pushing the range envelope for electric vehicles further and further, with some of the latest models able to drive as far as their internal combustion engine rivals.
Below is a list of some of the buzziest EV models currently available, and their respective range. As is the case with fuel efficiency, measuring how far they can drive on a single charge is not an exact science, however. That’s why the list below focuses on the United Nations’ WLTP test cycle measured in kilometers, which is applied in Europe and other parts of the globe, rather than the EPA certified figure in miles only found in the U.S. market.
Tesla Model 3
The bestselling battery electric vehicle (BEV) in the world, the Long Range version of this midsize sedan was just updated to now offer 614 kilometers (382 miles) on one charge, up from a previous 580 km. One of the sportiest cars in its class, it accelerates to 100 km per hour from a standstill in just 4.4 seconds.
It’s by no means the best Tesla has to offer—that’s the 150,000-euro Model S Plaid Plus, which is due next year with a range of 837 km—but it serves as a handy benchmark.
The compact crossover is expected to sell 150,000 units this year and lead the brand’s BEV model offensive. Offering up to 520 km (323 miles), it is based on a dedicated architecture dubbed MEB that ensures the most range can be coaxed out of the car.
Audi Q4 e-tron
The sister model to the VW, it too is built on the same high volume MEB platform and therefore can achieve up to 520 km in range. The duo run off the same German assembly line, and it shares a high number of parts with the ID.4.
To offer customers a more premium performance, Audi could bring the A6 e-tron with a European certified 700 km–plus (435 miles) range on one charge, and a 0–100 km per hour acceleration in fewer than four seconds. The A6 e-tron is expected to debut as early as the end of 2022 and face off with the refreshed Tesla Model S. The latter is expected to see its first European deliveries the same year.
Built in China for all global markets, the midsize SUV is in a segment above the Q4 e-tron. It uses the BMW’s fifth-generation eDrive propulsion system that will also be found in the upcoming iX and i4, which are due to debut later this year. The iX3 can achieve 458 km.
The compact EQA crossover shares many common genes with its GLA combustion engine sibling. As a result, it can manage only 426 km (264 miles)—prompting the brand to advertise instead with a figure inflated by an obsolete test cycle that no longer applies.
Mercedes also has an EQS luxury sedan. The German carmaker unveiled one this month that can drive up to 770 km by the WLTP measure. That’s thanks to being developed from the ground up as electric. It arrives toward the end of summer.
Volvo XC40 Recharge
Similar to the EQA, this crossover model is derived from a combustion engine architecture and its range shows it—at just 418 kilometers.
Volvo customers looking for better performance can, however, already purchase a Polestar 2 instead, which delivers up to 540 km, by comparison.
The first model to really scare Tesla thanks to its pedigree name, the Taycan sports sedan eschewed range for record-beating lap times around the famed Nürburgring Nordschleife, the world’s most grueling racetrack. (Musk aims to best this with the Model S Plaid.) It can drive for 484 km (300 miles). Thanks to an 800-volt electrical system, it can be fully recharged in under 30 minutes.
Ford Mustang Mach-E
The first offering from Detroit to be taken seriously by BEV buyers, this SUV can manage a very respectable 610 km (379 miles), achieved albeit with the help of a battery that at 99 kilowatt hours is unusually large. It has won over a number of fans with this solidly competitive effort. GM’s Cadillac brand hopes to mimic the success with its Lyric next year, the only Caddy with any potential to compete in Europe should it ever be exported.
Hyundai Ioniq 5
This striking midsize SUV by Hyundai’s new BEV brand Ioniq that arrives later this year is a little on the short side when it comes to range with 480 km. It uses, however, an 800-volt system like Porsche to recharge the battery to the standard 80% state of charge in only 18 minutes. It is the first model car to be built off the group’s e-GMP platform for BEV models. This will also underpin a sibling model from its Kia sister brand, the EV6, which offers a 510 km range.
Last, but certainly not least, is this futuristic entry. Nissan rarely gets credit for being the first brand to sell what is arguably the first mass-produced series production BEV: the Nissan Leaf. Over half a million units have been sold since its 2010 launch. Nissan is now following that up in the second half of this year with the Ariya SUV, which is expected to hit a range of 500 km (310 miles).
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