In 2018, Number of Available Plug-in Cars Will Grow Beyond 50 Models

By · January 02, 2018

Exciting EV models like the Jaguar I-Pace will be introduced in 2018. But more modest offerings will continue to drive electric car sales.

As we embark upon 2018, there are more than 40 plug-in vehicles available to American consumers. Nearly 10 new models, mostly plug-in hybrids rather than pure electric cars, were added to dealerships over the course of last year—giving car shoppers an unprecedented amount of choice among vehicles that are powered by electricity. That trend is likely to continue this year, with another 10 or so models scheduled for introduction this year.

That’s great news for EV shoppers, even if industry analysts are not seeing a major growth in overall demand. “When you hear people talk about the tipping point, it’s really that they’re counting the number of product offerings,” said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford’s global head of product development and purchasing. Despite the expanded choice, most EV shoppers continue to select established cars for new electric cars and plug-in hybrids. In other words, the short list of great EVs remains unchanged: the Tesla Model S and X, Chevrolet’s Bolt and Volt, the Nissan LEAF, and Toyota Prius Prime.

There was a 30-percent increase in the number of plug-in models, but the growth in total sales volume in 2017 was closer to 15 percent. EVs and plug-in hybrids represent about 1 percent of all vehicle sales in the United States.

New and improved versions of existing popular models, the Nissan LEAF and BMW i3, especially deserve a look this year. Both models get a boost in range and power. And yet, the LEAF with 150 miles of range and the all-electric i3 with 114 miles on a single charge will fight against perceptions that all of today’s EVs should offer 200 or more miles of range, like the Chevrolet Bolt and Tesla Model 3.

Most notable for early 2018, there will be a plug-in hybrid version of the Kia Niro. The Niro earns points for appealing to youthful car buyers and its ability to comfortably seat five passengers. The 2018 Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid has a range of 30 miles on electricity alone before the gasoline engine takes over, with a total gas-electric driving range of 560 miles. It starts at $27,900 for the base LX trim-with the crossover’s price rising to $34,500 for the top-of-the-line EX Premium trim. (The Nira beats the price and specs of the Mitsubishi Outlander plug-in hybrid, which finally arrives in 2018 after years of delays.)

Further down the road, an all-electric variant of the Niro is expected in late 2018 or early 2019—maybe about the same time as the all-electric Hyundai Kona SUV. Industry analysts believe the Kona EV will be equipped with a 50 kilowatt-hour battery pack, pushing its range beyond 200 miles on a single charge. The price for the all-electric Kona is expected to be less than $40,000. That’s a compelling package for an affordable all-electric EV.

If you are eager to get behind the wheel of a more stylish and capable crossover EV—and have deep pockets—you might consider either the Jaguar I-Pace or Audi E-Tron Quattro. The two powerful and stylish long-range EVs will grant 250 or more miles of driving range. They arrive in late 2018, although with hefty price tags of around $75,000.

New to EVs? Start here

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