Welcome to the Electric Age

The Rivian R1T.

In a little less than a decade, the electric vehicle has gone from novelty act to main event.

When the battery-powered Nissan Leaf arrived in 2011, the hatchback’s thoroughly modern road manners made it something of a revelation to car buyers. For a public whose notions of electric mobility didn’t extend too far beyond the lowly golf cart, this new Nissan was anything but. Unfortunately, limited real-world charging options and the Leaf’s modest cruising range — often less than 100 miles on a full charge — hampered its success, relegating it to second- or third-car status. These EV jitters soon had a name: range anxiety. Having a car that needed an hours-long recharge every hundred miles gave buyers pause.

In 2012, the remarkable Tesla Model S — and Tesla’s similarly remarkable Supercharger network — changed that. The car defined new levels of luxury, performance, and range — and the company’s (then free) network of proprietary charging stations allowed Tesla owners’ road-trip options to expand exponentially. At last, the electric car was a viable option as a household’s primary vehicle. In the years since, EV buyers have seen a huge array of new vehicles – from major players like Audi, Porsche, and Ford — and an expanded and ever-growing network of public charging stations, not to mention clever options for juicing up their cars in their own driveways. And the industry is just getting started.

Herewith, a hand-picked eight (of many) new electric vehicles, some reaching the showroom within a year, others already there, but each one revolutionary in its own way.

For the urbanite…
Volvo C40 Recharge

Volvo C40 Recharge

On the heels of its well-received XC40 Recharge – a pure-electric version of the popular XC40 compact SUV — Volvo is preparing a smart follow-up, the thoroughly modern C40 Recharge. Two electric motors make a combined 402 horsepower, and a 75-kWh battery pack provides a 210-mile range. When it arrives early in 2022 priced at $59,845, the crossover will come one way: fully loaded, with an impressive Google-powered infotainment system, Harman/Kardon audio system, a huge panoramic sunroof, and all-wheel drive. Deliveries commence early next year, but Volvo is taking orders now — only via its website.

On Sale: Early 2022

For the impresario…
Mercedes-Benz EQS

The “S” in “EQS” isn’t just for show. The debut offering from Mercedes-Benz’s electric-focused EQ spinoff brand is very much the S-class of electric cars, endowed with everything that’s made the model a flagship since the revered W116 debuted in 1972 — minus the gas-guzzling engine. The big electric sedan, whose 0.201 drag coefficient makes it the world’s most aerodynamic production car, arrives in 329- and 516-horsepower versions, with rear- or all-wheel drive, and a cruising range comfortably in excess of 400 miles. It’s on sale now, priced between $102, 310 and $125,310.

On Sale: Now

For the speed demon…
Tesla Roadster

If Elon Musk’s claims are to be believed, Tesla’s slippery new Roadster will exist in a performance realm all its own when it arrives next year. The outspoken billionaire promises that his $200,000 coupe will zap from zero to 60 mph in a hard-to-imagine 1.9 seconds, cover the quarter mile in 8.8 seconds, and cruise on to a top speed close to 250 mph. Musk is also claiming the car will seat four comfortably and be good for 620 miles on a charge — about half what a typical electric vehicle currently achieves.

On Sale: 2022

For the hedonist…
Lucid Air

Long, wide, and oh-so-low, the grand debut sedan from this ambitious startup makes — and keeps — some very big promises, including as much as 1,111 horsepower and a cruising range as far as 520 miles, figures that eclipse all rivals, electric or fossil-fuel-powered. The car — which is built in Lucid’s brand-new factory just south of Scottsdale, Arizona, is awash in fine materials and showstopping features, like an available all-glass canopy. The base Air (which still boasts 620 horsepower and a 402-mile range) starts at $95,000 and the world-beating Dream Edition rolls for a cool $169,000.

On Sale: Now

For the California dreamer…
Fisker Ocean

A clean-sheet design from automotive stylist Henrik Fisker, whose credits include BMW’s Z8 and Aston Martin’s DB9, the handsome Ocean crossover will debut with a raft of clever tech, including a battery-charging solar roof, and deliver a respectable 300-mile range with all-wheel drive. And California? The Ocean’s so Cali it comes with a button that engages California mode, dropping all the windows — including the glass in the rear hatch — at the touch of a button. Fisker promises the electric SUV will start at about $38,000, with top models pushing the $70,000 mark.

On Sale: Late 2022

For the weekend warrior…
Rivian R1T

With its R1T, startup Rivian has reinvented something nobody imagined could be reinvented: the American pickup. Remarkably handsome, the electric R1T nonetheless hides its most impressive parts under the skin. All-wheel drive is standard, and the bigger of two battery options will keep things moving for more than 400 miles. It’ll ford three feet of water and crawl up a 100-percent grade. It’ll tow 11,000 pounds, too, and sprint to 60 mph in three seconds. It’s on sale now, starting at $67,500 — and next year, Rivian’s similarly heroic R1S arrives to reinvent the luxury SUV.

On Sale: Now

For the outdoorsy type…
Bolliger B1

Don’t be misled by the toy-truck looks of this Michigan-based startup’s debut offering: The Bolliger B1 is all business. The burly utility vehicle and its stablemate, the B2 pickup, may be the true spiritual successors of Land Rover’s old-school Defender. The B1 can haul an impressive 5,000 pounds and bound across challenging terrain with 15 inches of clearance and a stout electric powertrain that delivers 614 horsepower and 668 pound-feet of torque. Pricing for the B1 starts at $125,000, but clever options — including a six-panel glass roof — will be tough to resist.

On Sale: 2022

For the golfer…
Cadillac Lyriq

Few upcoming electric vehicles seem better positioned to impress the clubhouse valet than Cadillac’s glam Lyriq. The luxury brand’s EV crossover promises to deliver a cruising range in excess of 300 miles and immerse its occupants in tailored luxury and cutting-edge tech, led by a dramatic 33-inch-long curved display with a user interface created by a pair of digital design houses whose resumes include futuristic computer systems in movies like Guardians of the Galaxy and video games like Cyberpunk 2077. Expect the Lyriq to start at $60,000, with the top trim pushing $90,000.

On Sale: 2022

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