After years of fuel-burning, air-polluting, ozone-busting recklessness, the world is starting to wise up. Eco-minded environmentalists are finally starting to swing the pendulum from fossil fuels to more sustainable sources of power — and electric cars are leading the charge.
In fact, over 270 international start-ups are revving up the electric vehicle industry, and many existing corporations are taking up the technology, too. Even the UK government has pledged that the sales of petrol and diesel cars will be banned by 2040.
So, with more than 43 confirmed electric model launches before the end of 2019, the question is: Will 2019 be the year you finally buy an electric car?
They make the best sports cars — no, really...
We know, everyone loves the throaty roar of an untempered, untamed V8 — but the fact of the matter is that electric motors make for better sports cars these days. With instant torque and unrivalled levels of responsiveness, these battery-powered sportsters are well worth your time.
“The point of doing this,” said Elon Musk upon revealing the 2020 Tesla Roadster, “is to give a hardcore smackdown to gasoline cars.”
And he’s well on the way to the knockout. Pre-orders of the Roadster began in 2017, and deliveries begin at the end of this year. And what a car. The Roadster is the sleek, pointy poster boy for what the electric car industry can achieve — with a 0-60 mph time of just 1.9 seconds, it is the fastest car in the world. And, thanks to a 620 mile range on a single charge, it’s also one of the most economical.
Of course, you would expect that from Tesla. They are, after all, a company with a sole battery-powered purpose, an intergalactically well-equipped R&D division and a real life Tony Stark behind the wheel. But almost every mainstream car manufacture is now at least dabbling in the market — with some very impressive results.
Enter Porsche’s Mission E, a sports car straight from the future that will go into production this year at the German carmaker’s Zuffenhausen plant. With a projected annual run of around 40,000 cars, it’ll be one of the most popular all-electric sports cars out there — and one Porsche hopes will recharge the lagging reputation of electric vehicles.
“The Mission E Cross Turismo is an expression of how we envision the all-electric future,” says Oliver Blume, CEO of Porsche AG. “It combines sportiness and everyday practicality in unique style. Our vehicle will be fast to drive, but also quick to recharge and able to replicate its performance time after time.”
"The Mission E Cross Turismo is an expression of how we envision the all-electric future..."
There’s a definite focus on the practical when it comes to Tesla and Porsche’s electric offerings. But electric cars are also chasing the fun Sunday driver sector as well — with an eye to developing the next ‘hobby’ car.
Morgan Motors are one such brand. They may have shelved plans for their electric EV3 last autumn, but the three-wheeler sits pretty as an indicator of the novel possibilities of the market. Pricing and performance figures for the abandoned project were comparable to the petrol 3 wheeler, too — positing the car as a viable alternative to their fossil-fuel-powered fare.
And, although the car isn’t set to go into production any time soon, Morgan’s Managing Director Steve Morris says that his brand are still “absolutely committed to an electric future”.
The heavy-hitters of the electric car industry are still SUVs
For all the quick, slick sports cars, the big sellers of the electric car market are still SUVs. From Tesla’s Model X to Jaguar’s I-Pace, these are the practical options — cars in which you can fit your entire family, and charge up in the garage overnight before the school run.
But that doesn’t mean that they’re boring. Just take the Mercedes Benz Concept EQ — not available yet, but an exciting glimpse into the future of the mainstream manufacturer’s plans. Equipped with new wireless charging technology, Mercedes will create only 10 of these SUVs before 2022 — but they show a smart awareness of the larger electric car infrastructure.
Public charging may be free for now, but as more and more of us make the change to electric cars, it’ll only be a matter of time before we have to pay to power up. And Mercedes is well aware of this, having loaded a ‘Charge&Pay’ system into their concept EQ.
“The new EQ brand goes far beyond electric vehicles,” says Dr Dieter Zetsche, Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. “EQ stands for a comprehensive electric ecosystem of services, technologies and innovations.”
"The new EQ brand goes far beyond electric vehicles..."
Tesla, too, have used their electric SUV output to show a savvy understanding of the future of electric cars. Not only are the brand’s rapid chargers one of three types on British roads — the others being CCS and Type2 — the total number of these power-up points are growing. In November 2018 alone, 596 ports were added along UK roadways.
Gentleman’s Journal took a Tesla Model X on a tour of these charging points. To test the SUV’s viability as a roadtrip machine, we headed to Europe for a six country roadtrip in the car — and it proved itself handsomely. It’s one of the most popular electric cars, too, with 106,689 of the Xs rolling off the international production line so far. Compare that to the 150,000 electric cars total on British roads, and its popularity is clear.
The I-Pace from Jaguar tells a similar story. The first premium SUV from an European automaker, the I-Pace was launched in 2018 — and borrows tech from the Formula E racing programme (itself a fast-emerging form of motorsport and indicator that we should all be taking electric cars a little more seriously).
Like the Mercedes above, Jaguar have also created a more technologically-minded car, and one with an app to increase connectivity. “Where other companies talk about the future,” says CEO Dr Ralf Speth simply, “we build it”.
Electric cars range from the practical to the luxurious
2019 truly is the first year electric cars have covered all bases. Elon Musk is even launching Tesla’s first HGV. But the everyday driver is where we can be most critical of these cars: Just how well can they replace the most common cars on the road?
Very well, it turns out. And this year we’re most excited for the Audi e-tron Sportback, a practical, beautiful version of Audi’s pioneering electric four-wheeler.
“It’s the first electric car in its competitive field that is fit for everyday use,” says Rupert Stadler, Chariman of Audi AG. “With a range of over 310 miles and the special electric driving experience, we will make this sporty SUV the must-have product of the next decade. It’s an emotional coupé version that is thrillingly identifiable as an electric car at the very first glance.”
"It’s the first electric car in its competitive field that is fit for everyday use..."
Even luxury marques such as Aston Martin and Bentley are getting in on the action. And, although Aston Martin’s Rapide E still only officially exists in sketches, Bentley’s EXP 12 is a stunning example of how well electric cars can use futuristic design cues to distance them from the petrol-powered crowd.
Launched at the Geneva Motor Show in 2017, the Bentley was described as “a glimpse of an exquisite yet truly sustainable future,” as well as “the future of luxury”. And it truly is a grand tourer for the modern age, boasting copper highlights to subtly acknowledge the car’s status as a fully electric vehicle.
And this is the appeal of the electric car. Some are practical, some are decadent — but all are equipped for the future. So with such a range now available, the question shouldn’t be ‘Will 2019 be the year I finally buy an electric car?’
Rather, it should be: ‘Which one?’
Not fond of looking to the future? These are the modern classics set to appreciate in 2019…