For the Tesla fans who attended last night’s Model Y unveiling event in Hawthorne, California, the effects of the open bar and Elon Musk’s pizzazz should be just about wearing off. Which means it’s time to get serious here, people, and size up the competition.
The baby SUV Model Y will come in a few versions, priced from $39,000 to $60,000, offering ranges between 230 and 300 miles. Those are impressive specs, but while a new Tesla still feels like a major event, a whole host of family-toting electric SUVs are already on sale or about to come online. Glitzy debuts for the Jaguar I-Pace, Mercedes-Benz EQC, and Audi E-tron have come and gone. You can place an order for the mass market Hyundai Kona Electric right now, or pocket your checkbook for another few months, when you should be able to write one for the Kia Niro EV. Meanwhile, BMW, Porsche, Chinese upstart Byton, and American startup Rivian are working toward rolling out their own zappy SUVs and taking a juicy bite out of a market that Tesla has long dominated.
In truth, there’s probably enough of that market to go around. SUVs made up nearly half of total auto retail sales in the US last year, according to market research firm JD Power and Associates, up from 36 percent in 2014. Tesla might have an electric hit on its hands. So might everyone else.
Still, chances are that you, dear individual, won’t buy more than one electric SUV in the next couple of years. To help you sort through the options, we’ve rounded up some specs for those available now and those coming soon.
“Efficiency” is a difficult thing to capture in EVs, thanks to the various metrics and standards used around the world. But an easy way to measure the efficiency of a vehicle’s battery pack is to compare size with range. If a car can travel a long distance on one small battery charge, then that’s an efficient battery—and, potentially, a cheaper one to own, because you’re paying less to “top off” at the charging station. (Also, spending less time sitting there while your car charges.) Tesla hasn’t put out the specs for the battery packs it will put in the Model Y, but Musk has said the Model 3 uses roughly 50 kilowatt-hour and 75 kilowatt-hour packs for its standard and performance variants—so we’ll assume that’s what the Model Y is working with too.
Now let’s look at sprint times. Turns out, even SUVs can be quick when you run them on batteries. The Performance version of the Model Y should go 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds, as should Porsche’s upcoming Mission E Cross Turismo. As with most things, less money will get you less: The Model Y hits 60 from standing in 5.9 seconds, and the mass market Kia Niro EV does it in 7. Still, even those laggards are plenty fast if all you’re doing is trying to merge onto the highway.
Bringing it all together: Look at all those electric SUV options! Though there’s an important caveat here: The Mercedes EQC’s range is based on European testing, as is the Audi e-Tron’s. The EPA’s testing process tends to be less forgiving, to the tune of 20 percent or so. And keep in mind that as some of these vehicles near production, some of their specs will probably change.
If you’re really thinking about taking the plunge into electric SUVs, chances are you want to do a bit more research into what the things look like and how reliable they prove. Also, check out the electric vehicle charging infrastructure in your area. And then maybe drive one or two and get a taste of those sprint times for yourself.
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