2017 Volkswagen e-GolfEnlarge Photo
Sometimes the competition among global automakers can seem like watching a professional sports league.
Powerhouse teams—GM, Renault Nissan, Toyota, VW Group, the four largest global makers—compete against each other as well as against smaller, scrappier upstarts with devoted and loyal fan bases.
They field varied lineups of players (errrr, models) that change from time to time as the rules of the game evolve.
Often it takes time for brand-new players to become successful, and not every team captain is willing to rotate in new and untried players at the same pace.
Watching automakers compete for sales, in other words, can be just as much fun as watching your favorite teams clash inside the stadium.
In that light, the gradual emergence of plug-in electric cars onto the field of play has the potential to be a game-changer over time.
Which company's electric-car success will surprise us?— Green Car Reports (@GreenCarReports) September 5, 2017
So, in our latest Twitter poll, we're asking which underdog teams may end up surprising us.
Among electric cars, the global leaders today are China's BYD, Japan's Nissan (now allied with Mitsubishi as well as longtime partner Renault), and GM and Tesla from the U.S.
For our slate of underdogs, we've picked four companies that are nowhere near the numeric achievements of the league leaders.
Hyundai-Kia has aggressive plans in every part of the world, using every type of powertrain, but so far it's limited production of its plug-in vehicles and hasn't yet had any breakout successes on a global scale—though possibly its Ioniq could become one.
2017 Hyundai Ioniq ElectricEnlarge Photo
Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler has been Germany's strongest hydrogen fuel-cell proponent, but has recently increased the urgency and launch dates of its coming lineup of 10 electric cars.
Toyota, meanwhile, has been perhaps the most public proponent of fuel-cell vehicles among all world carmakers, and continues to say it doesn't feel electric cars are ready for mass production outside of small, low-range, urban minicars.
Finally, Volkswagen Group may be the carmaker that now spends the most time discussing its future plans for electric cars in an effort to move past the VW diesel emission scandal: it says it will launch up to 30 plug-in models globally by 2025.
One of those four makers, now in the second tier as far as plug-in electric cars are concerned, may be a breakout team.
Visit our Twitter poll and tell us which one you think it will be.