Previewing the Next Generation of Electric Vehicles

 In EV Industry

Fleet owners interested in electric vehicles have had to compromise with first-generation products. Putting the most affordable EVs in service means dealing with ranges that do not top 100 miles in most cases.

Tesla Motors has the solution to this problem. It looks like this:

Tesla Model S

Unfortunately, at a starting price of $70,000, the costs have proven too high for most fleets, even when purchase incentives and fast-charging options are considered. Besides, a Model S is simply too powerful and luxurious to be practical.

The next generation of electric vehicles will change this dynamic, starting in 2016. There are several reasons why EVs are becoming affordable:

  • Battery costs. The cost of battery packs is dropping fast, allowing manufacturers to offer much more range for the money.
  • Production scale. Economies of scale have kept plug-in costs high in the first generation of vehicles. As record sales are recorded around the world, the costs are coming down.
  • Competition. Tesla competed mostly against Mercedes-Benz and BMW; Nissan competed mostly with plug-in hybrids at lower price points. Now that GM and Tesla have set a new standard – 200 miles at $37,500 or less – the industry is following suit.

Between now and 2020, most major automakers will present electric vehicles that break the 200-mile barrier while purchase incentives remain available, creating a mass-market plug-in segment for the first time. Here is a preview of the models making up the next generation of EVs.

P.S. We recently held a webinar on maximizing the ROI of fleet electrification. It covered how to integrate EVs into your fleet with confidence, how to maximize an EV’s workload, and how to optimize charging. You can download the slides or watch the recording here.

Chevrolet Bolt EV

Chevrolet Bolt EV

Aside from the low-volume Chevy Spark EV, GM had no pure electric vehicle in its product line when it announced the Chevy Bolt EV, starting at $37,500, would reach dealerships in 2016. A partnership with LG got Chevy the battery technology necessary to cross the range benchmark, and the preliminary specs are appealing:

  • At least 200 miles of range.
  • Hatchback styling with 56.6 cubic feet of cargo space
  • 200 horsepower, 266 lbs-ft torque
  • Capable of hitting 60 miles per hour (100 km/h) in less than seven seconds

This car starts the clock on the next generation of plug-ins, and GM can take credit for getting there first, even before Tesla. Bolt EV will come standard with front-wheel drive.

Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3

Few auto industry events have ever gotten as much attention as the unveiling of the Tesla Model 3, which ended up with 400,000 reservations within a few weeks. While the look of the Chevy Bolt did not wow the general public, Tesla’s third major vehicle offered the brand’s signature styling along with the performance specs consumers expect from the leading EV maker. In fact, it caused a worldwide sensation.

Highlights include:

  • 215 miles of range
  • $35,000 base price
  • Access to Tesla Superchargers (pricing details unknown)
  • Rear-wheel drive, with all-wheel drive optional
  • Hatchback styling
  • Capable of going 0 to 60 mph (100 km/h) in six seconds or less

After planning a production start for late 2017, Tesla CEO Elon Musk moved up the date and said it would come the summer before, with plans to deliver tens of thousands of vehicles by the start of 2018.

Nissan Leaf

Nissan Leat Concept

Concept image. The next generation Leaf is expected to be introduced sometime in late 2016.

In terms of cumulative world sales, the Nissan Leaf is best-selling pure electric car in history, and the automaker intends to compete with the major industry players in the second generation of EVs. Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn has spoken at length about his company’s ability and intention to produce an electric model breaking 200 miles of range in the coming years.

While many industry observers believed Nissan could parlay its technology and production capabilities to beat Tesla and GM to market, it appears that will not happen. Nonetheless, expect Nissan Renault to bring its longer-range model to market by 2018, if not sooner. Leaf’s combination of solid range and affordable cost were its secret to past sales success.

Volkswagen e-Golf

Volkswagen e-Golf

The Volkswagen Group, through its core brand and luxury Audi marque, has taken an aggressive approach to plug-in vehicles since the Dieselgate scandal did so much damage. According to the automaker, the next-generation Golf family will include an all-electric model that more than doubles the range of the current e-Golf on the market.

At 300 km (186 miles) of real-world range, which includes climate control and stereo use, the next e-Golf will cover 200 miles in city driving and keep its competitive price point. If everything goes as Volkswagen intends, this model will reach world markets late in 2018.

Ford Model E

Ford Motor Company has shown a commitment to plug-in vehicles with its Fusion Energi and C-Max Energi plug-in hybrids as well as the Focus Electric. Not to be outdone by its chief Detroit rival, Ford pledged it would stay relevant in the segment by delivering a 200-mile EV before the end of the decade, and observers expect to be called the Model E.

Ford’s $4.5 billion investment in EV technology will lead to 13 hybrid or plug-in models by 2020, so many expect Model E to be not one but three cars:

  1. A long-range EV
  2. A plug-in hybrid with over 50 miles of electric range
  3. A standard hybrid

Fleet Planning for Present and Future

Since production delays and spec changes are common when future vehicles are discussed, fleet owners cannot rest their hopes on the arrival of cars in the coming years. To get operational costs down today, the current market’s electric vehicle offerings can reduce emissions and lower fueling needs.

Here are some things fleet owners should watch out for when considering EVs:

  • Public charging stations in the area
  • Purchase incentives
  • Region-specific product lineups
  • Other incentives, including HOV lane access
  • Impact on community relations re: noise and emissions

There are many businesses that can benefit from electric vehicles featuring 100 miles of range or less, and the list will become a long one by 2017. The trick is knowing the formula to compare a conventional combustion-engine model to the EV you believe can replace it. FleetCarma has the data to help make these business decisions.

The next generation of electric vehicles is arriving sooner than anyone expected, and the new products mean more options for running your fleet economically. A revolution in fleet operation has already begun.

*We recently held a webinar on maximizing the ROI of fleet electrification. It covered how to integrate EVs into your fleet with confidence, how to maximize an EV’s workload, and how to optimize charging. You can download the slides or watch the recording here.

Maximizing the ROI of Fleet Electrification Webinar

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