Every year since the mid-2010s has been big for EVs. New models, longer ranges, and lower prices have continuously increased the momentum for electric vehicles, and 2021 will follow suit. In the US, few smaller-sized hatchback and sedan models are expected next year. However, many trucks and crossovers will be released in 2021 and we will start to see the broader EV market take on a more defined shape. While I think it may be premature to call 2021 the “Year of Electric Trucks,” due to the limited production, there will finally be electric pickups available, which is huge. Below are descriptions of some of the most exciting electric vehicles coming in 2021 that you should be aware about.
For a more in-depth look at many of these vehicles, check out an upcoming Forth/CleanTechnica webinar on December 16 where CleanTechnica editor Zachary Shahan will be a panelist.
Trucks coming to market next year
Rivian, Tesla, and Lordstown will be bringing trucks to market in 2021. Rivian should get its R1T out first in June 2021. This much-anticipated vehicle will start at $67,500. While Lordstown’s Endurance should be out by September of 2021, the Endurance will initially be just for fleets. It will come in at a price of $52,500 (see below for more detail). The first-edition, $112,595 GMC Hummer EV (yet to have a demo unit) is estimated to be available in the fall of 2021. The first edition Hummer is much more expensive, but if it lives up to its specs and the hype of GM’s videos, customers are likely to be happy. Tesla’s Cybertruck is scheduled to be available in the Tri-motor and Dual-motor options by the end of 2021, and will be coming from Tesla’s Austin, TX, plant (currently under construction with the goal of completion in May 2021). It will be the lowest priced of the three, starting at $49,990 (Dual motor). But Rivian and Lordstown will have access to the $7,500 federal tax credit, while Tesla and GM won’t.
Rivian R1T (Launch Edition)
While Rivian’s R1T will come out first, production is expected to be around 20,000 units in 2021 and 40,000 units in 2022. This is not unusual for a luxury vehicle entering the market and follows a similar growth trajectory as Tesla’s Model S and X in their early days. What is unexpected is that these production numbers have been publicly released. Shout out to RJ Scaringe, Founder and CEO of Rivian, for being transparent and providing us with this juicy information.
Lordstown’s Endurance is going to show fleet managers that going electric is profitable and employees will love them. I’m personally excited to see hub motors take a prime position in this vehicle and offer a slightly different propulsion system than what has ever been seen before. With the lower price, I can imagine this vehicle would be quite the hot commodity for the average EV-loving, truck-shopping consumer out there. However, Lordstown is letting fleets have first dibs and no one knows when average consumers will have access to these vehicles.
GMC Hummer EV (Edition 1)
GMC’s Hummer EV may make waves, but with no demo units out, all eyes are on GM to pull through on its incredibly optimistic timeline. For more information on the possible trim levels, check out GMC’s reservation site here. I’m not sure how well the Hummer EV will do with a price point so far above the other trucks featured in this article and with the base model not estimated to be released for years after the Edition 1 release. It will be interesting to see how the Hummer EV competes with the R1T and the Cybertruck despite the price difference.
Tesla Cybertruck (Tri-Motor/Dual-Motor)
Lastly, Tesla’s Cybertruck will likely make a splash at the very end of 2021. Although, production may come sooner than expected due to rapid construction at the Austin, Texas, factory. Tesla will have to move quickly but has shown this capability in the past. The Tri-motor, $69,990 Cybertruck will come along first, with the Dual-motor, $49,990 version coming in late 2021, and the Single-motor $39,990 version not expected till late 2022. I expect the Cybertruck to ramp up production relatively quickly, and likely avoid some of the “production hell” that assailed the Model 3. However, no one knows yet how the factory will prioritize Model Y, Model 3, Tesla Semi, and Cybertruck production rates between the end of 2021 and 2022, so things will be rather unpredictable until Tesla clarifies its production timelines at the Austin factory. Also, note that the Texas gigafactory will be massive, at 3.7 million sq feet planned so far.
The “Not a Truck” Electric Vehicles coming to market
Let’s start out with the one that is already out:
Ford Mustang Mach-E
Ford’s Mustang Mach-E (already out but undergoing a significant production ramp-up in 2021) puts Ford in the race for EV dominance, and if you’re not happy about that, you’re probably mad about the Mustang name being used. With a solid range that starts at 210 miles (AWD + standard battery pack), a standard and long-range battery pack option, and RWD and AWD options, this car has the customization the US EV market has long desired.
When compared to the Model Y and Model 3, the Mach-E does not provide enough range for the price (base model starts at $42,895) without the federal tax credit, and I predict that as Ford gets more comfortable with battery technology, as battery tech gets cheaper, and as competition tightens, Ford will increase the range and lower the price, possibly quite significantly if Ford loses the federal tax credit in the next year or so. Without the federal tax credit, the Mach-E’s market niche gets eaten into by many other vehicles, specifically the Hyundai 5, Tesla Model Y and Model 3, Volkswagen ID.4, and Nissan Ariya, to name a few.
I would predict significant price cuts from Ford when the federal tax credit is no longer applicable. Of course, if significant EV policy changes occur with the incoming Biden administration and Tesla is able to obtain a tax credit or other federal incentive for the Model 3 and Y, all bets are off and I could see the Mach-E losing out pretty seriously to cheaper, longer-range CUVs. Ford has its work cut out for it to become a dominant player in the EV world at this late stage, but I look forward to seeing how it will handle this challenge. For one of the USA’s oldest auto manufacturers, the next few years will determine its future, and it all starts with the Mach-E.
I talked a bit about vehicles that could eat into the Mach-E’s market space. Some of them are coming in 2021.
Volkswagen’s big course correction started after the dieselgate scandal a couple years back, and while Europe has seen the ID.3 for the past few months of 2020, the US has been waiting and waiting for its first ID model. The wait is only a little longer! In 2021, the Volkswagen ID.4 will be available. The 1st edition has already sold out and will be delivered in Q1 of 2021. The ID.4 Pro is open for reservations with delivery is expected in “mid 2021,” starting at $39,995 before the federal tax credit.
The ID.4 has the potential to put pressure on the Tesla Model 3 and Y markets, with 250 miles of range and an AWD option ($3,680), and with competitive pricing. With the federal tax credit knocking the price down, anyone looking for a decent range (~250 miles), relatively low cost (~$35,000) CUV can now get one. I see this model undercutting the Ford Mustang Mach-E’s price for similar benefit, while both vehicles could almost be considered a new market segment when compared to Tesla’s Model Y’s longer range and higher price.
The Nissan Ariya will not be arriving in the US until late 2021. However, it should hit the Japanese market slightly before that. The Nissan Ariya will have two battery options (63 and 87 kWh) and FWD or AWD. A front-wheel-drive, large-battery-pack version should get around 300 miles of range, which means the small battery pack FWD version should get sub-220-mile range, with the AWD versions slightly lower than the FWD versions. The recommended MSRP for the base model will be around $40,000, which indicates the long-range, AWD vehicle will be somewhere approaching $50,000, very similar to Tesla’s Model Y, which will be a direct competitor that has around 25% more range.
With Nissan closing in on the federal tax credit’s 200,000 vehicles sold sunset mark, I could see Nissan having a hard time competing with the Tesla Model Y in the Ariya’s highest “spec’d” versions by 2022. The ID.4 Pro is also around that $40,000 mark, with likely a bit higher range, and could impact Nissan’s Ariya sales in a big way.
Side Note: Another piece of information about the Nissan Ariya is that it will use the North American Combined Charging Standard (CCS1) DC charging plug type, which may not mean much to most people yet, but is important because it will create a standard for fast charging in the US and North America as a whole (though, Tesla will still be doing its own thing). While the arrival of the Ariya will not immediately remove all of the older Nissan Chademo chargers (another DC charging plug) out there, nor change all of the vehicles with Chademo plug receptacles into CCS receptacles, it will enable some amount of consolidation of fast charger plugs. In the long run, the Ariya’s arrival may signal a sharp drop in Nissan Leaf values as DC charger manufacturers/installers decide to install fewer and fewer Chademo chargers and more and more locations simply decide a Chademo charger at their location is unnecessary. Let me know in the comments if you disagree with my analysis here.
Lastly, we have a bit of an oddball here in the field of CUVs: a luxurious full-sized SUV.
While production starts later than Rivian’s R1T truck, the R1S Launch Edition is the first full-size all-electric SUV to hit the market, and wow, it is magnificent. With reservations full for the Launch Edition, the earliest new shoppers can receive the R1S is January 2022. The specs impress with a base range of 300+ miles, AWD standard, 0–60 mph around 3 seconds, towing up to 7,700 lb, wading depth of 3 feet, and more variants coming in the future. The catch is that it starts at roughly $70,000, and with no competition to be seen, there’s no reason that price will drop anytime soon. Luckily, the federal tax credit will drop that price quite a lot.
It seems quite likely that Rivian will have this market sector to itself for quite some time.
Note the serious threat to the Tesla Model S as soon as the Air and Air touring come out. Until that time, Lucid is making cars we mere mortals can only dream about (pun intended). Many who may have been interested in the Model S, will likely flock to Lucid’s sexy Air. With incredible range, this car will take the long distance crown from Tesla — however, just for a short time, as the Model S Ludicrous Plaid offers a few more miles of range.
I love charts & tables. Here are four that might matter to you if you are searching for a fully electric truck or CUV in the next year or so:
While the Hyundai 5 is slated to arrive in 2021, and we know approximately what it will look like based on one of Hyundai’s concept vehicles, no precise specifications have been announced. See this Hyundai press release for more details about Hyundai’s IONIQ brand and its “E-GMP” EV Platform. I will certainly be tracking any announcements from Hyundai in the next few months. The IONIQ brand will likely have the production scale necessary and the economies of scale needed to compete very well in the US.
I’ll be tracking this one as well as production nears in mid-2021. Chevy has already proven it can produce a solid vehicle without a hefty price tag with the Bolt EV. With increasing competition in this sector, I am quite excited to see what Chevy can produce here.
This is one to watch. BMW has taken a significant hit from Tesla over the past few years as many former BMW owners have shifted to Teslas. BMW has had a long time to learn from its i3 and i8. Can the company put these lessons learned into the i4, iX, and more? While I have been critical of BMW in the past for the price premiums charged on the i3, the i4 is a new vehicle capable of taking BMW into the future in a way that the i3 was far too futuristic to do. I am very excited to drive this vehicle when it comes out and see if it can compare to Tesla’s Model 3.
Mercedes-Benz EQC (new to US market)
(some would say “finally”)
The delays of this vehicle in the US have put it in an odd category. Priced at $67,900, it is not a cheap car, and with only around 200 miles, it is going to fare poorly against the Model Y, let alone other longer-range and much cheaper CUVs. I put it in a similar class to Audi’s e-tron and e-tron Sportback: too expensive for mass market adoption with a range not good enough for anyone who cares about long-ranged EVs. Mercedes-Benz has always had a luxury audience, but now that there are more players in the electric luxury space, will Mercedes-Benz be able to hold on to its usual customers?
218 miles, base price of $69,100. I have always been a fan of how Audi vehicles look and feel (and drive when I’ve had the chance). The e-tron Sportback is no exception to Audi vehicles’ good looks. However, this car was not given a place next to Rivian’s R1S and the CUVs in the above section because its price and range cannot compare to the others. It starts at $20,000–30,000 dollars above the Mach-E, Ariya, and ID.4, as well as the Model Y (not shown above), while having the same or even less range than those vehicles’ base models. Needless to say, the e-tron Sportback will need an x-factor or an extremely devoted Audi base that trends seem to indicate it just doesn’t have.
Nonetheless, I will be looking for this vehicle on the road. Neither great range nor competitive pricing seems to be on Audi’s priority list, but man does this vehicle look good. That said, I’m pretty sure nothing will get me to look past that $/mile of range. Not when you can get a Model S or a fully decked out Model 3 for that price, let alone a used 2019 Model S/X/Y that still costs less. The cost comparison is quite rough here, which is why I don’t compare it to the R1S or the other CUVs. Love me a good Audi, but I’m not sure how the e-tron Sportback fits into the market in a big way.
Audi Q4 e-tron: minimal information so far, but I expect that to change soon.
PHEVs worthy of mention:
This information is known as of December 7th, 2020. While the information has been well researched, there may be mistakes. Please forgive us and let us know if you find any factual inaccuracies.
Whitaker Jamieson lives in Portland, Oregon, and works for the nonprofit Forth, which promotes electric transportation of all kinds and sizes. Whit lives in the “weeds” of all things electrification, EVs, and charging infrastructure. Whit loves EVs. Feel free to connect with and contact him via LinkedIn.