A Lengthy List of Electric Vehicles Currently Available in the United States (2017)
October 13, 2017
October 13, 2017
Americans today are experiencing a veritable surge of options when it comes to electric vehicles. If you’re in the market for a new car and would like to steer clear of the fossil-fuel-burning variety, we have good news: the market is on your side. No longer disregarded as uncompetitive or impractical, electric cars are both better than ever, and more available than ever. Ranges of these vehicles are reaching longer distances every year, meaning you can drive further on a single charge. Given all the advancements, it’s an exciting time to be in the market.
There are two main variants of an electric car to consider when choosing your new ride. The first works in a way you’re probably already familiar with: A large battery provides power to electric motors, which then move the vehicle forward. This type typically sees a long electric-only range figure, because it operates solely in this mode. The second type, however, includes a traditional gas engine that kicks in once the (much shorter) electric range is depleted. These two types of electric cars are referred to respectively as BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) and PHEV (Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle). We’ll include both on our list.
With so many choices among most of the brands you already know, from Audi to Volvo, it’s easy to get confused when shopping around. To cut through some of that confusion, let’s take a look at them now, model by model.
Electric Vehicle Options by Brand
|Model||A3 Sportback e-tron|
|Electric Range||16 miles|
|Charge Time (Level 2)||2.5 hours|
Audi only offers one electric vehicle in the US, the A3 Sportback e-tron. This smallish 4-door hatch offers most of the luxury the German brand is known for, as well as an engaging driving experience. Its relatively short driving range is just enough for those with a brief commute to get to work and back on a single charge. Anything past that, and you’ll be relying on the gas engine for help. This electric variant of the popular A3 hatch carries 5-star safety ratings all around.
|Model||330e||740Le xDrive||X5 xDrive40e||i3||i8|
|Electric Range||14 miles||14 miles||17 miles||113 miles||15 miles|
|Charge Time (Level 2)||2 hours||3 hours||2.5 hours||4.5 hours||2 hours|
The popular German brand offers an impressive total of five partial- or all-electric models to Americans. Three PHEVs are based on conventional BMW cars: the 330e, the 740 Le xDrive, and the X5 xDrive40e. The first two are a small and a large sedan, while the third is based on BMW’s larger X5 SUV. All three offer charging times falling within 2-3 hours.
Cars four and five comprise BMW’s more dedicated, i-series line. The i3 is a rather frumpy but supremely versatile hatch. The i8 is a low and wide sports car whose performance verges (in many ways) in supercar territory. All cars achieve stellar safety ratings.
|Electric Range||53 miles||238 miles|
|Charge Time (Level 2)||4.5 hours||9.5 hours|
Chevy offers Americans two electric cars, the Volt and the Bolt. You may know the Volt, which represents the brand’s wildly successful foray into a once-untested plug-in hybrid market. Newly available, the second generation of the car is improved in every way.
The Bolt is a smaller-but-taller hatchback. It’s also a BEV so there’s no gasoline motor aiding it. The Bolt travels a very impressive 238 miles after a full charge. You read that right. It’s a figure that gives even the most famous of electric car companies—Tesla—a run for its money. Expect a much longer charging time of 9.5 hours, which you probably won’t mind, considering the Bolt’s road-trip-worthy range. The Volt achieves 4- and 5-star safety ratings all around. The Bolt is expected to perform similarly in NHTSA tests.
|Electric Range||32 miles|
|Charge Time (Level 2)||2 hours|
This American car company has always been famous for their minivans, so it’s fitting that the company offers the only electric minivan available to Americans: the Pacifica PHEV. Luckily, it’s a great van that offers a useable 32-mile range. The Pacifica PHEV earns top safety ratings and comes in at $43,090. Considering its large size and versatile nature, that’s not a bad deal.
|Model||C-Max Energi||Focus Electric||Fusion Energi|
|Electric Range||20 miles||115 miles||21 miles|
|Charge Time (Level 2)||2.5 hours||5.5 hours||2.5 hours|
The Blue Oval shows up with three electric offerings in the US, the C-Max Energi, The Focus Electric, and the Fusion Energi. These cars are all solid offerings, but none really manages to stand out in the market. The Focus Electric’s range is impressive for the price. All three cars offer 4-5 star safety ratings.
|Model||Hyundai Sonata PHEV||Hyundai IONIQ Electric||Kia Optima PHEV||Kia Soul EV|
|Electric Range||26 miles||105 miles||29 miles||92 miles|
|Charge Time (Level 2)||3 hours||4.5 hours||3 hours||4.5 hours|
These two auto manufacturers bring a total of four electric vehicles to the American market. Hyundai offers both a PHEV version of its midsize Sonata sedan and a dedicated all-electric model, the IONIQ Electric.
Kia’s Optima PHEV is a more midsize that competes directly with the Sonata PHEV, and offers an even longer range, at 29 miles. Also on offer is the Soul EV, another awkwardly-styled, yet versatile car. All cars achieve safety ratings of Acceptable or above.
|Model||GLE 550e||S 550e|
|Electric Range||18 miles||14 miles|
|Charge Time (Level 2)||3 hours||2.5 hours|
The third German luxury brand on this list offers American buyers something special in both its GLE 550e SUV and S 550e large sedan. Much like the BMWs, these PHEVs are full of the tech and rich interior appointments expected from a luxury marque. Cost starts at $66,300 for the GLE 550e, and $97,595 for the wider, longer and more luxurious S 550e sedan. Expect immaculate safety scores for both models.
|Model||Mitsubishi i-MiEV*||Nissan LEAF|
|Electric Range||62 miles||106 miles|
|Charge Time (Level 2)||5 hours||4.5 hours|
*i-MiEV has been discontinued.
These two Japanese brands will be combined for comparison’s sake. Mitsubishi had an early entry into the BEV arena with its i-MiEV. Unfortunately, it’s pretty underwhelming. The car hasn’t come to know much popularity, since its diminutive size, lukewarm safety ratings, and poor driving characteristics have landed it at the bottom of the EV comparisons pool for quite some time. It is the cheapest vehicle on this list, however, and after charging for 5 hours musters a respectable 62-mile range.
Compare that to Nissan’s venerable LEAF, a much larger, more livable car that will travel 106 miles after just 4.5 hours of charging. This better-liked hatch is about to enter its second generation and promises to offer even more range, comfort, and refinement. The new LEAF is expected to achieve perfect 5-star safety ratings all around and should start at or near the current model’s base price of $28,550.
|Model||Cayenne S E-Hybrid||Panamera S E-Hybrid|
|Electric Range||14 miles||16 miles|
|Charge Time (Level 2)||1.5 hours||3 hours|
The performance-minded German luxury brand is also known for its beautiful designs. Porsche offers both its large SUV and large sedan in PHEV variants, known as the Cayenne S E-Hybrid and Panamera S E-Hybrid. As these cars prioritize driving performance above all else, don’t expect to be blown away by their electric range. But you can expect excellent safety scores from this premium brand.
|Model||Model S||Model X|
|Electric Range||270 miles||256 miles|
|Charge Time (Level 2)||9 hours||11 hours|
Finally, we’ve arrived at the brand most readers will surely recognize: Tesla—the big T. The brand’s two (soon to be three) models are the superstars of the EV world, and in many ways, for good reason. Their performance is tough to beat, and for those of you who don’t want to mess with gasoline engines period, there are no PHEVs in sight. Tesla is a BEV-only company. Range is certainly the company’s strong suit, topping out at 256 miles for its versatile Model X SUV, and an incredible 270 miles for the now-classic Model S large sedan. Charging times are long but worth the effort. Safety scores are excellent.
As a bonus, keep your eyes peeled for the comparatively-affordable Model 3, which is just now arriving on the driveways of some lucky early owners. Dubbed Tesla’s “people’s car,” this small sedan will offer much of the luxury and performance of its bigger siblings, at a much lower price—under $35,000 for a base model. This small, functional Tesla is likely to make some big waves in the EV market.
|Electric Range||124 miles|
|Charge Time (Level 2)||4 hours|
This value-oriented German brand offers one all-electric model to American consumers: the Volkswagen e-Golf. It shows up with an impressive 124-mile range and takes only 4 hours to charge. Cars like the e-Golf are a great alternative to the likes of Nissan’s Leaf. While the Leaf screams “electric car,” the e-Golf, and other EVs based on regular cars tend to slide under the radar. The choice is yours, and at just under $30,000, blending in is an affordable option. Both the e-Golf and the plain-old Golf on which it is based achieve 5-star safety ratings.
|Model||XC90 T8 Twin Engine PHEV|
|Electric Range||14 miles|
|Charge Time (Level 2)||2.5 hours|
Last on our list is Volvo’s sole American EV offering, and it’s a mouthful: the XC90 T8 Twin Engine PHEV. It’s based on Volvo’s excellent, recently redesigned XC90 SUV. While no vehicle on this list (except perhaps Mitsubishi’s lowly i-MiEV) could be considered unsafe, Volvo brings its rich history of safety research and development into the mix, presenting what is arguably the safest car on this list. And it’s pretty nice looking, too.
With each new model year, American consumers are left with fewer and fewer reasons to avoid considering a partial- or all-electric option for their next car. It’s clear that there are already many choices available, even with our list narrowed down to only BEV and PHEV vehicles. Whether you’re looking at buying tomorrow, or a few years down the line, the pool of potential models is larger than ever and growing all the time. One thing is for sure: Your first (or next) electric vehicle will be ages ahead of what was available just a few short years ago—no matter which model you choose.