It wasn't long ago I was driving around in my MINI-E and was virtually the only electric vehicle on the roadway. Sure there were a few hundred Toyota RAV 4 EVs, about a thousand or so Tesla Roadsters and some home built converted electric cars, but there weren't any major OEM dealerships where you could walk in and drive away with an electric car.
|Tesla Model S|
|2014 Cadillac ELR PHEV|
|Infinity LE Concept|
It's hard for me to believe that all of theses electric vehicles either are or will be available within two years. We have come a long way from my early MINI-E days when there were no "affordable" pure electric cars even on the horizon. Even with all of these choices, there isn't much of an overlap and all of theses cars are different enough not to cannibalize too much sales from one another. The Infinity LE offers close to what the Tesla Model S will except for range, and until we really know what the Infinity's range will be there is no use really comparing them. The ELR is a plug in hybrid and the closest thing to it coming out will be the BMW i3 with the REx range extender option. However the i3 is a hatchback while the ELR is a sports coupe which is really more like the ActiveE but that won't go into series production (to the chagrin of many ActiveE drivers!). Tesla really has an opportunity to grab the majority of the luxury electric vehicle market. They are first to market with Model S delivery beginning in two months and they are offering more all electric range than anyone, by a long shot. The big question remaining is can they really pull it off? Do they have the funding to stay in it for the long haul and will the cars be reliable? If Tesla starts delivering cars and half of them end up back in at the dealerships for major battery issues or software problems, they will take a huge customer confidence hit and that could be enough to kill them, especially since there will be premium EV options following the Model S very soon. Still, the range Tesla is offering is going to make many people who wouldn't consider a 70 to 90 mile per charge EV think about it.
|BMW Concept i3 has no B-pillar and 'coach-style' doors.|
|A camouflaged i3 in recent testing|
The concept i3s looks have been a subject of concern for some following BMW's EV plans though, and I have read comments where people express their objections to the futuristic styling. It should be noted that they are commenting on the concept i3 though, and concepts are usually futuristic looking. I'm sure the production i3 will be toned down a bit and look more "BMW like." Some also wish it was a bigger car with a trunk. Personally I'm happy with the current i3 configuration. It's just what I want for my daily driving car. The utility of a hatchback is a big plus for me and the size is just right for commuting and city driving and parking. This doesn't mean BMW is abandoning the full size sedan market though. They currently have a number of BEVs and PHEVs in development and the i5 in particular has been rumored to be either a five passenger sedan or a small crossover and should satisfy the needs of those looking for a premium family-sized plug in vehicle. The first car out of the new i brand can't be everything for everybody, and will suit the needs of some but not others. However in just a matter of a couple of years BMW will have at least four plug in cars in showrooms (i3, i4, i5 & i8) and it won't end there. Richard Steinberg, manager of electric vehicle operations and strategy for BMW NA recently said, "I have a feeling you'll see plugs cascade through our entire product line." Yes, it is getting interesting!
Note: I intentionally left out the Fisker Karma and the Coda Sedan. The Karma is over $100,000 and costs more than any of the cars mentioned here, even the most expensive Model S. Personally I don't consider Fisker competition to these cars and I doubt they will even be in business in a few years. Coda's sedan does have decent range with an 88mpc EPA rating, however it's anything but premium or luxury and is basically a carbon copy of an economy car made ten years ago. It's built in China and based on articles I have read by people who have driven them, the quality is far inferior than anything expected from the automakers mentioned above.