Charged up in 2019
9 influential EVs that set the tone for last year … and beyond
CASEY WILLIAMS| Auto Reviewer
We drove some, saw some and dreamed about many more. They’re the most influential electric vehicles we met during 2019. If you want to get a hint at what you’ll be driving over the next decade, these sexy electrics point the way.
Ford Mustang Mach E. Ford shakes Mustang traditionalists with an all-electric crossover that can travel 300 miles per charge and dispatch 0–60 mph in under 4 seconds. Mustang styling cues include the angry front facia, swooping hood and wide rump with triple-barrel taillamps. Wireless phone charging and navigation come standard. Check the 15.5-in. touchscreen and panoramic glass roof. Smartphones become keys. Prices will start under $45,000 when sales begin in late 2020.
Kia Niro. Kia’s anti-Prius baby crossover goes electric. With double the power of the hybrid version, it can zip through traffic with a silent whoosh propelled by its batteries. Drive easy to see 239 miles between charges. A 480v fast charger adds 100 miles range in 30 minutes. Inside, the little crossover can be loaded with a wireless phone charger, Harman Kardon audio, heated/ventilated seats and all the latest safety tech. Prices rise from $38,500.
Jaguar I-Pace. It’s fabulously sexy, swift and nearly silent. Its compact crossover profile is accented by Jaguar’s trademark pouncing fenders over 20-in. wheels. Interiors are lavished with wood, leather, full-length sunroof, Meridian audio, Wi-Fi and glassy flatscreens. Lithium-ion batteries and all-wheel-drive take it 234 miles per charge and kick it from 0-60 mph in 4.5 seconds. Recharges to 80 percent in 40 minutes (commercial charger). Prices start around $70,000.
Rivian R1T. It travels 400 miles without gasoline, runs 0–60 mph in 3 seconds, and grilles dinner. It’s the all-electric Rivian pickup and SUV. A unique skateboard chassis contains batteries, height-adjustable air suspension and electric motors to drive it. Luggage stores beneath the hood and inside a full-width tunnel, from where the optional grilling station deploys. Interiors flaunt leather and glassy screens. Sales commence in 2020 with prices from $85,000.
Tesla Model Y. This compact crossover will become Tesla’s best-selling model. Like a taller and roomier Model 3, it packs a third-row seat, goes 300 miles per charge, and can blip 0–60 mph in 3.5 seconds. Dual motor all-wheel-drive handles all conditions. A huge 15-in. touchscreen and full length glass roof define interiors. It will eventually offer fully autonomous driving and automatic parking lot retrieval. Sales begin late 2020 with a $39,000 base price.
Nissan Ariya Concept. Unveiled in Tokyo, the Ariya explores how vehicle design can radically change with an electric powertrain. Styling includes Nissan’s V-Motion grille, rear light blade and giant 21-in. wheels, but the minimalist interior is a refuge with haptic dash controls that light when fingers glide over them. Thin seats and synthetic leather continue the modern vibe. The crossover offers hands-off driving with navigation support and remote parking retrieval via smartphone.
Mercedes-Benz EQS Concept. Glimpse tomorrow with this Mercedes S-Class concept. Batteries go 435 miles, can reach 80 percent charge in 20 minutes, and erase 0–60 mph in 4.5s. Aero bodywork is adorned with a glittering LED light panel up front and light belt across the rear. The serene interior harbors twin-screen infotainment, sleek wood and rose gold speaker grilles. View sky through a glass roof. With autonomous driving, passengers will have time to enjoy their surroundings.
Renault EZ-Ultimo Concept. Inspired by Parisian architecture, adorned with crisp lines and spatted fenders, this fully autonomous EV points towards 2030. Passengers enjoy a neo-retro salon that pays homage to classical French design and modern aesthetics with parquet American walnut floors, green velvet and dark marble. Batteries beneath the floor recharge wirelessly. Four-wheel steering aids urban maneuverability while the active suspension lowers for entry/exit.
Lexus LF-30 EV Concept. Welcome to 2030. Styling takes advantage of new proportions for a short nose, arching roof and gullwing doors. An airy cabin boasts flatscreen panels, yolk control system and gesture-controlled glass roof that can project videos, navigation, or the night sky above. The integrated drive system boasts in-wheel motors for dynamic control, autonomous chauffer and self-parking. Wirelessly charged batteries provide 310 miles range and 0–62 mph in 3.8s. █