After a decade of overheated hype, EVs are approaching the threshold of crossing over from virtue-signaling early adoption to genuine mainstream acceptance. Yes, they still represent just four percent of new-car sales and are propped up by generous state and federal incentives. But the fast-tracking impacts from climate change—and President Biden’s executive order that EVs account for 50 percent of new vehicles sold in the U.S. by 2030—are prodding marques from Ford to Ferrari, Buick to Bentley, to plug in and get the unleaded out. In the meantime, behold these power players from autodom’s big boys and some feisty new kids on the block.
Audi has relentlessly upped its game in the EV category. The 2022 e-tron GT adds a particularly sharp arrow to that quiver. Built on the same platform as Porsche’s Taycan, the Audi GT flaunts 637 horsepower, face-flattening acceleration, and a mug that asks, “You talkin’ to me?” From $100,945.
Mercedes-Benz dropped more than a billion euros developing its EQS sedan, the first clean-sheet, all-electric model to enter its hallowed S-Class stable of luxury barges. While the EQS’s performance stats are state-of-the-art—350 miles of range and a super-slippery 0.20 drag coefficient—it’s the interior that has jaws dropping, particularly this optional Hyperscreen that unfurls across the entire dash, From $125,000, available for order later this fall.
March of the Tesla Killers
Porsche, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz were blindsided when Tesla swooped in and started eating their luxury lunch with the game-changing Model S. The Germans have since regrouped; now, another California upstart, Lucid Motors, aims to out-Tesla Tesla with the dreamy Air all-electric sedans, with an industry-leading 517 miles of range, über-fast charging (300 miles in 20 minutes), and a cabin like the flight deck of the Starship Enterprise as rendered by the Bauhaus. From $77,400, available for preorder.
Now that cheap, ugly e-scooters from Bird, Lime, and other faux-populist “personal mobility” startups are littering L.A.’s sidewalks again, Unagi’s The Model One offers a good alternative to bad motor scooters. The folding frame is constructed from carbon fiber and aluminum, with a magnesium-alloy handlebar imbedded with intuitive electronic controls. Safety is enhanced with a brilliant 47-lumen LED headlight and ABS braking. From $840.
Tesla’s Model S gets high marks for exterior styling, but the nine-year-old sedan’s interior has always taken a back seat to those of comparably priced rides from Mercedes, Porsche, and BMW. Enter the Model S Plaid, which upgrades the cabin from steerage to business class with Zen-like wood and earth tones, and a control yoke straight out of a 787. The Plaid also pimps the Model S performance specs with 1,020 horsepower, 396 miles of range, and a 0-to-60 time of 1.9 seconds. From $131,190.
When Rolls-Royce and Bentley deigned to add SUVs to their lineups, it was to their everlasting benefit—the Cullinan SUV quickly became the best-selling Roller. Now Bentley has pledged it will banish gasoline-powered models by 2030; the 2022 Flying Spur Hybrid, the marque’s second electric offering, is hand-built in Crewe, England. From $200,000, available in 2022.
Amazon-funded startup Rivian Automotive’s long-gestating R1S electric SUV—along with its R1T pickup—should finally start hitting streets this fall. Besides the enigmatic fascia with its lozenge-shaped peepers, what differentiates the R1S from other e-SUVs? For one, a dedicated national network of fast-charging stations like Tesla’s, capable of dosing power-hungry Rivians with 140 miles of range in 20 minutes. From $70,000.
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