Andrew Moseman has covered science, technology, and transportation for publications such as The Atlantic, Inverse, Insider, Outside, and MIT Technology Review. He was previously digital director of Popular Mechanics and now serves as online communications editor at Caltech. He is based in Los Angeles. Read MoreRead More
10 Electric Cars Worth Waiting For
From the ID.Buzz to an electric Miata
The hot hatch is a car enthusiast’s car. Neither garage tinkerer nor street racer can resist a practical hatchback stuffed with enough power to push your brains back into the headrest and handling to outdrive cars that cost twice as much. At last, the category’s standard-bearer, the Volkswagen GTI, is drifting into its electrified future. VW has revealed the ID.GTI Concept, a preview of the fully battery-powered GTI to come a few years down the line.
With the GTI EV en route, we can cross off the hot hatch as a car category without an electric champion. The arrival of the Rivian R1T and Ford F-150 Lightning have put full battery-powered pickups into America’s hypercompetitive truck market. Yet even as automakers turn over their lineups to include more and more EV versions of the gas cars they’ve always built, there are still glaring holes — car categories where nary an EV has arisen, and models that demand to become an EV. Here are some electrics on its way, and some that should be.
We Know They’re Coming
1. Rivian R2
The Rivian R1T is a dream machine, every bit the shimmering, LED-laden pickup truck of the future that lots of people expected from Elon Musk before he revealed, well, something else. The truck’s R1S counterpart packages the same guts into an SUV form that’s more practical for some. But both come with an aspirational price to go with their aspirational design. The starting prices near $70,000 leave lots of Rivian fans out in the cold, waiting for the company to debut an offering within reach.
The EV startup’s R2 platform aims to support a smaller and less expensive, but still rugged and capable, pickup truck and SUV. In an interview with Heatmap earlier this year, Rivian CEO R.J. Scaringe said the company wants to roll out the new vehicles in 2026 at a price of $40,000 to $45,000.
2. Fully Electrified Jeep Wrangler
Other 4x4s can pose on a boulder or traverse a trail that’s turned to muck, but none have the old-time military looks and mechanics that make the Wrangler iconic. Updating a legend is always tricky. In 2021, Jeep went halfway to electrifying the Wrangler, creating the 4xe plug-in hybrid that Car & Driverderided as a “science fair project.”
This time around, no half-measures. For the 2024 model year, Jeep is slated to release a true Wrangler EV for the enthusiast who seeks an emissions-free way to terrorize the environment. In truth, lots of people who occasionally — or never — drive off-road own a Wrangler because, simply, they fell in love with it. Transforming the One True Jeep into an EV will make bombing around the urban jungle a little easier on the wallet as well as the atmosphere.
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3. Volkswagen ID.Buzz
VW struck a countercultural nerve when, in 2017, it unveiled the concept of an electrified VW Microbus and made flower power aspirants everywhere say, “shut up and take my money.” This, of course, is not your grandmother’s hippie wagon. To bring the bus into the 21st century VW ditched the underdog, fix-it-yourself ethos of the original for a whiz-bang software-controlled EV that costs north of $40,000. But damn if it isn’t cute.
ID.Buzz recently made its American debut, and is finally going on sale in the U.S. as a 2025 model. What the world needs now is Buzz, sweet Buzz — read Heatmap’s coverage for more.
4. Fiat 500e
We need a fun little EV. The original Fiat 500e tried to deliver on that by putting a battery in the beloved city car, but that electrified taste of Italy could barely top 80 miles of range and was discontinued a few years back.
The newer, better version currently driving around the roads of Europe is coming to America in 2024 and should be able to offer twice as many miles per charge, at around 160. That pales in comparison to the numbers that new big EVs can deliver (hey, you can only cram so much battery into a microcar). But if you’re an urban dweller with an eye for style, it’s enough to get by.
5. Corvette EV
Wait long enough and lots of iconic performance cars — the Alfa Romeo Giulia, the Dodge Charger Daytona — will go electric. Not just to keep with the times, but also to take advantage of the instantaneous torque available from an electric motor that makes EVs zip off the line. In terms of hype, though, it’s still the Corvette that matters most.
The launch of every new Corvette is, well, a whole to-do. That’s doubly true now, because a Corvette EV is coming perhaps as soon as 2025 and may produce ridiculous power numbers. In addition, it may bring with it an entire sub-brand of Corvette-branded cars that don’t say “Chevy” anywhere, including a spicy crossover SUV.
They’re Probably Coming
Nobody can be told what Canoo is. You have to see the EV startup’s very rounded concept truck and van — which look like police vehicles mocked up for an episode of Black Mirror — for yourself.
The future pod of a van, called the Canoo Lifestyle Vehicle, bucks convention as often as possible. On the outside, its styling is like nothing else. On the inside, for example, its seating can be shifted so occupants face one another or move to make a ton of empty floor space.
Amid a sea of vehicles that all look the same, the Canoo’s over-the-top quirkiness earned plenty of early devotees and aspirant buyers. Whether they’ll actually get to part with their cash in exchange for the vehicles is another matter entirely: Canoo has endured corporate restructuring and, while it has managed to produce a few vehicles for clients such as NASA, it is always close to running out of money before it gets around to selling cars to people.
7. Tesla Model 2?
Once upon a time, $35,000 was the magic number — the mark Tesla would hit with its unicorn affordable EV that became the Model 3. While few people navigated the hurdles necessary to actually get one that cheap, the entry-level Model 3s like mine got close.
Now the whispers conjure a $25,000 Tesla, one that would truly put EVs in line with the most affordable gas-burning vehicles. CEO Elon Musk teased the possibility in 2020 and pegged the promised price to the possibility of slashing battery production costs.
Tesla famously enjoys the whooshing sound deadlines make as they fly by, so the $25k model may be several years away — especially since we have no idea what it would look like. But if Musk and company roll out a compact sedan or hatchback with 250 miles of range at anything close to that price, Tesla may not be able to keep them in stock.
8. Chrysler Pacifica EV
Let me tell you the car journalist’s mantra: Actually, minivans are good. When I was an editor at Popular Mechanics, the test-drivers would race to the defense of the minivan: Unlike the high-riding crossover that replaced it as this century’s de facto kid-mover, the minivan rides lower to the ground like a car, and those iconic sliding doors and removable seats make it easy to load and unload stuff.
Nevertheless, the SUV has left the much-maligned minivan in the dust. The people’s champion for electrified minivan drivers has been the Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrid, which delivers just 32 miles of electric-only range but is the only PHEV vehicle in its class. The good news for minivan loyalists: Chrysler is committed to electrifying its lineup, which means a full EV Pacifica is probably in the works.
(The ID.Buzz and Canoo are, arguably, modern reinventions of the form, but they feel so far removed from the archetype of the American minivan as to be in their own category.)
9. A Zoom-Zoom Electric Miata
Let me now tell you the car journalist’s other mantra: Actually, the Miata is good. Like the minivan, the Miata was slandered by ‘90s popular culture as too wimpy, too effeminate. Just like the Minivan, the Miata is actually delightful to drive and beloved by the people who test vehicles for a living.
Mazda hit a home run with the excellent current Miata, which it has been making since 2015. But the brand has been among the slowest to adopt electric powertrains, so a true Miata EV (unless you have the engineering chops to convert one to battery power) remains many years away. The next Miata will be “electrified,” but to what extent — whether this means a hybrid or a true EV — is unknown.
10. A Perfectly Good Little EV Truck
Once represented by classic vehicles like the Ford Ranger and Chevy S-10, America’s small truck market grew critically endangered when pickups became super-luxury vehicles that can cost north of $50,000. Ford struck a blow for the reasonably-sized utilitarian truck when it introduced the Maverick to slot into its lineup below the Ranger (which has grown to mid-size in the intervening years) and promptly sold a ton of the little trucks.
No battery-powered small pickup has yet come along, but when it does, the Maverick Lightning, Ranger Lightning, or whatever it is will find a horde of happy buyers.
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