Not Your Daddy’s Prius: New Electric Vehicles for 2019

EVs becoming more affordable and efficient

The electric vehicle space used to be limited to a few odd-looking models, most with high price tags. But as America pushes toward reducing fossil fuel use, EV automobile design is getting more exciting and diverse, incorporating a broader spectrum of price points. While the range, how far one can drive without stopping to recharge, is still in the modest 150 to 250-mile area for most vehicles, quick charging and more EV “stations” have alleviated many concerns of running out of energy while on the road.

EV Trivia What year did the first electric car hit the road in the U.S.?
(answer at the end of the article)

What’s new for EVs in 2019
One of the greatest evolving style improvements is in cargo space. In the past, EV batteries were added on to an existing frame design. Automakers are now packing batteries beneath the car floor, creating larger storage capacity and roomy interiors. Tesla models, the Chevrolet Bolt and Nissan Leaf are three with impressive cargo areas.

Looking for an EV sports car? The sleek Porsche Taycan is not only gorgeous, it introduces an 800-volt system and the fastest EV charging to date. Porsche claims the two permanently excited synchronous motors can accelerate the electric sports car to 124.28 mph in under 12 seconds, and hold the top speed without overheating. The Taycan has range options between 200 and 300 miles.

Even though it’s a high-end vehicle at $90,000, the technology will trickle down to the entire industry. You can drool over the Taycan on the Porsche website.

Corporate cousins, the Hyundai Kona Electric already out on the market, and Kia Niro EV due out later this year, have a similar look, performance and price tag, hovering at about $30,000 after the federal tax rebate. The compact SUV body style are popular in the U.S. market. Both model brands will come with standard and high range batteries, with the larger 64 kWh version anticipated to result in about 250 miles of range.

Volvo also promises a new compact SUV this year—an all-electric version of its popular XC40. This will be the first EV for the automaker. The price is rumored at $50,000, and is purported to have a 200-mile range.

Larger SUVs are also making an EV showing, including the Mercedes-Benz EQC and Audi E-tron, both with stiff sticker prices.

Going tiny, BMW has a cute electric Mini promised this year. But it won’t include the new fifth-generation powertrain technology- that will premier in the BMW iX3 EV. Even though the iX3 EV is not due out until 2021, the manufacturer is apparently taking orders now.

While not new, the Nissan Leaf is expected to get a 60 kWh battery pack this year, pushing it into the 200 mile range.

Tesla continues to whirl away. The EV champion will introduce a base version of the Model 3 to the U.S. Market, at a $35,000 price point.

The long-anticipated Tesla pickup truck is still a question mark, but we can expect a prototype of Tesla’s crossover Model Y to be unveiled this year.

The existing Model S and Model X are scheduled for a refresh this summer, focused on the interior and battery pack

Why purchase an EV

  • Industry commitment. Nearly every major brand has announced significant future electrification plans. EVs are the future of the industry. This will also mean increased availability in every state.
  • Range. EV range has increased, and there are diverse choices of vehicles. In addition, plug-in hybrids offer a certain amount of all-electric range along with a gas-powered engine for range extension, getting far better mileage than all-gas vehicles.
  • Charging. Charging technology is getting faster. While the most efficient method is to just plug in your vehicle overnight while you sleep, there are “fast chargers” that reduce charging time to a fraction, and maps of EV stations along highway routes where you can recharge while shopping or enjoying a meal. Installation of charging stations across the country are increasing at a rapid pace.
  • Cost. Electricity is cheaper than gas, and EVs are energy efficient. They also require very little maintenance because there are fewer working parts. There is currently a federal tax rebate of up to $7,500. When you factor in lower cost to operate and rebate savings, EVs are in the same purchase price category as gas vehicles.
  • Service. Automakers such as GM, Ford, and Nissan will service your electric vehicle at nearly any dealership nationwide. Tesla will send a repair technician to your home if there’s not a service center in the area.
  • Fire safety. The chance of an EV’s lithium ion battery catching fire in an accident is about the same or less than a fire in a gas or diesel vehicle, according to a study done by Battelle for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
  • Performance. Early EVs were jokingly compared to golf carts when it came to power. With today’s electric propulsion systems, EVs are much more advanced, providing instant torque and great 0 to 60 acceleration times.

A sidestep into auto emissions
In researching this article, I discovered many of the new EV auto releases were scheduled for CARB states. Having nothing to do with starchy food intake, CARB stands for California Air Resources Board, a statewide “clean air agency,” placing even stricter emissions laws than the federal Environmental Protection Agency. It came about in the 1960s because of California’s air pollution problems. In addition to California, 15 other states have voluntarily put CARB standards and emissions testing in place, including Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Washington D.C.

Minnesota does not have any vehicle emissions test requirements, and is not a CARB state. But you can order an EV vehicle through a dealer. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency keeps track of the number of drivers, the number of miles, and the volume of emissions produced every year in the state. The data from MPCA show numbers are increasing and that air pollution is an ongoing health concern.

While we’re at it, I’ll throw out another term you will start hearing a lot if you follow the EV market- ZEV states. This indicates states that have regulations requiring automakers to sell a certain volume of electric cars and trucks, or Zero Emission Vehicles. The program gives each automaker ZEV credits. Plug-in hybrids are included in the program, but 45 percent must be all electric vehicles. So far, the CARB managed ZEV program has been adopted by Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Trivia Answer: The first successful electric car in the U.S. made its debut in 1890 built by Oliver O. Fritchle, a chemist from Iowa. By the early 1900s, electric cars made up one-third of all vehicles on the road, including New York city taxis. Women preferred them because they were not loud, were easier to operate and didn’t smell. But the rise of cheap gas and the invention of the electric ignition pushed electric cars out of the market for the longer range of gas-powered vehicles.

There is so much new EV development being revealed this year, and this is only the beginning. Autoweek anticipates “a massive acceleration of new EV models coming to market” by 2021.

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