Six New Plug-In Electric Cars Coming For 2014

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BMW i3 Coupe concept

BMW i3 Coupe concept

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This is an exciting time for electric car enthusiasts. From just a handful of choices only a few years ago, buyers in some states now have access to as many as a dozen different plug-in vehicles.

It's set to get even better--over the course of the next few years, another six electric vehicles are on the way. Here's our full run-down of the most important plug-in vehicles debuting over the next year.

2014 BMW i3

The 2014 BMW i3 electric car isn't just important, it's exciting too--and it's nice to be able to say that about a new electric car.

BMW has explored electric vehicles before with thorough testing programs--significantly, the MINI E and BMW ActiveE electric vehicles--and that knowledge is helping develop the i3, a compact car based on a dedicated platform. A range-extended model will also be available, to quell those with range anxiety.

It's high-tech too, with a carbon-fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) unibody, and the i3's minimalist innards are trimmed in sustainable materials. It's all very futuristic, yet as tasteful and considered as any internally-combusting BMW.

And if the i3 isn't exciting enough, the i8 plug-in hybrid sports car will arrive shortly after...

2014 Cadillac ELR

2014 Cadillac ELR

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2014 Cadillac ELR

Back when Chevy launched the Volt range-extended electric car, it promised the Voltec powertrain would appear in other vehicles.

Well, this is the first "other vehicle" it's appearing in--the 2014 Cadillac ELR. Behind the sharp-suited Cadillac styling is a thoroughly modern drivetrain, utilizing the same 1.4-liter gasoline engine as the Volt, and a similar electric drivetrain.

We say "similar" because to suit the Caddy's upmarket status, ELR drivers do get a little more power and torque than their Volt counterparts. They also get two fewer doors, turning the ELR into a sleek and distinctive coupe. Electric range stays the same though, at around 35 miles. Deliveries should begin early 2014.

2014 Chevrolet Spark EV

2014 Chevrolet Spark EV

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2014 Chevrolet Spark EV

Initially, we suspected the Chevy Spark EV to be one of the small but growing range of "compliance cars"--electric vehicles designed and built solely to meet California's requirements for electric vehicle sales.

Thankfully, that isn't the case--Chevrolet is actually rather serious about the Spark EV, and as well as making it available beyond just west coast markets, they've thoroughly re-engineered the gasoline Spark for its new electric powertrain.

The styling differences are subtle--some blue paint here, a Volt-style grille there--but under the skin it's a real wolf in sheep's clothing. A 110 kW (130 horsepower) electric motor gives it far more shove than the gasoline model, and its 400 pounds-feet torque output matches that of a Ferrari 458 Italia supercar.

The Spark EV will go on sale in several U.S. markets, as well as Canada, South Korea and Europe. U.S. pricing starts at under $32,500, pre-incentives.

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Comments (40)
  1. There are some very exciting cars on this list, and I'm sure every year the list will get longer and even more exciting especially with technology only improving with each new generation.

  2. When is the Honda Accord Hybrid Plugin going on sale?


  3. @Neil: The first Accord Plug-In Hybrids were sold in California in January (2 of 'em), but it's a slow and limited rollout. The plain old Accord Hybrid will be a nationwide car, coming in the second half of this year.

  4. The Accord plug-in has an air cooled battery so be careful, same for the Honda Fit EV...


  5. What about the Mercedes B-class EV? Is it due out in 2014? Do we know if it will be available outside the US?

  6. I agree, I am looking forward to see the B Class as well. Since Tesla is pricey, I am going to take a look at the BMW i3 and the B Class.

  7. @Cory: We're not aware of announced timing yet for the B Class Electric Drive, although it might go on sale during 2014. Its maker Daimler isn't subject to California ZEV sales requirements until 2015 (possibly later) so there's no real incentive to sell it this year or next.

  8. Okay, that makes sense. I just remember that Wired said it would be out next year, but I bet your right on the later release date.

    "Mercedes says sales will begin next year, but hasn’t outlined exactly when you can get it or how much you’ll pay for it."

  9. At the car show I was told it will go on sale by the end of 2014 in the states with a 100+ mile Tesla battery range...


  10. I guess the Model X didn't make the cut

  11. @Mark: Model X has been postponed to "late 2014" as what will likely be a 2015 model:

  12. Hands down, it's the BMW i3 that's got me most excited. (Two words: Carbon fiber!)

    And I'm not just saying that because I was one of the 500 Mini-E pioneers! But it really looks innovation--in EVs, if not cars in general--is coming!

  13. Carbon fiber is great until you have to get it insured and repaired...

  14. Both good comments! I'm intrigued by the i3 but never really worried about the insurance costs since I thought if I can afford the car, the insurance is nothing. I'll have to look at this again when more info on the i3 becomes available but I've got two more years left with my Volt anyway, so probably a year before I even worry about making a reservation, etc...

  15. Could you please post some concrete data about how carbon fiber will be vastly more expensive to insure and repair?

  16. Isn't that a "common sense"? I don't have the i3 pricing yet or its part cost yet. Nobody else does either. But anyone with any kind of technical background can derive that from just about every other parts used in other applications. Carbon fiber is more expensive than comparable steel parts. It is lighter, but more expense. That can be compared from bicycle parts to airplane parts.

    If the parts are more expensive, you can bet the insurance premium will be higher.

    But that is okay. Most BMW buyers will be gladly paying for that premium.

  17. Wasn't it the same 'common sense' which led to a statement that the i3 will be a limp-mobile in range extended mode, and not capable of going very fast?

    When real-world data was presented from the LEAF, which showed that the i3 should be able to go up to 75 miles per hour on flat terrain, you changed to requirement to uphill driving to prove your point.

    Did you own any products built from carbon fiber? I did, and they too a lot more abuse than aluminum would. When I needed to have it repaired, it was a lot more reasonable than I would have expected using the aforementioned 'common sense'. A comparable aluminum frame would have likely been junked.

    Please don't use poorly constructed arguments just to talk down something you don't like.

  18. @George Betak,

    I guess you are lacking commone sense. Apparently, you don't get the difference between going 70mph and getting up to 70mph. If the engine is ONLY powerful enough to cruise at 70mph on a flat terrain, then it is a "LIMP MODE". Acceleration takes FAR MORE energy than cruising at a constant speed. If a car can't be driven normal with various road condition, then it is a "limp mode" only car. I call that common sense.

    Now, let us go back to carbon fiber topic. Yes, I have owned many carbo fiber product, especially in my Mountain Bikes. They are way lighter than the AL products, but they aren't cheap. Sure, in performance MTB, weight is important. But it still doesn't change the fact it is MORE expense.

  19. @George Betak,

    Now, let us revisit the topic of the thread. I said the Carbon fiber will be more expense to repair and insure. Does it have anything to do with performance or weight? NO! If you get into an accident, then it will have to repaired. Parts will be more expensive and insurance cost will be higher.

    I think your problem is that you love the BMW i3 and can't take any "factual" critism. Get over it. If you can't look at a product with a critical eye, then you are just another "fan boy"...

  20. There are more comments in this thread
  21. Do we have pricing detail on i3, ELR and the Mitsubishi yet?

  22. Outlander takes it. The bigger the EV vehicle, the more gas we're saving. i3 is cool, but probably out of the price range of the average guy.

  23. Not the best timing for Mitsubishi right now... Production has been halted of this due to battery issues... Even without this, Mitsubishi is a dying brand in the U.S., dealers are few and far between and the company itself is struggling to even survive. Not exactly the best incentives to buy one, unfortunately...

    I do agree that it's nice to see the effort done on the larger vehicles. I also hope Mitsubishi makes it, both overall and with this specifically. But it's not looking promising.

  24. -1...??? Yeah, sorry that facts hurt, people. Interesting, I compliment two comments and I get the same -1. I note that Mitsubishi is having major problems with the Outlander PHEV and I get the same exact -1...

    I understand, some people aren't capable of thinking and it's always the same type of games as back in high school... I'd love to see an actual rebuttal of the FACTS I very clearly referenced here, but again, that would take actual thought, something that a few here aren't really capable of.


    Mitsubishi stopped production of the Outlander PHEV & I-MEV two weeks ago due to fires in the battery pack.

    While I also applaud the effort by Mitsubishi, the company barely exists in the American market now and this will be a struggle. Although the company officially states that the US launch of the Outlander PHEV won't be delayed, I would bet that it would, with production halted and current drivers advised not to even charge their vehicles.

  26. The absolutely hideous appearance of the Outlander PHEV is not going to help it here either. This vehicle is a great concept that is going to die on the vine.

  27. Well, many buyers are willing to overlook the style in favor of technology. I think it is a viable product if it is priced correctly. And it will be alone in that market segment with no competition.

  28. Is the Audi A3 E-Tron coming to the United States, and if so, when ?

  29. Thank you, I was thinking the same!

  30. what about the infiniti? it will be out in just about a year. i "think" it will be branded as a 2015 MY but will be out very early 2014?

  31. I've been waiting for a plug-in with more cargo space than the Volt or Ford CMAX, and most of these won't help. The Outlander might be suitable, but I would really like the Audi A3 wagon or the Volvo C60 plug-in. I need a main family car, not just a commuter car for one spouse.

  32. pricing starts at under $32,500, pre-incentives.
    Who in their right mind will actually pony up 32 grand for a sub-sub-compact?
    But take out the battery, and spread its cost over 10 years, you are looking at a 15 grand compact traveling at 3 cents a mile.
    Its the battery stupid!! Take it out of the car-buyer deal and let someone lease the miles it can produce!

  33. I have a question. When the electric driving range is quoted is it only with the driver or a passenger too ? If these driving ranges are only with one person then that extra say 200lbs will reduce the range by something like 15 to 20 miles that's a pretty important spec that seems to be missing from all the info provided with electric cars

  34. 1. Yes they are only tested with the drivers weight. But one additional passenger that is under 200 lbs will not decrease range by 15-20 miles. I would guesstimate about 2-3 mi. Based on my Volt.
    The EPA says every 100 lbs is about 1-2% of mpg/range.
    (200 lbs) 2 x 2% = 4%

    10800/255 = 42 EV miles est. and my avg.
    10800x96%=10368 / 255 = 40 EV miles est.

    2. All cars are tested under the same conditions for comparison.

  35. I would have said even less than that in real world driving.

  36. Hi Dan, Thanks for the feeback I guess it depends on the weight of the vehicle vs the weight of the passengers. If you built a superlight vehicle say a reverse trike that weighed around 1000lbs then the percentage increase in weight would be significant as opposed to a conventional electric car weighing say 3000 to 4000 lbs.
    The irony here is you build a lighter vehicle to get more range with a smaller pack but the effect on dirving range of extra weight is then magnified

  37. Which keeps bringing up the issue of how to asses road usage gees, given that they use the road, bit don't pay gasoline taxes.

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