These models will determine whether we’re ready for an assault of EV models

2018 was a banner year for electric vehicles. Throughout the year, we’ve seen more EV’s debut than any other time in auto history. It’s a clear sign that EVs have moved beyond the point of being novelties. The sudden rush among automakers to develop electric cars isn’t a niche endeavor anymore. It’s become the key to the future of the whole business. So if you thought that 2018 was a big year for electric vehicles, 2019 is shaping up to be an even bigger year for the segment. Just about every relevant automaker has its hands on the EV pot, right there with startup companies that are looking for relevancy in an industry that’s become as competitive as it’s ever been. Priorities are shifting in this business if they haven’t shifted already. 2019 will be the year when a lot of these automakers show off the fruits of their labor, including these eight models that could revolutionize the whole segment and plot the long-term course of the industry.

Volkswagen I.D.

The 2020 Volkswagen ID Visits South Africa as Part of It's Final Testing Phase
- image 810696

How can a nondescript electric vehicle with a 168-horsepower electric motor and a range between 249 miles to 373 miles on a single charge break boundaries? If that car comes from Volkswagen, that’s how. Depending on who you ask, Volkswagen is either the largest or second-largest automaker in the world. It’s also responsible for Dieselgate, without question the biggest automotive scandal in recent years. In an effort to turn over a new chapter in its history and wash its hands from the stain left behind by Dieselgate, the German auto titan is going all-out on electric vehicles with a full lineup of EVs scheduled to launch in the next few years.

The first of those models is the ID, a small battery-powered hatchback that, on paper, doesn’t really boast eye-popping performance potential other than VW’s claim that it can go almost 400 miles on a single charge.

No, the ID doesn’t make this list because of itself. It makes this list because of what it represents for Volkswagen. The German automaker is going all-in on electric vehicles, having invested more than $15 billion on the business with a goal towards producing as much as 1 million EVs by 2025 and 15 million EVs that will be based on the first-generation MEB platform. It’s an ambitious plan from an ambitious — and well-funded — automaker. The first phase of that plan is tied directly to the ID hatchback.

Read our full review on the 2016 Volkswagen ID Concept.

Porsche Taycan

2020 Porsche Taycan Spyshots Exterior
- image 736103

Volkswagen isn’t the only automaker that’s debuting an electric car in 2019. One of the brands it owns, Porsche, is also on the same boat, albeit on a far smaller scale, with the highly anticipated Taycan four-door sports car.

The Taycan is ground-breaking in a lot of ways, not the least of which is Porsche’s plan to turn it loose on the Tesla Model S.

Whether the Taycan can compete with the Model S remains to be seen, but the indication is that it’s capable of doing just that. Porsche hasn’t released official power numbers, but it did say that the Taycan’s electric motors can produce more than 600 horsepower, allowing it to sprint from 0 to 62 mph in less than 3.5 seconds. The four-door sports car also boasts a range of more than 300 miles — 311 miles, to be exact — but it’s the 800-volt system in the drivetrain that sets the Taycan apart. Porsche says that this setup is groundbreaking, even for prototypes. It also requires a new generation of charging stations, which Porsche is already building with an eye towards launching them in time for the production model’s own release. If everything goes according to Stuttgart’s plan, this system will allow the Taycan to charge up to 80-percent capacity in 15 minutes, roughly the same amount of time it takes for most of us to sip through a cup of coffee.

Powertrain: Two synchronous motors
Output: More than 600 horsepower
0 to 60 MPH Time: Less than 3.5 seconds
Range: 311 miles

Read our full review on the 2020 Porsche Taycan

Polestar 2

2018 Polestar 1
- image 792611

Note: Polestar 1 pictured here.

The Polestar 1 is getting all the attention these days and justifiably so. It’s the first offering of Volvo’s newly minted performance company, and it also happens to be a stunner with incredible performance chops.

But come next year, the plug-in hybrid Polestar 1 will be joined in the fold by the all-electric Polestar 2 sedan.

We know at this point that the Polestar 2 will ride on the same underpinnings as the Volvo XC40 and that, at least according to the company, it will pack around 400 horsepower and run for 350 miles on a single charge. The numbers are flattering because, if accurate, the Polestar 2 will produce more power than the Tesla Model 3 — the model it’s going to compete against — while running longer on a single charge. Polestar is also preparing the electric sedan as the entry-level, volume unit of its lineup, complementing the more upscale Polestar 1 and the Polestar 3 SUV that’s expected to launch in the next few years. As important as the Polestar 1 is in creating the company’s identity, the Polestar 2 is going to be the model that’s responsible for the company’s success. It’s a lot to ask of a model that hasn’t debuted yet, but 2019 should be the year when we see the all-electric sedan in the flesh, ahead of its production date of 2020.

Powertrain: Electric motors
Output: 400 horsepower
Range: 350 miles

Read our full review on the 2018 Polestar 1.

Mercedes EQC

2019 Mercedes-Benz EQC Exterior
- image 794239

Mercedes is in the same boat as Volkswagen and so many other automakers in the industry. 2019 is shaping up to be a big year for the Silver Arrows as it is expected to roll out the EQC, the first model from its newly created all-electric sub-brand, EQ. In a lot of ways, think of the EQC as Mercedes’ version of the Volkswagen ID.

It’s the automaker’s first electric vehicle that will wear an EQ badge. More to that, it’s going to lay the foundation on what the EQ brand will eventually become.

There EQC is powered by a pair of electric motors that produce 402 horses and 564 pound-feet of torque, all of which goes to all four wheels of the SUV. An 80 kWh battery pack complements the motors, delivering a range of 279 miles on a single charge, or so Mercedes claims. A sprint-to-60-mph time of 4.9 seconds is in the cards, as is a top speed of 112 mph. Granted, the numbers don’t jump out of the screen, but don’t mistake the EQC’s capability as the signature of its overall importance for Mercedes. The EQC’s importance is centered on its status as the first EQ model to hit the streets. More models will follow soon, but their respective arrivals are predicated on how the EQC fares once it launches in 2019.

Powertrain: Two electric motors and an 80 kWh battery pack
Output: 402 horsepower and 564 pound-feet of torque
0 to 60 MPH: 4.9 seconds
Top speed: 112 mph
Drive Type: All-wheel-drive
Range: 279 miles

Read our full review on the 2019 Mercedes EQC

Tesla Semi

The electric cars that will revolutionize the market in 2019
- image 746088

At this point, it’s hard to trust Tesla to nail its production targets. We’ve learned our lesson from production issues attitude to the Model S, Model X, and most recently, the Model 3. But we’re not ambivalent to current trends, either. Tesla, for the most part, has revolutionized the all-electric car segment, and, if all goes according to plan — a tough ask, but who knows — 2019 could be the year that Tesla turns the trucking industry upside its head.

The Tesla Semi is a real thing, folks. It’s just a matter of when we’re actually going to see it.

Granted, Tesla has been on coy on dropping details about the all-electric truck, most notably the kWh or physical size of the truck’s battery pack. We do know that the truck’s electric motors are derived from those used on the Model 3. The automaker also says that they’re validated to last more than a million miles. Tesla also claims that the aforementioned battery pack has enough juice to allow the Semi to run for 500 miles at the legal load limit of 80,000 pounds. When unloaded, the Semi can also sprint from 0 to 60 mph in 5.0 seconds, an unheard of number for a vehicle of its size. When fully loaded, that sprint time takes 20 seconds for reasons that are pretty clear to everyone. Still, it’s almost 40 seconds quicker than a conventional fully loaded semi. Only time will tell if Tesla can actually build the Semi, but if we’re betting on a company that can prove a lot of people wrong, we’re taking Tesla in a straight up money line.

Powertrain: Electric motors and an undisclosed battery pack
0 to 60 MPH (unloaded): 5.0 seconds
0 to 60 mph (fully loaded): 20 seconds
Range: 500 miles
Maximum payload: 80,000 pounds

Read our full review on the 2019 Tesla Semi

Kia Niro EV and Hyundai Kona Electric

2019 Hyundai Kona Electric
- image 809875

The Kia Niro EV and the Hyundai Kona Electric — I’m putting these two together because not only are they platform siblings, they’re also two of the first all-electric SUVs to hit production for the non-premium market. Both Kia and Hyundai have a lot riding on the success of the Niro EV and Kona Electric, respectively, in the U.S. The Niro EV is powered by an electric motor and a 64 kWh battery that produce a solid 201 horsepower and 291 pound-feet of torque. It’s worth noting, too, that the range-topping version of the Hyundai Kona Electric not only shares the same setup as the Niro EV, but both models are actually being developed alongside each other.

Granted, neither the Niro EV nor the Kona Electric is as powerful as premium electric SUVs like the Tesla Model X, Mercedes EQC, and Jaguar I-Pace, but none of these models come as cheaply as these two models.

Pricing for both models haven’t been revealed, but both are expected to carry price tags that start at around $30,000, far and away cheaper than any of the premium electric SUVs. If you’re looking for an electric SUV but you’re not willing to pay the premium to score a Tesla Model X or a Mercedes EQC, the Kia Niro EV or the Hyundai Kona Electric could be the answer for you. Not only are they scheduled to arrive in 2019, but they’re also laying the groundwork for future “affordable” electric cars.

Powertrain: Electric motor and 64 kWh battery pack
Output: 201 horsepower and 291 pound-feet of torque
0 to 60 MPH: 7.8 seconds
Top speed: 104 mph
Range: 292 miles

Read our full review on the Kia Niro EV and Hyundai Kona Electric

What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: