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Charging an electric vehicle

What’s Driving The Explosion of New Electric Vehicles?

Why We’re Seeing More and What’s Available Now

Not too long ago, an electric vehicle was an oddity to see on the road. Now, EVs seem to be everywhere, and there are about to be many more. Automobile manufacturers are poised to release several new models in different categories from economical commuter cars or sporty SUVs to pickup trucks and luxury rides.

So what prompted this shift toward EVs, and what can we expect in the future? 

The move toward EVs
Here are some of the primary reasons we are seeing more EVs on the road:

1. Reducing Emissions
Fossil fuel burning internal combustion engines are the dominant source of energy in road and aviation transportation. Electrification plays a major role in the decarbonization of ground transportation, to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Reducing GHG emissions is an important part of slowing climate change, but could also prevent millions of premature deaths due to air pollution over the next century, according to the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences.

Electrification of transportation opens a new market for energy companies and attracts more investments in renewables, while reducing dependence on fossil fuels. A recent study shows a shift to EVs result in large emissions reductions even before the power sector is fully decarbonized. In states like Minnesota, the power grid itself is rapidly moving toward clean energy, with 80% of electricity provided by renewable or zero carbon sources.

2. Expansion of EV charging networks.
To effectively transition to EVs over time, we can’t just focus on the amazing new electric vehicles hitting the market. Infrastructure, including a robust charging network, must be in place to ensure practical use. 

The Minnesota Department of Transportation’s EV Dashboard shows the expansion of charging stations around the state relative to the number of registered EVs in the area. This map can also be used to locate a charging station while on the road. 

3. Improved range of EVs.
Ten years ago, EVs had a pretty small range, meaning you couldn’t get too far from where you plug in to recharge. With increases in battery technology and capacity, that range has increased dramatically. In 2020, the EPA estimated the average range for all EV models to be 250 miles. There are now several vehicles that exceed a 400 mile range, and the range is still increasing. Couple this with public charging station expansion, and there is less concern about running out of juice on the road.

Plug-in hybrid EVs are also becoming more popular, especially in areas where the charging infrastructure for electric cars is not developing fast enough. With a hybrid, you can charge the vehicle and use it for longer journeys in electric mode. The gas engine is still there as a backup in case recharge is not possible. Braking helps recharge the EV battery while in operation, so even while using fossil fuels, the miles-per-gallon of hybrids can be quite high, saving a lot of money at the pump.

Someone charging their electric car

4. Lower EV operating costs.
On average, the EPA estimates an EV to save 60% in fuel costs over an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle. Savings vary by where you live in the country, based on charging costs, residential energy costs and whether you have solar at home. The cost of maintaining an EV is estimated at 31% less due to the lack of an ICE engine, less moving parts, no oil to change or spark plugs to replace. 

While we are all seeing sticker shock over the price of new vehicles due to semiconductor chip shortages and supply chain issues, the price of EVs has come down so that they are now competitive with ICE vehicles.  When you deduct any state and federal tax credits available on EVs at the time of purchase, the initial cost can be far less.

EV’s available now
2022 is a big year for electric cars. There is a decent choice of vehicle types available. And with more automotive manufacturers announcing plans to go all electric in the future, several more models are going into production. 

Here is a lineup of the top electric vehicles you can buy right now, edited from Tom’s Guide: 

1. KIA EV6
Price: From $40,900
Range: 310 miles
0 to 60 mph: 5.2 seconds
Drive: AWD; RWD
Availability: On sale now

Visit Kia Site

Positives:

  • Striking design
  • Up to 310 miles of range
  • Comfortable seating
  • Cool lighting
  • Lots of great tech including augmented reality heads-up display, smart parking
  • 350kW rapid charging
  • 17.6 cubic feet of trunk space.

Negatives:

  • Rear view window a bit limited, no rear wiper

2. NISSAN LEAF (2022)
Price: From $27,400
Range: 226
0 to 60: 7.4 seconds
Drive: FWD
Availability: Available Now

Visit Nissan Site

Positives:

  • Cheapest electric car in the US
  • ePedal one-pedal driving mode can be turned on or off
  • ProPilot driver assistance software
  • Roomy interior with Android Auto and CarPlay support

Negatives:

  • Cheaper 40 kWh battery model has limited range of 149 miles
  • CHAdeMO rapid charger is not the type all other automakers (except Tesla) offer
  • So-so acceleration

3. TESLA MODEL Y
Price: $62,990
Range: 330 miles
0 to 60 mph: 3.5 seconds
Drive: AWD
Availability: Now

Visit Tesla Site

Positives:

  • Lots of storage space
  • Autopilot as standard, FSD available
  • 250kW Supercharging available

Negatives:

  • No cheaper standard range model on sale
  • No Apple CarPlay or Android Auto support
As an Amazon Associate, Arvig earns from qualifying purchases.

4. TESLA MODEL 3
Price: $43,990
Range: 358 miles
0 to 60 mph: 3.1 seconds
Drive: RWD, AWD
Availability: Available now

Visit Tesla Site

Positives:

  • Forward-looking features
  • Autopilot is standard
  • Over-the-air updates
  • Good range for the price

Negatives:

  • Distracting center-only instrument display
  • No Apple CarPlay or Android Auto support

5. POLESTAR 2 (Volvo’s EV brand)
Price: From $45,900
Range: 270 miles
0 to 60 mph: 4.6 seconds
Drive: RWD / AWD
Availability: Now

Visit Polestar Site

Positives:

  • 270+ miles of range
  • Enjoyable and dynamic driving characteristics
  • Android Automotive OS
  • Driver assist system
  • Harmon Kardon sound system

Negatives:

  • Apple CarPlay support is still not implemented
  • Adaptive Cruise Control is not standard
  • RWD is slow off the line

6. HYUNDAI IONIQ 5
Price: From $39,700
Range: 300 miles
0 to 60 mph: 5.2 seconds
Drive: RWD/AWD
Availability: Now

Visit Hyundai Site

Positives:

  • Great looking exterior, mood lighting inside
  • Tons of tech including heads up display and wireless charging
  • Practical SUV design with lots of space
  • Excellent performance
  • Solid range

Negatives:

  • Expensive to buy
  • No rear wiper

7. FORD MUSTANG MACH-E
Price: $56,200
Range: 300 miles
0 to 60 mph: 6.1 seconds
Drive: RWD
Availability: Now

Visit Ford Site

Positives:

  • Sports car styling
  • Over-the-air updates

Negatives: 

  • Not really a Mustang
  • You may want to wait for the Mustang Mach-E GT for better performance and range

8. VW ID.4
Price: From $39,995
Range: 260 miles
0 to 60 mph: 5.7 seconds
Drive: RWD, AWD coming soon
Availability: RWD available now, AWD arriving late 2021

Visit Volkswagen Site 

Positives:

  • Comfortable ride with plenty of interior space
  • Ok range for an SUV
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto included
  • Free Electrify America charging for three years

Negatives:

  • Not the most exciting or fastest vehicle
  • Infotainment is buggy

EV’s Coming in 2023
In addition to many new EVs starting production next year, there are new vehicles expected to hit the sales floor in 2023.

Audi A6 e-tron
The attractive A6 e-tron will be sold alongside its gasoline equivalent next year. This four-door luxury sedan will include cutting-edge tech and super-fast charging times. Prices are projected to start around $80,000.

Canoo Pickup Truck
The demo model of the Canoo pickup truck has been out for a while, and next year we might actually see it for sale. This futuristic looking pickup is part of a lineup from Arkansas based start-up company Canoo, who hopes to also produce vans for the rental, delivery and ride share markets. The pickup will be available in rear-wheel or all-wheel drive which is said to deliver 600-horsepower and 550-pound feet of torque. Driving range will be around 200 miles. The starting price has not been released. 

Chevrolet Silverado Electric
Futuristic vehicles are interesting, but it will be great to see the EV version of Chevy’s popular Silverado roll out in late 2023. Look for four-wheel steering, standard all-wheel drive and up to 664-horsepower. Range is said to be a whopping 400 miles. Starting price is listed at $39,900, and you can reserve one today through Chevrolet.

When will it get here?
Here are three vehicles we’ve heard a lot about, but won’t see until at least 2024.

Volkswagen ID.Buzz
The buzz is certainly strong on Volkswagen’s EV, that is an updated version of the iconic microbus of yesteryear. A long-wheelbase version of the ID.Buzz is rumored to arrive in the U.S. in 2024. In addition to the nod to history, the front view of the EV microbus appears to be smiling, making it possibly the happiest looking EV to come to market!

Tesla Cybertruck and Roadster
The Tesla Cybertruck has an interesting appearance, somewhere between sci-fi and desert military. But if that’s your thing (no judgment) you can reserve one now for $100. Production is estimated to start in late 2023. 

In contrast to Cybertruck’s boxy lines, the Tesla Roadster has curves like liquid glass. The sports car is purported to go 0 to 60 mph in 1.9 seconds, have a top speed of 250mph and a range of 612 miles. You can reserve one now for $50,000.

In addition to what is already available on the market, these new EVs mean there will be no shortage of zero emission vehicles to choose from, now and in the future.

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