What Tesla hath wrought: bumper crop of luxury electric cars

Jaguar I-Pace Concept, 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show

Jaguar I-Pace Concept, 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show

It may have taken some time, but the auto industry is now reacting to Tesla in full force.

More than four years after the first Tesla Model S was delivered, we are on the verge of a bumper crop of luxury electric cars.

A mix of established automakers and startups looking to emulate Tesla's success are planning a growing array of new models, the first of which will enter production next year.

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While some of this contingent are sedans like the Model S, many are crossover utilities that compete more directly with the Tesla Model X.

That's likely in keeping with the current popularity of utility vehicles—particularly in the U.S.

Here are the new luxury electric cars confirmed for production so far, along with some rumored to be in the pipeline.

Audi e-tron Quattro concept, 2015 Frankfurt Auto Show

Audi e-tron Quattro concept, 2015 Frankfurt Auto Show


Next year, the Audi e-tron electric SUV will enter production at one of the German automaker's existing factories, in Belgium.

It will borrow styling and likely a three-motor electric powertrain from the e-tron quattro concept launched at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show.

Lithium-ion battery cells will be supplied by Samsung SDI and LG Chem, and Audi is expected to target a range of around 300 miles on the European testing cycle.

The European cycle is much less stringent than the U.S. EPA cycle, so a comparable rating on the latter would be somewhat lower.

ALSO SEE: Audi e-tron vs Jaguar I-Pace vs Mercedes EQ: electric luxury SUVs compared (Dec 2016)

But Audi expects plug-in cars to account for 25 percent of its U.S. sales by 2025, and that goal can't be reached with just one model.

Following the e-tron, Audi is expected to launch a much smaller electric car that would compete with the BMW i3.

That model could in turn be followed by a low-volume electric sports car, possibly aimed at the BMW i8, which is a plug-in hybrid.

Hopefully that model will do better than the short-lived Audi R8 e-tron, of which only 100 were built.

Rendering of BMW i5 electric crossover utility vehicle, from patent drawings [Indian Autos Blog]

Rendering of BMW i5 electric crossover utility vehicle, from patent drawings [Indian Autos Blog]


After carrying on since launch with only the i3 and i8, BMW's "i" sub-brand will get an injection of new models.

The highest-volume will be the i5, a five-door crossover that will use similar aluminum and carbon fiber-reinforced plastic construction to the previous two "i" models.

All-wheel drive will likely be at least an option, and the i5 is expected to have an EPA-rated range of 200 to 250 miles.

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The i8 is also expected to receive a major update for the 2018 or 2019 model year, likely including the addition of the long-awaited i8 Spyder convertible model.

Finally, BMW is plotting a flagship electric sedan codenamed "iNext."

Set to debut in 2021, the iNext will also serve as a showcase for BMW's autonomous-driving technology.

Faraday Future FF 91

Faraday Future FF 91

Faraday Future

Faraday Future is a Chinese-backed startup that recently walked back plans to launch its FF 91 electric crossover by next year.

That goal was announced at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show, a year before the FF 91 and shortly before Faraday committed to building a factory from scratch in North Las Vegas, Nevada.

The FF 91 was unveiled at CES 2017, bristling with autonomous-driving hardware, a claimed 378-mile range, and 1,050 horsepower.

But work on the plant has stopped, and Faraday is expected to reduce its size, and push back the completion date to 2019.

The startup will also reduce its planned model range from seven vehicles to two.

That includes the FF 91 and a smaller crossover Faraday reportedly considers to be its true Tesla Model X competitor.

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