Electric Vehicle Rundown: What’s Available and Coming to Washington

Electric Vehicle Rundown: What’s Available and Coming to Washington

 

Now that 2016 is upon us, it’s time to get excited for a new wave of electric vehicles (EVs) hitting the market in Washington! As one of the stronger EV markets in the country, several manufacturers release their EV offerings here before many other states.

Before diving right in, there’s an important distinction to make when comparing and assessing EVs. There are two different kinds of EVs: Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) and Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles (PHEV). BEVs, such as the Nissan Leaf, run solely on electricity and have an electric motor instead of a gasoline engine. On the other hand PHEVs, such as the Chevy Volt, run on battery power for a period of time before switching to run on gasoline.

Battery storage technology is rapidly evolving, and this year’s Nissan Leaf exemplifies the exciting developments within the market. The 2016 SV and SL Leafs boast a 27 percent increase in battery storage, up to an EPA-estimated 108 miles on a single charge, all without raising prices! The Leaf has three models: the base model Leaf S as well as SV and SL models, which include some additional features such as fog lights, quick charge ports, and increased range. There’s already buzz around the 2017 model too, which is expected to have a range over 150 miles. The Nissan Leaf is poised to continue to lead the way as the best-selling BEV on the market.

Chevy is set to release its 2017 model Volt in Washington this spring. The 2017 model is the second generation of Chevrolet’s iconic plug-in hybrid. The new model has more range, a more fuel-efficient gasoline motor, and more passenger space than the original car. With the 2017 model boasting a 50-mile all-electric range, Chevy expects up to 90% of its customers’ miles to be gasoline-free.

 

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Second-generation Chevy Volt (image from Chevrolet)
 

Although it’s not expected to hit the market until late 2016 at the earliest, the Chevy Bolt is perhaps the most anticipated BEV of the year. The production version of the Bolt was unveiled in January 2016 at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The Bolt is a hatchback with a sleek look similar to BMW’s i3.Chevrolet announced that the Bolt will have an astonishing all-electric range of over 200 miles, which would shatter records for electric range for EVs (other than Teslas). With an expected price of $37,000 before government incentives, the Bolt will be affordable for many who cannot afford the high price of a Tesla.

Chevy Bolt concept form (image from Chevrolet)
 

Need extra range from a battery electric car right now? The 2016 Kia Soul EV is available in Washington and Oregon, as well as in several states along the east coast. The Soul EV has an excellent 92-mile range (US EPA) and can be charged in as little as 25 minutes using a CHAdeMO DC Fast Charger. The Soul EV can also recharge in four hours using a high-capacity L2 charger.

Perhaps the most iconic of all BEV vehicle manufacturers, Tesla currently offers two models, the Model S and Model X. The Model S is a luxury sedan with a robust electric range between 240 and 265 miles, based on the variant. Each variant resembles the battery pack specs. For example, the S60 has a 60 kWh battery; the S85 has an 85 kWh battery, and so on.

 

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2016 Tesla Model X, featuring double-hinged falcon doors (image from Tesla)

 

New to the market in late 2015 is the Model X, a full-size crossover sports-utility vehicle. Similar to the Model S, the Model X has two choices in battery packs, rated at 70 kWh or 90 kWh. This results in a 257-mile range. EVs have a reputation for poor acceleration; however Tesla has bucked this trend. The P90D model goes from 0-60 mph in just 3.2 seconds! Beyond the battery life associated with Tesla vehicles, the Model X is also revered for its sleek double-hinged falcon doors. Tesla continues to pave the way for battery storage and luxury in the EV market.

In addition to the vehicles above, there are various other EVs available in Washington:

  • BMW i3: BEV with an all-electric range of 81 miles (U.S. EPA estimate), winner of the 2014 Green Car of the Year Award. BMW also uses carbon fiber from Moses Lake, Washington, in its production.
  • Ford Focus Electric: Rated the most fuel-efficient vehicle sold in the US in 2012. Arguably the most cost-effective BEV on the market, with a cost of just under $30,000 MSRP before incentives.
  • Mitsubishi i-MiEV: The only BEV more affordable than the Ford Focus, the i-MiEV has a low MSRP of $22,995 before incentives. The i-MiEV has a 62-mile range (EPA), and the option to add a 7-inch navigation system.
  • Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV: Set to arrive in the US sometime in 2016 after four very successful years in European and Japanese markets. The Outlander has sold over 85,000 units worldwide to date, ranking it as the world’s fourth-most popular plug-in EV.
  • Audi A3 e-Tron: New in 2016 is Audi’s first plug-in vehicle for North America. Although it only has battery capacity for 14 miles of all-electric driving, this car is a sporty and luxurious way to go the distance between fill-ups.
  • Ford C-Max Energi: Want a PHEV with a more upright seating position and a large back seat? Check out this plug-in variant on Ford’s popular C-Max hybrid.

There’s no time like the present to buy an EV! The federal government currently offers a tax credit of $7,500 toward the purchase of an electric vehicle. Plus EVs under $35,000 are exempt from sales tax in Washington State.

There is also a tax credit in Washington for businesses that purchase new alternative fuel commercial vehicles. The tax credit’s bill defines “commercial vehicles” as any vehicle that is purchased by a private business and is used exclusively in the transportation of commodities, merchandise, produce, refuse, freight, or animals. This tax credit covers 50% of the incremental cost per vehicle, with tax credits capped based on gross vehicle weight rating. For more information on this tax credit, let us know.

With all of these offerings and others on the horizon, the U.S. market for electric vehicles is obviously growing. Still wondering which EV is right for your personal transportation needs? Or are you curious if EVs are a smart move for your fleet? Contact us by phone or email today for more information!

Information and images courtesy of 2016 Electric Cars, Green Car Reports, Drive Clean CA, and the Alternative Fuels Data Center.