Plug-in power is here to stay. Next year will bring a tidal wave of new EVs — here are the most exciting of the bunch.
Gas may be cheap and the future may be uncertain, but automakers around the world have followed Tesla’s lead and pushed forward in a rush to produce electric vehicles in a big way. While we’ve seen EVs arrive from manufacturers like GM and Nissan in fits and starts over the years, 2021 will see scores of new entrants from the big brands. Small upstarts, too, will join the fray, like domestic manufacturer Rivian, plus at least one surprising name from the past: Hummer. If the former symbol of gas-guzzling excess can go electric, a revolution is definitely around the corner.
2021 Mustang Mach-E
With the Mach-E, Ford turns the Mustang, its muscle-car nameplate, electric. The crossover has four doors — a Mustang first — along with room for gear and groceries. That’s not to say the latest ‘stang is docile: Opt for the Performance Edition and the Mach-E will hit 60 miles per hour faster than a Porsche 911 GTS. It’s good on a long haul, too: An extended-range battery and rear-wheel-drive model will travel at least 300 miles on a single charge — similar to Tesla’s upcoming Model Y compact crossover. Looks-wise, the Mach-E has the raised profile of an SUV, but it still sports some signature Mustang design cues: a long hood, three-part tail lamps, high haunches, and that familiar pony badge up front. From $43,895.
GMC Hummer EV SUT
In one of the most unlikely turnarounds in automotive history, Hummer — the brand known for militaristic, gas-guzzling SUVs, gone since 2010 — is back. In its next incarnation, Hummer, now a nameplate under GMC, will go all electric, with a powerful pair of green vehicles: one SUV, one pickup truck, either offered with up to three motors, up to 1,000 horsepower, and a range of up to 400 miles. Removable roof panels, quick charging, and off-road capabilities should make for a compelling package. And for those still on the fence, maybe pitchman LeBron James will help to seal the deal. The new Hummers will be announced later this fall, and should hit production next year.
In these strange times, perhaps no other vehicle fits the moment like Tesla’s retro-futuristic space machine. Clad in dent-proof stainless steel (it’ll be rough out there in the future) and flaunting an array of extreme angles, it’s like something out of Mad Max. At the vehicle’s introduction last November, CEO Elon Musk said his goal was to build a “really tough, not fake-tough” truck; to prove it, he proceeded to batter a prototype with a series of torture tests (including a hurled steel ball that famously shattered its “armor glass” window). Musk and Co. claim that the plug-in pickup, which will be built in Tesla’s factory-in-development in Austin starting in 2021, will be powered by up to three electric motors and should hit 500 miles of range (with the three-motor model). Get ready to go beyond the Thunderdome. From $39,900 for the one-motor model; $69,900 for the three-motor.
Arriving this fall, this five-seater will bring Volvo polish and Swedish style to battle with Tesla’s Model 3. It’s the second ride from Volvo’s new performance arm (the other, the 1, is a hybrid gas-electric), and aside from the green powertrain features a raft of forward-thinking design elements. Think: frameless mirrors and a lighter-than-leather vegan interior fabric designed to mimic the durability of a wetsuit. A pair of electric motors work with a 27-module lithium ion battery pack to deliver an impressive 402 horsepower, and a range of up to 275 miles. From $59,900.
2022 Nissan Ariya
A decade ago, Nissan launched the Leaf EV, a modest, geeky hit whose sales have reached nearly half a million. In late 2021, it follows that up with the Ariya, a more stylish take on emission-free transportation. The five-passenger crossover features a surprisingly aggressive look, with some swoopy, concave surfacing and wheels pushed to the corners; inside, you’ll find an extremely minimal cabin with a low, flat floor and a vibe that Nissan calls “lounge-like.” The automaker claims the Ariya will be able to hit up to 300 miles on a single charge, putting it in striking distance of Tesla’s Model Y. Pricing should start around $40,000.
2021 Mercedes-Benz EQC
‘Benz enters the all-electric field with this five-seat crossover, and the result is predictably luxe. Nothing about the 402-horsepower machine screams “electric car” — no design flourishes like gull-wing doors or glowing green lighting. It’s just pure Mercedes, gone electric. Under that classically handsome exterior will be all the performance you’d expect, too: Two motors will send the EQC to 60 miles per hour in less than five seconds, and it should have a range of more than 200 miles on a single charge. Price is TBD, but we’re guessing it won’t be cheap.
VW is betting big on electric vehicles, including a battery-powered microbus, the, that signals back to the “flower power” Sixties. But first, we’ll get the ID.4, a curvy, compact, five-seat crossover that should arrive late this calendar year with an expected range of about 250 miles on a single charge. The first in the U.S. (available for preorder now and starting at around $40,000) will come from Germany; by 2022, they’ll be produced for the domestic market right here at home, in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
2021 Audi e-tron GT
If the production e-tron GT doesn’t stray too far from the concept shown here, Audi should have a hit on its hands next year: a sleek, electric sedan with loads of power and polish. Behind the streamlined bodywork is some architecture shared with the Porsche Taycan EV. With 590 horsepower, the two-motor GT should hustle from zero to 60 miles per hour in three seconds, and, like the Taycan, will be able to gain an 80 percent charge in just 20 minutes. Yes, you may have to fork over around $100,000 for it, but for those who can afford it, looks like Audi will make it worth your while.
Volvo XC40 Recharge
The Swedes are going greener with a pure electric plug-in version of their polished XC40 crossover. Like the conventional gas-powered XC40, the Recharge features a smart, stylish interior with plenty of storage despite the vehicle’s compact footprint. Volvo claims that its 78 kWh battery should allow for over 200 miles of range on a single charge, and its 408 horsepower will provide plenty of oomph. Will that Volvo badge enable it to steal away buyers of the Tesla Model Y? We’ll see when the XC40 arrives later this year or early in 2021. Pre-orders are open now, starting at around $50,000.
Upstart American EV-maker Rivian captured plenty of attention with its R1T pickup truck, which made its debut before Tesla’s edgier Cybertruck took a bow. Perhaps even more interesting is its SUV sibling, the R1S, due to arrive next summer. Get ready for classic, boxy sport-ute styling and ample room, with three rows of seating. Much of the R1S’ underpinnings are shared with the R1T — including four motors (one at each wheel) and three battery pack options, the largest good for a range of over 300 miles on a charge. From $72,500.
Hyundai IONIQ Electric
The Korean automaker is making moves in the EV segment, led by the quiet success of its all-electric IONIQ Electric sedan. The plug-in version of the IONIQ hatchback (there are also gas and hybrid models), which is available now, offers a range of up to 170 miles on a single charge, and has all the features you’d expect given its price in the low-$30,000 range — fast-charging capabilities and lane assist among them. Hyundai recently announced that IONIQ will become its own sub-brand, with at least three more EVs planned, including a midsize crossover, a sedan, and a large SUV, starting in 2021.
Not to be left out of the party, starting next year BMW is set to produce a powerful, compact electric SUV that will be a pure plug-in with tons of autonomous features. So far, the only available details come from the concept form, but BMW claims the iNext will allow a driver to choose between “boost” or “ease” modes — meaning you’ll be able to drive yourself, or be driven. Fittingly, the interior looks to be an airy, living-room-like space suitable for kicking back and reading a book while the car takes care of the rest.