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A Look At 2014’s New Electric Cars

Originally published on Sustainnovate.

2014 was another big year for electric vehicle progress (or “the Evolution of Electric Cars,” as I called it earlier this year). Six new mass-market electric vehicles arrived on the market in the US and Europe, and some of them have been produced and selling at a high rate. In this article, I’ll quickly run down the key specs about each of these and some of my thoughts on the vehicles and how they fit into the overall electric car market.

Notably, 5 of these cars come from German manufacturers, showing that these large car manufacturers are at least working their way into the electric vehicle space, if not beginning a full transition. (I think it’s the latter, but this is still a topic open for debate.)

Starting with the most recent entrances to the market, here are the 6 new electric car models of 2014:

Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid

Porsche

The Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid debuted rather quietly at the Paris Motor Show in September. Surprisingly, this beauty of an electric vehicle has hardly gotten any press, but that’s not to say that Porsche isn’t genuinely behind it. A plug-in hybrid electric version of the Porsche Panamera has accounted for 9% of all Porsche Panamera sales, last I heard, and it seems Porsche is aiming to go a similar route with the Cayenne line. Remember that Dr. Ferdinand Porsche’s first car, built when he was 23, was an electric car.

The Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid can go from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.4 seconds, has a top speed of 151 mph, has an estimated all-electric range of 14 miles, and has an MSRP of $76,400. It’s not going to fit everyone’s budget, but it also has several features well above the level of the average vehicle.

Volkswagen e-Golf

VW

The Volkswagen e-Golf hit markets just a tad earlier than the Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid. It is a much more financially accessible car, and it seems to be liked by early reviewers. The problem is that it essentially competes with the Nissan LEAF but comes in several thousand dollars above the LEAF. Unless you simply prefer VW, or prefer the e-Golf over the LEAF for aesthetic or design reasons, it’s hard to justify buying an e-Golf over a LEAF.

The details for the e-Golf (and LEAF in parentheses) are as follows: 116 MPGe (114 MPGe), 83 miles of range on a full charge (84 miles), 5 seats (5 seats), US MSRP before any tax credits or subsidies = $35,445 ($29,010). I know which I’d choose.

Kia Soul EV

Kia

The Kia Soul EV is another LEAF competitor, but it also has enough of a different look and internal space benefits that it is more of its own thing. That’s helpful, as it’s very hard to compete with the LEAF on price. Though, the Soul EV comes closer than the LEAF in that regard. I can see sales of the Soul EV hitting a decent level if Kia actually tries to produce and sell the vehicle in volume.

The Soul EV has a rated fuel economy of 105 MPGe and a rated all-electric range of 93 miles. It also seats five, and it has a US MSRP of $33,700. Also, hamsters absolutely love it.

BMW i8

BMW i8

I’m not sure if the BMW i8 should actually be on this list. It did hit the market in 2014, and it is a plug-in hybrid, but it was sold old before even arriving in its first home. I guess that’s a sign of its high desirability, as is its $135,700 price tag. (Yes, $135,700!)

If you haven’t already moved on to the next vehicle after seeing that price tag, here are the key specs for the BMW i8: 0 to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds, 15 miles of all-electric range, and a combined fuel economy of 76 MPGe. The car seats four… in style.

Mercedes B-Class Electric

Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive

Getting back to more-accessible and all-electric cars, the Mercedes B-Class Electric is decently priced at $41,450 before incentives. With Tesla brains and muscles, as well as a good bit of luxury, the price jump above the LEAF and its competitors is justified. It is also quite a bit lower than the high-end Tesla Model S and Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid (not to mention the extravagant BMW i8). A friend of mine recently bought the B-Class Electric and is loving it so far. Another friend test drove it as well as a competing BMW (see below) and gave the B-Class Electric a better review.

The 2014 Mercedes B-Class Electric has a range of 87 miles on a full charge, a combined MPGe rating of 84, and can get from 0 to 60 mph in under 8 seconds. Mercedes writes: “Its advanced electric motor generates 251 lb-ft of torque (comparable to our best-selling sedan) starting at 0 rpm. So you get the full reward of its performance at any speed. Think of it as the strong, silent type.” This is the first modern electric vehicle from Mercedes… coming over a century after its first, 1906 electric car model.

BMW i3

BMW i3

The top competitor to the Mercedes B-Class Electric has got to be the new-in-2014 BMW i3. The i3 is almost exactly the same price, at $41,350, making you choose on solely the benefits and minuses of each vehicle. You can have a thorough look at those in various reviews, including this one that puts the Mercedes in the lead and this one that puts the BMW in the lead. As a stand-alone review, here are my detailed thoughts on the i3, which I loved.

Overall, the i3 comes with a lot of comfort, excellent and actually record-setting efficiency (124 MPGe), great acceleration (0 to 60 in around 7 seconds), and 81 miles of range. It’s got a funky look that some love and some hate, and some (like me) are ambivalent about. And it has the BMW badge. If I were on the market for a car, this very well might be the one I went for. (But, admittedly, I haven’t yet tested out the B-Class Electric.)

All images by manufacturers except the last two, which were taken by Kyle Field (CC BY-SA 4.0 license) and Marika Shahan (CC BY-SA 4.0 license), respectively.

 
 
 
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Written By

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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