Note: This article was published in January 2018. An updated piece on electric cars on the market and our reviews of them is coming soon. In the meantime, you can see all models in our Electric Car Guide. You can also find plug-in hybrid options there.
With the intent being to educate those in the USA who are now in the market for an all-electric vehicle, I’m going to provide an overview here of the widely available and mass produced options out there. There’s more on the market than the Tesla Model 3, Tesla Model S, Tesla Model X, Nissan LEAF, and Chevy Bolt … but not a lot more.
Notably, I’m not going to be talking here about compliance cars only found in California, or anything like that. The models that I’ll be skipping here as a result will include: the Fiat 500e; the Volkswagen e-Golf (not a compliance car in Europe, I know, but it is in the USA); the discontinued Mitsubishi i-MiEV; and Mercedes-Benz B250e, among others. I’m also skipping highly limited-run supercars like the NIO EP9 and the Rimac offerings.
The all-electric models listed below will all be widely available. Though, it should be realized that some options are still much harder to find than others, as some manufacturer dealer networks are less willing to push electric vehicles than others and some are limited by production constraints.
The region where you are located will be important in that respect. A Chevy dealer in California, for instance, may be happy to sell you a Chevy Bolt (and home to sales reps who are well informed about the model), but that doesn’t mean that one in rural Louisiana will even employ people who know what you’re talking about.
Without further to do…
All-Electric Vehicles For Sale In The USA (2017/2018 Model Years)
Chevy Bolt EV
I’ll start out here with the Chevy Bolt EV, GM’s first real mass-produced all-electric car (yes, I’m considering the doomed EV1 and compliance Chevy Spark EV as highly limited runs).
The Chevy Bolt EV features a US EPA range rating of 238 miles (383 km) per full charge, making the model one of the only options out there for those who want an all-electric vehicle with a 200+ mile range.
The impressive range is the result of a 60 kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery pack. The battery pack itself utilizes LG Chem nickel-rich lithium-ion battery cells.
The model also features a US EPA fuel efficiency rating of 119 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe). Other specs:
- 16.9 cubic feet of cargo space — not bad for such a compact car
- 150 kW (200 horsepower) power
- 266 pound-feet of torque
- 238 miles (383 km) of range
The model is classified by the US EPA as “small station wagon,” with the fairly large hatchback opening being perhaps it’s most defining characteristic.
BMW i3 (+BMW i3 REx)
Next up, we have the BMW i3 (and the BMW i3 REx). The newest iteration of the BMW i3 features 94 Ah Samsung SDI lithium-ion battery cells situated in a 33 kWh battery pack, and an impressive 118 MPGe (EPA fuel efficiency rating). Other specs + range again:
- 15.1 cubic feet of cargo space
- 125 kW (168 horsepower)
- 184 pound-feet of torque
- 114 miles (183 km) of range
With regard to the newest iteration of the BMW i3 REx, that option possesses a 97 mile (156 km) US EPA range rating for the all-electric system, paired with a 2.4 gallon gas/petrol range-extender system, allowing for a total range of 180 miles (290 km) per full tank + full charge. The new BMW i3 REx was granted a 111 MPGe rating by the US EPA. Due to the range extender, this option comes with just 9.2 cubic feet of cargo space with the back seats up.
What else stands out about the BMW i3? Extensive use of carbon fiber in the body panels, the use of rear suicide doors, a large hatchback opening, and a polarizing appearance.
Hyundai Ioniq Electric
Photo by Kyle Field | CleanTechnica
We’ll move on now to the Hyundai Ioniq Electric. The current all-electric version of the versatile Hyundai Ioniq platform features a 28 kWh battery pack, which seems small, but its hyper efficient (aerodynamic) design results in an accompanying US EPA range rating of 124 miles (200 km) per full charge.
It’s notable here that the company is planning for the model to receive a substantial range upgrade — up to 200 miles per full charge — within the year. Key specs (for now):
- 23.8 cubic feet of cargo space
- 88 kW (118 horsepower)
- 215 pound-feet of torque
- 136 MPGe
- 25 kWh per 100 miles traveled
- 124 miles (200 km)
I’ll note here that “currently” the model is only available in the US to California residents, but that this is supposed to change within the near future.
Check out our review of the Hyundai Ioniq Electric.
Kia Soul EV
Photo by Kyle Field | CleanTechnica
Next up is the Kia Soul EV — which was recently updated to receive a slightly larger battery pack and slightly improved range, thanks to a new 31.8 kWh battery pack. Here are the core specs for the newest iteration of the model via the US EPA:
- 18.8 cubic feet of cargo space
- 81.4 kW (109 horsepower)
- 210 pound-feet of torque
- 108 MPGe (124/93)
- 111 miles (179 km) of range per full charge
The very-soon-to-be-available-in-the-USA 2018 Nissan LEAF is a refreshed and heavily updated version of the popular all-electric hatchback. The new model year of the iconic model — available in the USA beginning in January 2018 — features an updated, more conventional styling and significantly better range and performance specs.
The 2018 Nissan LEAF is offering a 40 kWh battery pack, which will allow for a US EPA range rating of around 150 miles per full charge — or so Nissan expects anyways. That means the car has more electric range than every other electric option on the market in the US except Tesla’s trio and the Chevy Bolt … but probably not for too long.
Here are the key specs as we have them now:
- 23.6 cubic feet of cargo space
- 147 horsepower
- 236 pound-feet of torque
- 150 miles (240 km) of range per full charge
Other notable features include the availability of the ProPILOT semi-autonomous driving suite as an option — which allows for fully autonomous single-lane travel when on divided highways.
Very notably, the 2019 model year of the Nissan LEAF will reportedly be getting a substantial range increase — up to around 200 miles per full charge in the real world.
We now come to the 4th generation of Daimler’s electrified smart fortwo ultra-compact car. Available in the USA as of August 2017, the new model year possesses a very limited range of just 58 miles per full charge (as per the US EPA), but it is fairly energy efficient, and owing to its compact nature, it is probably practical for some urban peoples’ uses.
The car features a 17.6 kWh battery pack and a fuel efficiency rating of 108 MPGe (124/94).
- 8.9 cubic feet of cargo space
- 80 horsepower
- 118 pound-feet of torque
- 58 miles (93 km) of range per full charge
Tesla Model S
The Tesla Model S is one of the best selling all-electric vehicles in the USA currently, but it’s quite expensive by most people’s standards. The cheapest variant of the Tesla Model S currently, the 75D (all Tesla Model S sedans sold right now are AWD) begins at $74,500.
As there has been a very large number of different iterations of the Tesla Model S sold to date, rather than list all of those available now, I’ll just draw attention to the outliers.
Those looking for the hugest performing option will want the Model S P100D, which offers:
- 0-60 mph acceleration time of 2.28 seconds
- 687 pound-feet of torque
- 762 horsepower (568 kW)
- 155 mph (250 km/h) top speed (electronically limited)
- 98 MPGe US EPA efficiency rating
- 30 cubic feet of cargo space
- 315 miles (507 km) of range per full charge
Those wanting the longest range possible will want the Model S 100D, which offers a US EPA range rating (a real-world range rating, that is) of 335 miles (539 km) per full charge.
Those wanting a new Model S but not wanting to spend more then they have to will want the Model S 75D.
Some things to note about all Tesla Model S sedans, regardless of trim: they all feature a “perfect” NHTSA safety rating; they all feature a drag coefficient of just 0.24; they all feature a frunk (a trunk where the engine would be); they all feature access to the company’s impressive and growing Supercharger network; they all feature semi-autonomous driving features as an option; and they are all buyable through the company’s reportedly hassle-free shops (no dealership scams going on there).
I’ll note here before ending this section that while the Tesla Model S is extremely energy efficient as compared to petrol/gas and diesel competitors in the full-size luxury segment, those who want a truly energy efficient car will need to go with something smaller.
Check out our long-term review of a Tesla Model S 85D.
Tesla Model X
The Tesla Model X is an all-electric SUV on offer by manufacturer Tesla in a number of different variants. Notably, the Tesla Model X is essentially the only all-electric production vehicle available in the USA with a substantial towing capacity (up to 5,000 lbs) … something you have have seen was just utilized to tow a semi truck after a snowstorm.
The Model X, owing to the low center of gravity provided by the heavy battery pack in the floor, is probably the safest SUV in the world by a fair margin. According to the US NHTSA, the Model X is second (of all vehicles tested) only to the Tesla Model S as regarding low probability of injury.
The Model X is also the quickest SUV in the world — by far. In fact, it’s one of the quickest production vehicles of any type. Basically, you can’t beat a Model X if you want an SUV with extreme power and acceleration.
Those wanting a Tesla Model X with the longest range possible will want the Model X 100D, which features a US EPA range rating of 295 miles per full charge.
Fuel economy is decent (the Model X P100D variant features a 86 MPGe rating), but those wanting a highly fuel/energy-efficient vehicle will need to choose a smaller hatchback offering.
Tesla Model 3
The Tesla Model 3 is technically now available in the US, but those wanting one still have quite a wait ahead of them owing to a large order backlog.
The Tesla Model 3 is essentially the smaller and much more fuel/energy-efficient version of the Tesla Model S. The only variant being delivered as of yet is the long-range 75 kWh battery pack option — which provides a US EPA range rating of 310 miles (500 km) per full charge — but a 220 mile (350 km) variant, outfitted with a 50 kWh battery pack, will be available at some point as well.
The 310 mile version of the Model 3 has been granted a 126 MPGe fuel efficiency rating by the US EPA. The 220 mile variant will of course possess a much greater energy efficiency than that, owing to a greatly reduced battery weight handicap.
The Tesla Model 3 features a total system output of 258 horsepower (192 kW) and 317 pound-feet of torque. Very notably, the model is not a hatchback, but features a relatively standard sedan trunk, like that of a Volvo S60.
Options include Tesla’s highly regarded semi-autonomous Autopilot suite, access to the Supercharger network, a HEPA-rated air filter system, and AWD, amongst other things.
- 15 cubic feet of cargo space
- 258 horsepower (192 kW)
- 126 MPGe
- 317 pound-feet of torque
- 220–310 miles (354–499 km) of range per full charge
Stay tuned for our first exclusive reviews of a production Model 3. Coming any moment …
It’s worth mentioning here that there a number of compelling all-electric models that will be released in the US before too long — these include offerings that are likely to attract a following, such as the Jaguar I-PACE. We’ll keep you updated…