Following Chevy and Tesla, Asian Carmakers Plan for Long-Range EVs

By · June 15, 2017

Hyundai might be planning a 240-mile all-electric SUV based on its new Kona model. It’s not clear if it will come to the United States.

The new era of affordable long-range electric cars was launched when the 238-mile Chevrolet Bolt went on sale in December. By the end of 2017, the Bolt will be joined by the Tesla Model 3, which will offer similar range for a similar price of about $30,000 after tax incentives. Those two models put American car manufacturers in the lead for practical long-range EVs. But, based on statements from executives from Asian carmakers, car shoppers will also soon have the choice of affordable long-range EVs from Nissan, Hyundai and others.

Ponz Pandikuthira, vice president-product planning for Nissan Europe, this week said, “The [range] threshold for the next generation of EVs is going to be significantly larger than those on the market right now.” He said that he expects a “step-up” to as much as 300 miles on a single charge—especially for vans and light-duty commercial vehicles that have extra space for big battery packs. There are also suggestions that a third-generation version of the Nissan LEAF will be introduced in the early 2020s with a range that exceeds 300 miles.

Meanwhile, Hyundai this week unveiled its Kona small crossover SUV for the Asian market, promising that there would be a long-range all-electric version by 2018. The range, according to Hyundai, will be more than 240 miles. It’s not clear if the Kona EV will come to the United States, but the Hyundai Ioniq hatchback—with a decent 124 miles of range—went on sales in April.

Not to be left out, India’s Mahindra & Mahindra last month said it plans to ramp up production of its electric vehicles to 5,000 units a month by mid-2019. Mahindra entered the EV business in 2010 when it acquired Bengaluru-based Reva Electric Car Co. Since then, it has only sold 2,700 vehicles—small models such as the e2o and eVerito sedan. Mahindra this week announced that it will invest in battery technology that allows its cars to travel about 250 miles per charge.

The global race will also include European carmakers. Audi is expected to launch its 310-mile e-tron Quattro all-electric SUV 2018, to be soon followed by a sedan with similar range. By about 2020, Audi said it will have three long-range EVs in its lineup. Volkswagen, Audi’s parent company, said it will deliver a full range of plug-in cars in the next few years. The company unveiled the Volkswagen I.D. concept car in 2016, promising a similar electric SUV with a range of more than 240 miles by 2020.

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