8 Awesome New Electric Cars You Need To Know
By Matthew Jancer, Popular Mechanics, 9 March 2018.
By Matthew Jancer, Popular Mechanics, 9 March 2018.
The days of electric cars looking like toasters or science projects is over. At this year's Geneva Motor Show, all the hottest new electric vehicles (EVs) draw eyeballs with styling first and promise to become the next great driver's car or the next great super-luxury chariot. The cool rides just happen to be electric.
1. Polestar 1
Credit: Matti Blume/Wikimedia Commons
Remember when Volvo spun off its Polestar performance division into its own brand last year? Neither do we.
Anyway, the Polestar 1 is the production descendant of 2013's Volvo Concept Coupe, a plug-in hybrid grand tourer to be built in Volvo's yet-to-open Chinese plant in 2020. Two electric motors drive the rear wheels, and a turbo- and supercharged 2.0L I4 drives the front wheels. Together they make 600 horsepower and 738 ft. lbs. of torque. Volvo plans only to build 500 each year from 2020 to 2022, but word is that pre-production demand has already reached triple the entire three-year production run. See? Sweden is sexy.
2. Lagonda Vision
Credit: Aston Martin
Aston Martin's Lagonda has been the car of the future since Gerald Ford was falling out of airplanes. Aston's original 1976 Lagonda established the origami design language of sharply raked glass and flat surfaces that carried over nicely into the striking Vision concept car.
Now Lagonda is being spun off into its own brand of all-electric luxury cars, debuting in 2021. By putting the batteries in the floor and motors in the wheel hubs, Lagonda didn't have to design the cabin around an engine block or transmission. In an era where automotive designers crowd every line, arch, and design flourish they can think of into every car, it's refreshing to see one stick with minimalist lines and a unified theme across interior and exterior.
3. Volkswagen I.D. Vizzion
Squint hard and you'll see a Dodge Intrepid. Volkswagen built the Vizzion as a peek into what autonomous cars will look like when they no longer come with steering wheels or pedals, controllable only by voice and gesture when driven “manually.”
The Vizzion's software will have at its command a 200-hp motor driving the rear wheels and a 100-hp motor driving the front wheels. When the production version goes on sale in 2022, it'll still come with a steering wheel and pedals because people aren't yet boring enough to give them up.
4. Honda Urban EV
Like the original Civic, the all-electric Urban EV is tugging at your nostalgic heartstrings in the name of lovable, simple transportation. Enter through suicide doors and the four-seater carries two regular-sized humans up front and two contortionists in back. The windshield-spanning touchscreen cleans up the dashboard and replaces a myriad of switchgear and gauges, both modernist and utilitarian at once.
Honda will start taking orders for the Urban EV in early 2019 for a late-2019 European launch, and it'll come with an Alexa-like voice assistant called the Honda Automated Network Assistant, which vaguely promises to detect driver emotions and make on-the-fly driving suggestions. No telling yet whether it'll go full-blown HAL 9000 if you drive like an idiot.
5. Honda Sport EV
Credit: Mj-bird/Wikimedia Commons
We see what Honda's doing here. Slapping off-white paint and big badges on cars to hint that we can return to the era of simplicity even as we move into the all-electric age. And it's working.
Proponents of electric cars often brag of the electric motor's ability to deliver all its torque at any speed, but any driver knows that power without feel and handling makes for a numb missile, not a sports car. Honda claims the Sport EV to be a proper sports car because of its low center of gravity, which is part design choice and part a result of the now-standard packaging of batteries in the floor. Unlike with the Urban EV, Honda is silent on whether the Sport EV has any shot at production.
6. Renault EZ-GO
Credit: Werner Bayer/Flickr
The EZ-GO is Renault's vision of the near-future's taxi cab, a fully autonomous glass box you hail from your phone or at one of its permanent depots dotted throughout cites. There's nothing more terrifying than a world in which passengers can live out their Crazy Taxi fantasies, so there will be no driver controls or ways to command the EZ-GO manually.
Up to six passengers board through a front hatch and sit in U-shape. Side-facing seats are more dangerous in a collision, but if the promise of autonomous shepherding is fewer collisions then it's a brilliant use of a flat floor, one that's also wheelchair-accessible. Top speed is limited to 30 miles per hour. Renault wants to release the EZ-GO to production by 2022, which is awfully optimistic for a car with no driver controls.
7. Alpine A110 Pure and GT4
Credit: Alexander Migl/Wikimedia Commons
For once, the gas-only car was an outlier among show-stoppers. Retro only gets a pass if there's substance behind the round headlights, and there's substance in the resurrected A110. Parent company Renault's second-generation A110, 41 years after the original quit production, reaffirms the French can in fact still build interesting cars. When practically every other sports car on the road weighs as much as two classic sports cars, the rear-mid-engine A110 keeps its weight to a feathery 2,400 pounds, slightly lower for the new Pure trim debuted at Geneva.
Credit: TACOSA (Talleres Colorado,S.A.)/Facebook
For the race version aimed at the GT4 European Series (pictured above), Alpine kept the production car's 1.8L turbo I4, making it one of the only four-bangers in a series of sixes and eights (and some tens), but swapped in a sequential transmission. You'll see it on the grid in the later half of 2018. Who cares if it looks like a Porsche Cayman. We say the Cayman looks like the original A110.
8. Nissan Formula E Racer
Heading into its fifth season for 2018-2019, Formula E says goodbye to the first-generation Renault racer that birthed the most successful electric-car racing series yet, and hello to Nissan's second-generation racer, which looks like a paper airplane one step before you finish it. It'll be the first season in which drivers don't swap depleted cars for fresh ones halfway through races. The Nissan doubles battery capacity over the outgoing Renault from 28 kWh to 54 kWh, giving it enough juice for an entire race. Power bumps from 270 hp to 335 hp, raising top speed from 140 MPH to 174 MPH. Formula E has been pinned to short, twisty tracks by the speed-gimped Renault cars for four seasons. Here's to hoping the Nissan successors will open the series up to more high-speed tracks.
Top image: General views from the Geneva Motor Show 2018. Credit: ITU Pictures/Flickr.
[Source: Popular Mechanics. Some images and links added.]