Some people like to say that we here at CleanTechnica only write about Tesla, only care about Tesla, only want to hug Tesla, and only promote Tesla’s vehicles. That’s not true. We’ve actually published more than 1,000 articles regarding the Nissan LEAF, hundreds regarding the Chevy Bolt, hundreds regarding the Renault Zoe, hundreds regarding the BMW i3, and many more about other electric vehicles (EVs). Yes, nowadays, the Tesla Model 3 — as the first truly mass market electric car — dominates our EV coverage, just as it dominates EV sales in the markets where most of our readers reside. But we actually love and obsessively cover numerous EVs. Almost across the board, an electric car offers a clearly superior driving experience compared to similar gas or diesel cars. They’re also cleaner, not polluting the local air (and all the negative health effects and premature death that result) and not contributing to global scorching. Even if my 3 favorite electric vehicles are Teslas, my next favorite vehicles are several other electric vehicles (again, because of drive quality benefits as well as health and climate benefits).
It struck me today that one interesting thing we could do is publish an article quickly explaining the reasons why a person might buy a variety of different electric vehicles, 13 to be precise. For this article, I’m only considering fully electric cars. I realize that some people still have reasons to buy plug-in hybrids instead of fully electrics, but I think the market is quickly evolving beyond those, and I’m personally not a fan of plug-in hybrids since I think they water down key advantages of electric vehicles far too much (like powerful instant torque, the convenience of not having to visit gas stations, and the smooth and quiet drive quality of an electric powertrain).
I have only owned a few of these cars, and have not driven all of them, so if you have good experiences with some of them and think I am missing any big advantages, please chime in down in the comments with your own thoughts.
On to the fun! (Click on the subheadings to visit automaker websites.)
This is an excellent electric vehicle with somewhat long range from an established automaker. It has a mainstream design that is subtly and humbly on the sporty side of things. It includes good instant torque, but not neck-snapping acceleration that makes your passengers dizzy, delirious, and grumpy — and doesn’t result in a seat, floor mat, and dash covered in vomit. The LEAF can include a fairly high-end semi-autonomous driving suite (ProPilot) if you get the most expensive trim or buy the Technology Package. It is quite spacious inside, but is not a land yacht. Some trims of the LEAF now include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The regenerative braking system is about as good as it gets. Pricing starts just under $30,000, and Nissan buyers can still get $7,500 US federal tax credit (that is down to $1,875 for Tesla buyers). Perfect for you if you like the Nissan brand and Nissan styling.
Super zippy, light, fun car. Perfect for dense cities thanks to its small size and superb maneuverability. Helicopter-like cockpit for driver and front passenger, thanks to large windshield, short hood, and crossover-like height. Suicide doors — if you’re into them (some people are, some aren’t). Unique, flashy design that many people on the street praise and gawk at (rather routinely bashed online, though, especially by Tesla fans and traditional gearheads). High-quality hatch with BMW build quality and design (as long as you don’t mind the tiny cargo space the hatch opens up to reveal). Carbon fiber exterior. One-of-a-kind, open, sophisticated interior design, especially around the dash. Crossover-like seating in front and back, but squashed together enough that you have good access to the back seat from the front. Strong regenerative braking. One of the only completely original electric cars on the road.
BMW navigation system. Doors have a truly premium feel when opening and closing. Perfect for you if you like the BMW brand.
Much cheaper than a LEAF and every other electric car with moderate or long range. Stylish design. Similar look to the popular mainstream gas-powered Clio (if you don’t want to stand out). Small size ideal for European streets and sardine-box parking areas. If it gets a scratch, no need to cry. If it gets a dent, no need to take out a second mortgage to fix it. Fairly fast AC charging (rare). Hatchback. Perfect for you if you like the Renault brand and Renault styling.
Truly long-range electric car that’s not a Tesla. Has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Humongous dash with a lot of knobs and buttons (if you’re into that). Hatchback. Subcompact car yet has crossover-like look and decent space inside. Strong regenerative braking. HD Video option on rearview mirror and electronic blind spot warnings in side mirrors. Under $30,000 if you get good dealership offer, and buyers still eligible for $3,750 US federal tax credit (for a little while longer). Perfect for you if you like the Chevy brand and Chevy styling.
Kia Niro EV
Slick subcompact crossover that looks a bit bigger than it is. Ample interior space. Traditional design of the dash and center console (with a lot of buttons and knobs). Has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Hatchback. Long range. High-quality seating materials and design. Perfect for you if you like the Kia brand and Kia styling. (I think most people do.)
Hyundai Kona Electric
Slick subcompact crossover that looks a bit bigger than it is. Ample interior space. Traditional design of the dash and center console, with moderately sized infotainment screen. Has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Long range. Perfect for you if you like the Hyundai brand and Hyundai styling. (I think most people do.)
Quick, sporty crossover with good handling. Premium interior. Long range. Premium-class vehicle and brand. Relatively exclusive, rare electric vehicle. Looks similar to other popular Jaguar models, not too different/bold. Perfect for you if you like the Jaguar brand and Jaguar styling.
SUV with hatchback design. Premium-class interior. Quite sporty with solid handling for a crossover. Somewhat decent range (though, much less than a Tesla). Best Audi ever produced. Perfect for you if you like the Audi brand and Audi styling.
An “everyperson’s car” that doesn’t stand out but is still a clean, exciting, torquey, and smooth electric car. Has approximately the most common vehicle shell across Europe. Somewhat better/sportier handling than a Nissan LEAF. Below $30,000 with good dealership discounts, and still eligible for $7,500 US federal tax credit. You like telling people you don’t golf but have a Golf. Want to hide that you have an electric car. Perfect for you if you like the VW brand and VW styling.
Kia Soul EV
A funky look at a non-premium price. Good driving range (2020 version). Need or like the boxy rear hatchback storage area. Mainstream car that dips its toe into the waters of edgy, woke image. Smaller than it looks. Want people to think you’re a college kid even if you’re 40+. You have a special affinity to hamsters or are a long lost cousin of a hamster king. Perfect for you if you like the Kia brand and Kia styling.
Tesla Model 3
Arguably the best value for the money on the automobile market. Okay, not arguably — it’s a fact. Top safety scores in US history. Supersplendulous glass roof. Smaller size and better handling than its bigger brother and sister, yet still quite a large midsize sedan. Minimalist, elegant dash and interior — perfect for the woke Millennial and hip older people, while also the lust of whatever generation is after Millennials. (Seriously, kids know what’s up.) Smoother and more Porsche/Aston Martin–like nose than the Model S has (if you like that considerably more for some reason — I like them both). More of an “everyperson Tesla,” if you don’t want to look too fancy or just can’t afford it. Tesla infotainment, range, Supercharging, and status. Cost of ownership potentially similar to a Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Nissan Maxima, Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, or Nissan Altima despite much better performance, safety, and tech.
(Side note: Also the car to get if I’m your hero and you want to drive what I now drive. … crickets …)
Tesla Model S
The original fully original Tesla. The quickest production car in the world. A land yacht that will make you king of the road. Huge storage area with a hatchback opening, plus large frunk (for puppy photos and such). Traditional dash if you don’t like the minimalist dash of the Model 3. Squintier eyes (headlights) than the Model 3 (somewhat menacing, in a cool way). Self-presenting door handles that make you feel and look cooler than cool. Enough space in the back seat for two car seats and a real, live, non-minion human in the middle. Tesla infotainment, range, Supercharging, and status.
Tesla Model X
Coolest, best vehicle on the planet for passengers. Super comfortable. Amazing, supersplendulous windshield. Acceleration of a sports car. Tesla infotainment, range, Supercharging, and status. Falcon-wing doors will let you actually fly (… just kidding — need rocket thrusters for that).
All photos by CleanTechnica except VW e-Golf and Audi e-tron photos, courtesy of automakers.
If you’d like to buy a Tesla and get 1,000 miles (1,500 km) of free Supercharging, feel free to use my referral code: https://ts.la/zachary63404.
I don't like paywalls. You don't like paywalls. Who likes paywalls? Here at CleanTechnica, we implemented a limited paywall for a while, but it always felt wrong — and it was always tough to decide what we should put behind there. In theory, your most exclusive and best content goes behind a paywall. But then fewer people read it! We just don't like paywalls, and so we've decided to ditch ours. Unfortunately, the media business is still a tough, cut-throat business with tiny margins. It's a never-ending Olympic challenge to stay above water or even perhaps — gasp — grow. So ...
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