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When Will Plug-In Electric SUVs And Crossovers Go On Sale?

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Tesla displayed an interior refresh for their Model X at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show. Photo by Joe Nuxoll.

Tesla displayed an interior refresh for their Model X at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show. Photo by Joe Nuxoll.

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Have patience, all you SUV and crossover fans who desperately want one that plugs in and runs electrically.

They're coming, but you've got a year to wait--or perhaps a bit less, with luck.

2012 Toyota RAV4 EV, Newport Beach, California, July 2012

2012 Toyota RAV4 EV, Newport Beach, California, July 2012

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Only two vehicles remotely qualify today as plug-in crossovers or SUVs, and neither offers all-wheel drive--a necessity for many, many utility-vehicle buyers. 

DON'T MISS: Ford Cuts Gas Mileage On 6 Models: What You Need To Know, And Open Questions

The first is the low-volume Toyota RAV4 EV--of which only 2,600 will be built for model years 2012 through 2014, and which is sold in California only as a compliance car--there aren't any crossover utility vehicles or SUVs that plug in.

The second is the Ford C-Max Energi, a compact hatchback plug-in hybrid launched in 2013 whose electric range and efficiency ratings were lowered last week by Ford.

That will change next year. Here's our rundown of what's coming:

Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-In Hybrid, 2012 Paris Motor Show

Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-In Hybrid, 2012 Paris Motor Show

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MITSUBISHI OUTLANDER PLUG-IN HYBRID: Jan-Jun 2015?

The struggling Japanese automaker actually launched the world's first plug-in hybrid SUV more than a year ago, and it too has sold well in Asia and in Europe.

The company is now constrained both by battery-pack supply and by the need to modify the plug-in hybrid Outlander to meet U.S. regulations.

Its plug-in SUV has been delayed a number of times, although a Mitsubishi source suggested that it will arrive in the U.S. more quickly than the most dire predictions that delayed it to Fall 2015.

We suspect that when the plug-in Outlander arrives, it'll include updates to equipment and perhaps even styling that launch that model's mid-cycle refresh. The current model has been on sale in gasoline form in the U.S. for two years now.

Tesla Model X prototype in Culver City, California [photo by Instagram user jmtibs]

Tesla Model X prototype in Culver City, California [photo by Instagram user jmtibs]

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TESLA MODEL X: Volume deliveries start April-June 2015

The second volume model from electric-car startup Tesla Motors has, like its earlier models, been somewhat delayed from the originally announced schedule.

MORE: 2015 Tesla Model X Crossover Reservations: 13,000, Maybe

On an earnings call several weeks ago, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that volume production of the Model X--originally scheduled for around now, then postponed to the last quarter of this year--would ramp up in the second quarter of 2015.

It's still possible that handfuls of early-production Model X electric crossovers will trickle out of the second assembly line at Tesla's assembly plant in Fremont, California.

UPDATE: Tesla just mailed Model X reservation holders to assure them that deliveries would, in fact, begin in early 2015. All-wheel drive will be standard, and a folding third-row seat will be optional.

Tesla Model X at 2013 Detroit Auto Show

Tesla Model X at 2013 Detroit Auto Show

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But unless you're on the Tesla board or a very early depositor indeed, you likely won't have a chance at delivery until next spring--or thereafter.

In fact, Tesla still hasn't shown the final production version of the Model X, though prototypes have been seen testing in a variety of locations.

The Model X, built on the same underpinnings as the Model S sedan but with a second electric motor up front to give it all-wheel drive, is the sole all-electric SUV in the group.

All the rest have battery ranges that will likely come in at 12 to 20 miles, with a gasoline engine for maximum power or for use in hybrid mode once the battery pack is depleted.


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