It’s National Drive Electric Week, and events are being held across the country that will showcase the popularity of electric vehicles (EVs) and highlight the many benefits of driving on electricity. Check out where events are near you, and head on over to test drive an electric vehicle, talk with EV owners, and learn more about this exciting technology that can help cut our nation’s projected oil use in half in twenty years. Looking to help out with an event? There are plenty of volunteer opportunities too.
Despite the deserved good attention EVs are garnering this week, there have been some recent stories in the press about stalled EV sales and stagnant growth of the EV market. Though EV sales hit a plateau in 2014, EVs are not failing. In fact, total EV sales in the U.S. will cross the quarter million mark within weeks, and monthly EV sales have been above 10,000 for the last 4 months. In California alone, over 100,000 EVs have been sold since late 2010 and, when including gasoline-powered hybrids like the Toyota Prius, almost 1 in 10 new cars sold in California have some type of electric drive.
Moreover, the potential market for EVs remains huge. A survey we conducted in partnership with Consumers Union found that 42 percent of American households with a vehicle could use a plug-in EV today. That number could go even higher as more drivers gain access to a place to park and plug in through public and workplace charging initiatives, not to mention the increasing availability of hydrogen powered fuel cell electric vehicles. So, I’m excited to see EV sales continue to take off as automakers introduce new EVs to showroom floors across the country.
Here are a couple models I’m especially excited to see.
Kia Soul EV
This new version of the Kia Soul – a vehicle traditionally marketed toward younger generations – is reportedly getting a slight redesign and a 27 kWh lithium-ion battery that supports a range of around 100 miles and can be charged in as little as 33 minutes with a fast charger. The 2015 Kia Soul EV goes on sale in select markets this fall, and will hopefully quickly expand to nationwide sales. The Soul will start at $26,200 after federal rebate . The Soul also is being marketed via digital hamsters, which can be a plus or minus depending on your stance on digital hamsters.
Audi A3 Sportback e-tron
The A3 e-tron is Audi’s first plug-in hybrid vehicle, and this German hatchback will pair an electric motor with a gasoline engine to produce a range of about 30 miles of driving on electricity, and a total range comparable to similar conventional gasoline powered vehicles.
As with other Audi’s, the performance numbers are strong for a 5-door sedan. The A3 e-tron is reported to accelerate 0-60 mph in about 7 seconds, and tops out at a speed of 137.94 mph – though I certainly don’t recommend you go that fast on any public streets. Instead, save that speed for the track. It’s 8.8 kWh battery pack, which is about half the size of the Chevy Volt battery, can be fully charged in about 2.5 hours.
Tesla Model X
The next foray into the vehicle market from the prodigious Elon Musk is an all-electric SUV – the Model X. Since the unveiling of the Model X design prototype in February 2012, there have been a reported 20,000 reservations for this vehicle – signaling an initial strong demand for the Tesla to hit American roads. This vehicle will be offered with either a 60 kWh or 85 kWh battery, and will be dual motor all-wheel drive, giving the Model X a likely range of around 200 miles, though Tesla has not yet released the exact range estimates. It also has Delorean-like gull wing doors that are sure to turn plenty of heads. The first Model X units should arrive in spring 2015 and will likely be priced similar to a well equipped Model S). Watch Mr. Musk introduce the Model X here: