When it comes to electric cars, Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) is the name most people think of. It definitely sells more electric cars than anyone else, despite their steep price tag — in fact Tesla has hit the 200,000-vehicle mark in the U.S., which means its federal subsidy for buyers will begin to wind down.
Of course the Model 3 and its production challenges have constantly been in the headlines this year as well.
But Tesla is far from the only option these days. General Motors (NYSE:GM) has moved enough electric cars that potential buyers will begin to see its eligibility for federal rebates take a hit shortly after Tesla, and there are a growing number of other alternatives.
The reality is that while fully self-driving cars remain a product that will arrive sometime in the future, electric cars are here now. If they’re not quite mainstream, they’re no longer just niche players. Most auto manufacturers now have a fully electric car in their lineup, although they have a tendency to skew toward the luxury end of the market due to the higher cost. Here are 10 of the best electric cars currently on the market.
Best Electric Cars: Tesla Model S
Tesla’s luxurious Model S has been in production since 2012, making it the second-oldest vehicle on this list. But it is also probably the most refined. Globally, Tesla’s luxurious performance electric car passed the 200,000 mark last December.
With a starting price in the $77,000 range (before any applicable subsidies), it’s not a cheap ride. But the Model S has a 5-Star safety rating, all wheel drive, a 259 mile range (which can be optionally increased to 335 miles), 400kW hours of free annual SuperCharger credits and 0-60 times of 4.2 seconds. Buyers also have the option to pay extra for Tesla’s Enhanced Autopilot technology.
Starting at $69,500, luxury auto maker Jaguar’s I-PACE is set to challenge Tesla in the premium electric car market.
While it lacks Tesla’s SuperCharger network and high-tech Autopilot technology, the I-PACE offers Jaguar cachet, all-wheel drive, 234 mile range and a 4.5 second 0-60 mph time, yet still comes in under the price of the Model S.
Since it’s just entering into the fully electric car market, Jaguar’s I-PACE will enjoy U.S. federal buyer credits for the foreseeable future, adding to that financial advantage.
Chevrolet offers a counterpoint to Tesla’s electric cars with the Bolt, a vehicle aimed to be affordable. It has a $36,620 starting price, but the federal tax credit brings that down to $29,995 — at least until GM hits the magic 200,000 unit number.
The Bolt may not offer the cutting-edge technology, luxurious trappings and smoking performance of a Tesla, but it will go 238 miles on a charge.
The Nissan (OTCMKTS:NSANY) LEAF is the oldest model on this list, with the first version of Nissan’s all-electric hitting North American markets in 2010. It’s the world’s best-selling electric car, passing 300,000 units globally at the start of this year. With 123,000 lifetime U.S. sales, Leaf buyers will still qualify for that federal tax credit for some time yet.
Like the Bolt, the Nissan Leaf is a compact car, aimed to be affordable. For a $29,990 starting price (minus the federal subsidy), the 2019 version of this four-door hatchback offers 150 miles of driving range on a charge.
A larger battery option is rumored for later this year, offering over 225 miles of range.
VW’s e-Golf has been a popular choice among urban commuters. It offers a range of 125 miles on a charge, a $30,495 starting price, and a driving experience that’s prized for its “regular car” feel. Like the gas-powered Golf, it has room for five and with the rear seats folded, has the versatility to carry cargo as well.
The e-Golf can be tough to find in the U.S. market, and that might get even more difficult with rumors Volkswagen will discontinue it in favor of a hybrid car.
Tesla Model X
Americans love SUVs. With trucks and SUVs approaching 70% of new vehicle sales in the U.S., it only makes sense that an SUV-style electric car would be popular.
Tesla leads the category with its Model X. This all-electric SUV features a range of up to 295 miles, room for seven, smart air suspension, a panoramic windshield, a front trunk, falcon-wing rear doors, a towing package and a price tag that starts at $83,000.
Upgrade to P100D version — with a top speed of 155 mph and 0-to-60 times of 2.9 seconds — and you’ll be shelling out $140,000.
BMW’s i3 electric car replaced a Prius as Larry David’s eco-friendly wheels of choice on Curb Your Enthusiasm. The i3 offers a unique look, a hatchback with carbon fiber and aluminum construction and funky, two-tone paint options.
BMW is marketing the i3 as not just an electric car, but the most sustainably built car, starting with an emissions-free factory and environmentally friendly materials such as eucalyptus trim and leather tanned with olive leaf extract. The BMW i3 starts at $44,450 with the base model delivering 114 miles per charge (an optional range extender takes that to 180 miles).
Technically, the Audi E-tron was not available at time of publication, as its release was delayed because of a software issue. Yes, the cutting-edge tech used in electric cars means that software bugs are now something to worry about…
However, once it’s here, the E-tron is a highly anticipated entry in the electric SUV market. With a price starting at $74,800, it undercuts the Telsa Model X, although Audi claims room for five — not seven.
The E-tron is equipped with Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system, goes 0-to-60 in 5.5 seconds, includes Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) Alexa integration, and can tow 4,000 pounds. Battery range is expected to be about 248 miles.
Hyundai Kona EV
Hyundai is also chasing the SUV market, but the new Kona Electric is aimed at those who want a smaller version version for urban driving — and who don’t have $75,000 to drop on a new car.
Like the Audi E-tron, the Hyundai Kona Electric isn’t available in the U.S. yet (it will be here in early 2019), but it’s on this list because it is already generating a ton of hype and is expected to be a brisk seller. The Kona Electric is a small SUV, yet its battery range is rated at 258 miles. That puts it above the base Tesla Model 3, Chevy Bolt and Nissan Leaf. The kicker is the Kona Electric price is expected to start at just $30,000 after the federal incentive.
Tesla Model 3
Finally on this list is the car that’s expected to make or break Tesla: the Model 3. Demand has been steady for the Model 3 — despite the fact that the company has yet to release a promised low-price version — and with Model 3 production ramping up to full speed, Tesla is now churning out cars at rate of close to 1,000 per day.
The Model 3 is the target that all the traditional auto makers are aiming at when it comes to mass-market appeal. Until that base model arrives, the most affordable Model 3 currently starts at $45,000. But it offers luxury touches, 260 mile range, zippy performance and advanced safety features. In July, the Tesla Model 3 wasn’t just the top-seller among electric vehicles in the U.S., it placed seventh among passenger cars, overall — including gas versions.
That sales performance bodes well for both Tesla, and for the future of electric cars in general.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.