Automotive

The Tesla killers that could? Ten cars gunning for a slice of the EV pie

The Tesla killers that could? ...
Tesla's Model 3 became the top-selling luxury vehicle in the US last year
Tesla's Model 3 became the top-selling luxury vehicle in the US last year
View 42 Images
NIssan's Leaf e+ will be available from mid-year in the US and Europe
1/42
NIssan's Leaf e+ will be available from mid-year in the US and Europe
NIssan's Leaf e+ will offer a range of 226 mi
2/42
NIssan's Leaf e+ will offer a range of 226 mi
inside NIssan's forthcoming Leaf e+
3/42
inside NIssan's forthcoming Leaf e+
NIssan's Leaf e+ will offer around 40 percent more range than the previous model
4/42
NIssan's Leaf e+ will offer around 40 percent more range than the previous model
Tesla's Model 3
5/42
Tesla's Model 3
Tesla’s Model 3 isn’t priced for the masses yet, though the company promises it is working on it and it will be
6/42
Tesla’s Model 3 isn’t priced for the masses yet, though the company promises it is working on it and it will be
Tesla's Model 3, in its cheapest form, offers a range of 264 mi
7/42
Tesla's Model 3, in its cheapest form, offers a range of 264 mi
Tesla's Model 3 became the top-selling luxury vehicle in the US last year
8/42
Tesla's Model 3 became the top-selling luxury vehicle in the US last year
Jaguar's I-Pace SUV is positioned as an alternative to the Tesla Model X
9/42
Jaguar's I-Pace SUV is positioned as an alternative to the Tesla Model X
Jaguar's I-Pace is priced from $69,500 in the US
10/42
Jaguar's I-Pace is priced from $69,500 in the US
Jaguar's I-Pace SUV has a range of 240 mi (386 km)
11/42
Jaguar's I-Pace SUV has a range of 240 mi (386 km)
Audi’s first full electric car has been a long time coming
12/42
Audi’s first full electric car has been a long time coming
Audi’s e-tron SUV will have a range of 250 mi (402 km)
13/42
Audi’s e-tron SUV will have a range of 250 mi (402 km)
Audi’s e-tron SUV is part of a wider electrification push from the company
14/42
Audi’s e-tron SUV is part of a wider electrification push from the company
Audi's e-tron will complete the 0-60 mph (96.5 km/h) sprint in 5.5 seconds
15/42
Audi's e-tron will complete the 0-60 mph (96.5 km/h) sprint in 5.5 seconds
The EQC is the first production car to be built on Mercedes-Benz €10-billion EQ platform
16/42
The EQC is the first production car to be built on Mercedes-Benz €10-billion EQ platform
The Mercedes EQC has a range of 280 mi
17/42
The Mercedes EQC has a range of 280 mi
The Mercedes EQC will be available from mid-2019
18/42
The Mercedes EQC will be available from mid-2019
The Mercedes EQC will be available from mid-2019
19/42
The Mercedes EQC will be available from mid-2019
The Hyundai Kona SUV
20/42
The Hyundai Kona SUV
The Hyundai Kona SUV mid-range model has a range of 258 mi
21/42
The Hyundai Kona SUV mid-range model has a range of 258 mi
The Hyundai Kona SUV mid-range model will be priced at $36,450
22/42
The Hyundai Kona SUV mid-range model will be priced at $36,450
The Hyundai Kona SUV mid-range model will become available in early 2019
23/42
The Hyundai Kona SUV mid-range model will become available in early 2019
The Porsche Taycan
24/42
The Porsche Taycan
The Porsche Taycan promises a range of 500 mi on each charge
25/42
The Porsche Taycan promises a range of 500 mi on each charge
Porsche’s Taycan is the company’s first fully electric sports car
26/42
Porsche’s Taycan is the company’s first fully electric sports car
Porsche’s Taycan is the company’s first fully electric sports car
27/42
Porsche’s Taycan is the company’s first fully electric sports car
BMW’s i3 electric sedan has been around the block, quite a few times in fact, but the company hopes a recent refresh can gain the model some new fans
28/42
BMW’s i3 electric sedan has been around the block, quite a few times in fact, but the company hopes a recent refresh can gain the model some new fans
The BMW i3 has a range of 160 mi
29/42
The BMW i3 has a range of 160 mi
The BMW i3 is priced at $44,500
30/42
The BMW i3 is priced at $44,500
The BMW i3 is priced at $44,500
31/42
The BMW i3 is priced at $44,500
The latest Chevy Bolt addressed a shortcoming of previous models with a range of 238 mi
32/42
The latest Chevy Bolt addressed a shortcoming of previous models with a range of 238 mi
The latest Chevy Bolt is priced at $36,620
33/42
The latest Chevy Bolt is priced at $36,620
The latest Chevy Bolt is priced at $36,620
34/42
The latest Chevy Bolt is priced at $36,620
The latest Chevy Bolt addressed a shortcoming of previous models with a range of 238 mi
35/42
The latest Chevy Bolt addressed a shortcoming of previous models with a range of 238 mi
The Kia Niro EV has a range of around 240 mi
36/42
The Kia Niro EV has a range of around 240 mi
The Kia Niro EV has a range of around 240 mi
37/42
The Kia Niro EV has a range of around 240 mi
The Kia Niro EV will be priced at around $38,000
38/42
The Kia Niro EV will be priced at around $38,000
The Tesla Model S
39/42
The Tesla Model S
Tesla's Model X
40/42
Tesla's Model X
A teaser image of the Polestar 2
41/42
A teaser image of the Polestar 2
EV price and range comparison
42/42
EV price and range comparison

It didn't come easily, but Tesla's mission to become an influential force in electric vehicle manufacturing, and the automotive industry as a whole, is beginning the bear some fruit. The Palo Alto-based company is not without its problems, but did start 2019 as the maker of the best-selling luxury vehicle in the US after recording back-to-back quarterly profits for the first time in its history, and has now claimed an unparalleled share of the EV market as it begins expansions into China and Europe. But the new year will also bring new competitors, with legacy automakers preparing to wheel out shiny new electric cars of their own. So how will they stack up?

Just like its eccentric CEO, the story of Tesla is as polarizing as it is engrossing. With a long-stated goal of using compelling electric vehicles to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy, the company's offerings continue to tempt more and more folks toward zero-local-emission transport.

This was led largely by Tesla's Model 3, originally billed as a vehicle for the masses with a US$35,000 sticker price, though the company has only sold more expensive versions at higher price points so far. For now, it is priced between $42,900 and $60,900, before optional extras such as Enhanced Autopilot and performance upgrades.

In spite of this, the vehicle brought in more revenue than any other US car in the final quarter of 2018 according to CleanTechnica, outstripping perennially popular cars like the Toyota Camry and the Honda Accord. It was also the best-selling premium car in the US for all of 2018 with 146,000 units sold. The Lexus RX came in a relatively distant second with 112,000 units sold.

Tesla skeptics have long held the view that the moment legacy automakers made their move into the electric car space, their brand power and resources would quickly and easily banish Tesla to the backseat, or bankruptcy. Short seller and long-time Tesla critic Citron Research said this of the Model 3 around five years ago:

"By the time this product is even approaching market, there will be multiple other 200-mile range plug-ins that have been out for years."

Former vice-chairman of General Motors Bob Lutz is another with serious doubts of Tesla's viability.

"Global competition is coming," he said in a September interview with CNBC. "This Audi e-tron is not a big surprise, we've known it was coming for the last two and a half years, Mercedes is going to have one, BMW too, Porsche is going to have a four-door sedan with a 300-mi range and GM has announced 20 different electric vehicle models. The thing about all these is they can all be sold at a loss for environmental compliance reasons and the losses can be recouped on the internal combustion ones, the ones that 95 percent of Americans still want.

"The jaws are tightening and I think in another year or two we'll see a movie called 'Who Killed Tesla,' a conspiracy movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio," Lutz went on to say.

Others dismiss the idea of a "Tesla killer" entirely, taking the view that given the company's lead in the area, no realistic competition exists and won't for quite some time. Citron Research reported that Tesla sold 54,540 Model 3s in the US in Q3 of last year, in addition to 8,000 Model S units and 7,000 of its Model X. The Toyota Prius was the next best EV with 6,268 units, with industry stayers like the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Bolt lagging well behind at around 4,000 units sold for the quarter.

It seems clear that when people in the US think electric cars, they think Tesla. But what about elsewhere? Indeed, if the company is to face competition on the global stage, that competition will come from China. To call it a sleeping giant wouldn't be accurate, as demand in the country is soaring and has been for quite some time.

Electric vehicle sales in China overtook electric vehicle sales in the US back in 2015, and haven't looked back since. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), 1.26 million electric vehicles were sold in China in 2018 compared to just 361,307 in the US, with sales increasing by 62 percent compared to 2017.

China-based automaker BYD provided almost half of these with 520,100 sold in 2018, according to InsideEVs, though Tesla will look to make an imprint on this market when it begins producing cars at its Shanghai Gigafactory by the end of this year. It bears mentioning that electric cars account for a minuscule portion of total global car sales, still around one percent, though the WEF notes that the market has grown six-fold since 2013 and doubled since 2015.

All of this points to critical juncture in the story of Tesla, and the electric vehicle revolution as a whole. The company has spent 16 years honing its approach to electric vehicle production, but is its lead in the US now unassailable? There are all sorts of variables that will come into play, like regulations, tax incentives tariffs and the big one, potential manufacturing woes of the kind that plagued Tesla for so long.

Such forecasts are better left to Wall Street. Here we're focussing on new and upcoming electric cars with the kind of performance, range and pricing that could steal a sideways glance from the Tesla boardroom. These prices are intended as an indicator only, as they will vary between markets and may be lowered by tax incentives for electric vehicles in the US. There is also a notable omission from the list in Toyota, which although it has bold plans for the EV space, appears to be playing more of a long game. We've also thrown in Tesla's less popular but higher-end Model S and Model X for the sake of comparison.

The Yardstick: Tesla Model 3 (mid-range version, rear-wheel drive)

Tesla’s Model 3 isn’t priced for the masses yet, though the company promises it is working on it and it will be
Tesla’s Model 3 isn’t priced for the masses yet, though the company promises it is working on it and it will be

  • Price: $42,900
  • Range: 264 mi (425 km)
  • Availability: Now

Tesla's Model 3 isn't priced for the masses yet, though the company promises it is working on it and it will be. The car is selling in numbers unmatched for an EV, though CEO Elon Musk sees other gasoline cars as Tesla's real competitors in its mission to sway the masses away from fossil fuels.

Tesla Model X SUV

Tesla's Model X
Tesla's Model X

  • Price: $88,000 (base model)
  • Range: 270 mi (434 km)
  • Availability: Now

Tesla Model S

The Tesla Model S
The Tesla Model S

  • Price: $85,000
  • Range: 310 mi (500 km)
  • Availability: Now

Nissan Leaf e+

NIssan's Leaf e+ will offer a range of 226 mi
NIssan's Leaf e+ will offer a range of 226 mi

  • Price: Around $38,000 in Japan. Unknown for US market
  • Range: 226 mi (363 km)
  • Availability: Mid-year in the US and Europe

Nissan's Leaf is a name that's never too far from the EV discussion, but despite this has only sold around 128,000 units in the US since its introduction in 2010, a number Tesla's Model 3 topped last year alone. Nissan will be hoping that the Leaf e+, which offers around 40 percent more range than the predecessor, can start to bridge the gap.

Jaguar I-Pace SUV

Jaguar's I-Pace SUV is positioned as an alternative to the Tesla Model X
Jaguar's I-Pace SUV is positioned as an alternative to the Tesla Model X

  • Price: From $69,500 in the US
  • Range: 240 mi (386 km)
  • Availability: Now

Jaguar's first all-electric car, the I-Pace SUV is positioned more as an alternative to the Model X than the Model 3, but does concede a little with regard to range. It undercuts the Model X in price quite considerably, however, and may prove tempting for customers considering an upgraded Model 3.

2019 Audi e-tron SUV

Audi's e-tron will complete the 0-60 mph (96.5 km/h) sprint in 5.5 seconds
Audi's e-tron will complete the 0-60 mph (96.5 km/h) sprint in 5.5 seconds

  • Price: From $74,800
  • Range: 250 mi (402 km)
  • Availability: Spring 2019 (US)

Audi's first fully electric car has been a long time coming and is part of a wider push from a company that aims to launch 20 electrified models by 2025. It will complete the 0-60 mph (96.5 km/h) sprint in 5.5 seconds, not bad for an SUV but lagging well behind other luxury electric cars like the 3.1-second Model X.

Mercedes EQC

The EQC is the first production car to be built on Mercedes-Benz €10-billion EQ platform
The EQC is the first production car to be built on Mercedes-Benz €10-billion EQ platform

  • Price: Unknown
  • Range: 280 mi (450 km)
  • Availability: Mid-2019

This is the first production car to be built on Mercedes-Benz €10-billion EQ platform, a vehicle architecture designed to serve as the backbone of electrified Mercs in the years ahead. The 2020 EQC is powered by a 300-kW (402 hp) 4WD electric powertrain, and will complete the 0-60 mph (96.6 km/h) sprint in 4.9 seconds.

Hyundai Kona SUV (mid-range model)

The Hyundai Kona SUV mid-range model has a range of 258 mi
The Hyundai Kona SUV mid-range model has a range of 258 mi

  • Price: $36,450
  • Range: 258 mi (415 km)
  • Availability: Early 2019

Hyundai's electric SUV is very much priced for the masses, and is part of a wider EV assault from the South Korean automaker through its planned line of IONIQ electric vehicles. The car is styled similarly to the fossil-fuel burning Kona SUV, but with some cosmetic tweaks that include a closed grill.

Kia Niro

The Kia Niro EV has a range of around 240 mi
The Kia Niro EV has a range of around 240 mi

  • Price: Around $38,000
  • Range: 240 mi (386 km)
  • Availability: Limited, in some US states from early 2019

The first fully electric version of Kia's subcompact crossover, the Niro EV pumps out 201 horsepower and 291 lb-ft of torque. Kia plans to use this same powertrain in more of its electric cars heading into the future.

Porsche Taycan

The Porsche Taycan
The Porsche Taycan

  • Price: Reports of a $90,000 base model
  • Range: 310 mi (500 km)
  • Availability: 2020

Formerly known as the Mission E concept, Porsche's Taycan is the company's first fully electric sports car and is promising some jaw-dropping numbers. It will apparently accelerate to 100 km (62 mph) in well under 3.5 seconds, onward to 200 km/h in under 12 and reportedly cover 310 mi (500 km) on each charge.

Volvo Polestar 2

A teaser image of the Polestar 2
A teaser image of the Polestar 2

  • Price: Unknown
  • Range: Unknown
  • Availability: Unknown

Little is known about the Polestar 2 at this stage, but it will be the second for the Volvo spin off and the first to carry a fully electrified drivetrain. We do know it is being built to directly compete with Tesla's Model 3 and will therefore be priced in a similar range. The company is set to properly reveal the car on February 27, so we can expect to learn more later this month.

BMW i3

The BMW i3 has a range of 160 mi
The BMW i3 has a range of 160 mi

  • Price: $44,500
  • Range: up to 160 mi (257 km)
  • Availability: Now

In a similar vein to the Nissan Leaf, BMW's i3 electric sedan has been around the block, quite a few times in fact, but the company hopes a recent refresh can gain the model some new fans. The 2019 edition offers an extended range thanks to a new 120-Ah battery pack built deep into the floor. The electric motor provides 170 hp (125 kW) and shuttles the i3 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 7.3 seconds.

Chevrolet Bolt

The latest Chevy Bolt addressed a shortcoming of previous models with a range of 238 mi
The latest Chevy Bolt addressed a shortcoming of previous models with a range of 238 mi

  • Price: $36,620
  • Range: 238 mi
  • Availability: Now

Another recognizable face in the EV game, the latest Chevy Bolt addressed a shortcoming of previous models and now offers a range comparable to the other cars listed here, at a very reasonable price. It can reach 60 mph (97 km/h) in under seven seconds and can be fast charged for a 90-mi range in half an hour.

EV price and range comparison
EV price and range comparison

35 comments
paul314
Although it won't be an issue for the luxury types, the lower price potential adopters will want to consider that for 1000 miles a month they're saving the price of something like 30 gallons of gas, which goes directly to that increment on their car payments. (And actually a little better than that, because they're paying car-financing interest rates instead of credit-card rates.)
f8lee
I wonder if the excitement about EVs will start to diminish for folks who suffer tough winters - it seems to be an issue: https://teslamotorsclub.com/tmc/threads/lousy-range-cold-weather.105476/ Of course, this would be expected as colder weather will of course kill battery life, but it's not something generally spoken of in the press.
joseph72
It is a nice article -- it makes me happy to see coverage of non-Tesla automakers finally taking BEVs seriously -- but there are some important caveats that need to be mentioned. Firstly, some of these are being treated as compliance cars by their parent companies -- being manufactured in very small numbers, and offered in only extremely limited markets. The Kia and Hyundai are examples of this; fine vehicles... if you can even manage to order one. Secondly, the vehicles presented all seem to have very impressive stats -- but many of these are estimates. The Leaf+, the Audi, the Taycan -- the ranges on these are estimates based on non-EPA testing cycles. Once they come to market in the USA, and have some driving history on the road, we will know what the actual numbers are. It is not too crazy to expect the ranges to drop about 10% -- or maybe more. Thirdly, selling a BEV at a loss & propping up profitability with ICE sales is not sustainable. Customers should be skeptical of companies pursuing such a strategy -- will support for the BEV still be there in five years? How committed is the parent company, really? GM is a typical example here -- it sells the Bolt (at small volumes) at a loss of US $7k per unit or more. It has already discontinued the Spark and the Volt -- both of which received favorable reviews from their owners. Fourthly, not all of these comparisons are exactly apples-to-apples. The Bolt, for example, does not come with DC fast charging -- unless the customer chooses to pay extra for that option. The Leaf+ apparently does not have active thermal management for the battery pack, which has caused some problems for Leaf owners in the past. GM does not offer LED headlights (which seem like a no-brainer for a car which depends on saving electricity to extend its' range) or their SuperCruise lane-keeping technology in any form on the Bolt. Nissan does have the excellent ProPilot package, but I am unsure whether it comes standard on their Leaf, or represents an optional upgrade. Porsche, Audi, BMW, and Mercedes seem to be silent on their lane-keeping abilities. Fifthly, Tesla is not a stationary target. By the time some of these 'sometime in 2020' models roll out, the Tesla Model 3 will be available in standard range, non-premium interior trims -- with a base price of US $35k before incentives. Tesla is already offering Enhanced Autopilot as a standard feature for the Model 3 in the Chinese market -- and may eventually move in that direction in other markets as well. Longevity and performance of the battery pack is another aspect to keep an eye on -- Tesla is currently driving the technology here, improving from its' current offer of an eight year or 100k miles warranty (battery will retain 70% or more of original rated capacity while under warranty). Other manufactures offer different amounts, and that can factor into a purchasing decision. There are lots of plans for BEVs out there; and that makes me very happy. BEVs are simply a better technology, but they are very young in their development and deployment. As it is, I believe that all of the vehicles in the above article will sell well -- they will readily find buyers whose needs they fit -- and the result will NOT be competition among BEVs, it will be between BEVS and the 98% of the market which is still ICE-only. But we as consumers need to make it clear with our purchases and feed-back to the auto manufacturers that we expect serious effort and good value in their BEV offerings, and for them to continue to push the frontier of BEV technology.
guzmanchinky
I've always wondered why they big manufacturers don't just offer electric drive on it's popular models. Maybe it just makes more sense to design a whole new car from the ground up? But yes, Tesla might not be able to survive if they bleed any sales to other companies, which is sad...
VincentWolf
The Bolt can be fast charged for 180 miles of range in an hour. But only one time. It slows down considerably if you try to charge it a 2nd time for another 180 miles of range to almost 2 hours. So once again Chevy built in a limiter so that you'll buy there gas car and not their electric one.
apprenticeearthwiz
Tesla will undoubtedly lose market share as other EVs become available but it's worth looking at the future size of that market. 100% of all new vehicles probably by 2025. Another factor is the availability of batteries, as basic a component of EVs as ICEs have been for ICEVs. Most legacy auto makers are outsourcing their batteries which they would never have done with their ICEs. It would have been economic lunacy.
S Michael
The U.S. automakers will once again not compete for the electric vehicle market. They, as well as everyone else, knows that the magic mileage range is 500+ per charge. The U.S. car manufacturers will obfuscate, him-haw and talk, but will not make a vehicle that will meet the 500+ range. Why not? Too many ties to the fossil fuel industry. They will rely on political payoffs, bribes, lobbying whatever it will take to put off making that car.
jimbo92107
Priced for the masses = $25 thousand dollars. Wake me when that happens.
yawood
I'll start to care when you can recharge in no more than 5 minutes.
Brian M
The pure electric that might be the competition for Tesla, but the Plug in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) like the Mitshibusi Overlander or hybrid Hydrogen/Electric vehicle (everyone seem to forget about hydrogen! The current issue with pure electric is the practicality for a single car family. Ok you can go 100 to 200 miles, then the panic to find a charging point, followed by the wait! Perfect for short known journeys (compute), but useless if you want to visit your Great Aunt 201 miles away. For most ordinary folk they want a single vehicle that will do both, the wealthy not so much. Hence pure electric vehicles are more for the rich and can stand the premium price. PHEV is a different matter, especially if rebalanced to be more electric, i.e. less powerful gas engine with perhaps top gas speed of 55MPH. and battery range of 150 miles is probably the sweet spot. Without new battery and charging technology the electric only is going to be hard pressed to compete. EV are not without their own environmental problems - hydrogen anyone?