The motor industry is to face more change this decade than in its last century, as bans on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars arrive by 2025 in Norway, followed in 2030 by the UK, Denmark, Germany, India and Sweden.
For the UK ban specifically, the government has said all new vehicles sold from 2030 onwards must be hybrid or fully electric. The sale of new hybrids is to be outlawed from 2035.
Nine years isn’t very long for the car industry, an historically slow-moving beast that plans new models years in advance and retains engine designs for decades. Arguably kick-started by Tesla eight years ago, the shift to electricity has picked up pace in the last couple of years, and for 2021 that trend will continue.
Dozens of new electric cars are expected from almost all mainstream manufacturers, and for almost every budget. Here is a look ahead at the new electric cars we will be excited to see in 2021.
Audi e-Tron GT
The rival the Porsche Taycan, the e-tron GT will be an electric sports saloon, Audi’s second battery-powered car (after the e-tron SUV) and, crucially, the brand's unofficial flagship vehicle. A total of 582bhp will be sent to all four wheels, resulting in a supercar-baiting 0-62 mph time of 3.5 seconds.
The Audi’s 90kWh battery pack will achieve a range of 248.5 miles using the WLTP standard, and with its big battery pack slung low into the floor, the e-tron GT’s handling should be up there with its Porsche Taycan cousin. Also shared with the Porsche will be a rapid 350kW charging system for industry-leading battery top-up times (if you can find the right charger).
Audi Q4 e-Tron
Also coming from Audi in 2021 will be Audi's Q4 e-tron, a medium-sized electric SUV using the same MEB platform as other members of the Volkswagen Group and fitting in just below the existing Q5.
Dual motors will send a maximum output of 225kWh to the car’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system, meaning a claimed 0-62mph time of 6.3 seconds. Audi says the car’s 82kWh battery pack, occupying the floor of the car, will be good for a range of over 280 miles using the WLTP standard.
Shown off as a concept at the 2019 Geneva motor show, the Q4 e-tron will be revealed in production form in 2021, and it’ll be followed in 2022 by a coupe version likely called the Q4 Sportback e-tron.
As you may well have deduced, the iX3 is an electric version of the current BMW X3, a mid-size SUV that is the company’s best-selling vehicle. To sit alongside petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid versions of the X3, the iX3 uses the same body, chassis and interior as the rest of the range.
Below the floor sits an 80kWh battery providing a WLTP-certified range of 285 miles. This sends power to a single, 282bhp motor driving the rear wheels, meaning there is no AWD option; this is strictly an on-road SUV.
Mercifully better looking than the BMW iX (below), the iX3 is available to pre-order in Premiere guise for £58,850, with the first UK deliveries arriving in the summer.
The production version of BMW’s iNext concept raised eyebrows when it was revealed in November, and not necessarily for the right reasons. Challenging looks of its “monolithic presence” aside, the car is a family SUV with all-wheel-drive from a pair of electric motors, over 500 horsepower and a 0-62mph time of under five seconds.
The smart interior features a pair of large digital displays, elegantly illuminated touch controls and an hexagonal steering wheel. We suspect some of the concept-car details might be dialled down ahead of the car going on sale in late 2021, but as a signal of electric intent for BMW, it’s certainly a bold one.
Also expected from BMW in 2021 is the i4, which was shown off in concept form in early 2020. Essentially an electric version of the 4-series, the i4 is expected to be a big seller for BMW as its electrification mission shifts from the fringes with the i3 and i8, to the mainstream.
BMW has quoted a range of up to 372 miles for the i4, which is the only stat we have for now. We expect the car to have a futuristic interior similar to that of the iX.
Expected in early 2021, the first electric incarnation of the Citroen C4 will share the same modular CMP electric platform, developed by the PSA Group (Peugeot, Citroen, Vauxhall) and also used by the Vauxhall Corsa-e. The Citroen will be fitted with a 50kWh battery pack sending 134bhp to the front wheels and offering a range of up to 217 miles.
Sharing the same platform as the Volkswagen ID.3, the Cupra El-Born gets to call itself the first electric hot hatch. Spun out of SEAT, Cupra is now its own electric brand with a focus on performance. The Cupra El-Born has an 82kWh battery pack (of which 77kWh is usable), a claimed range of 310 miles, and a fast-changing system capable of adding 161 miles in 30 minutes.
There’s no 0-62mph time just yet, but instead Cupra has announced a 0-31mph time of 2.9 seconds and a sporty driving character to match the interior’s deep bucket seats. A lesser model with a 62kWh battery will also be offered, promising a range of 261 miles.
Ford Mustang Mach-E
Ford caused a stir in late-2019 when it gave the Mustang name to its first electric car – and an electric SUV at that. But the Mach-E’s styling certainly has an air of the famous pony car about it, and the range-topping GT model’s 459bhp isn’t to be sniffed at. Battery options are 75kWH and 99kWh, with the latter promising a WLTP range of 370 miles.
The interior features the first incarnation of Ford’s all-new infotainment system, centred around a huge portrait touchscreen like that from a Tesla Model S, joined by a second digital screen behind the wheel. Prices start at £40,350 for 280 miles of range and the Mach-E can be pre-ordered now.
Based on the existing UX compact crossover, the UX300e will be Lexus’s first all-electric car when it arrives in the spring of 2021. The car will have a 54.3kWh battery pack sending power to a single motor mounted under the bonnet and delivering a range of 196 miles.
Priced from £43,900, the Lexus UX300e can be charged from five to 80 per cent in 50 minutes using a DC charger, and the battery comes with an eight year or 100,000-mile warranty. Tech includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus a smartphone app for remotely heating or cooling the cabin – an increasingly common feature among electric cars.
Delayed from 2020 to 2021 due to the pandemic, the Mercedes EQA is an electric crossover designed to compete with the Volkswagen ID.3 hatchback. It will be based on the existing second-generation Mercedes GLA and offered in single- and dual-motor configurations.
The car will be an evolution of the Concept EQA, which Mercedes says has a range of almost 250 miles and a 0-62mph time of approximately five seconds, but being a concept car these numbers should be taken with a pinch of salt for now.
Following the ECQ luxury SUV and EQV minivan, the EQA will be the first truly mass-market electric car from Mercedes, and as such the vehicle that will set the tone for the company’s continued electrification.
Due in the UK towards the end of 2021, the EQS will likely be touted as the S-Class of electric cars. Big, luxurious, packed full of technology and no doubt offering a more premium alternative to the Tesla Model S, with its price and performance a rival to the Porsche Taycan.
AMG, the high-performance division of Mercedes best known for its petrol V8s, is expected to turn its hand to a souped-up version of the EQS in 2022.
The second offering from Volvo's performance sibling became our favourite electric car of 2020. And with good reason. For less than £50,000, the Polestar 2 costs more than the Model 3. But it outshone Musk's rival with a 78kWh battery pack and electric motors on both axles for more than 400bhp split equally between front and rear. The result was 0-62mph in 4.7 seconds and a top speed of 127mph. At our review drive, Polestar confirmed that coming in 2021 were cheaper versions of the Polestar 2 likely with smaller battery and single motor options.
Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo
Porsche will give its Taycan electric car the Cross Turismo estate treatment in 2021, elongating the roofline and providing more boot space.
Delayed due to the pandemic, the Taycan Cross Turismo will share the same powertrain options as the regular Taycan, meaning 532bhp in entry-level 4S guise, with more potent Turbo and Turbo S models to follow, the latter with 751bhp, all-wheel-drive and no doubt a stomach-churning 0-60 time.
Inside, the saloon’s interior will be transplanted wholesale, complete with its three dashboard touchscreens, curved digital instrument binnacle, and optional screen for rear passenger climate control.
Skoda Enyaq iV
Skoda’s first electric car, the circa-£30,000 Enyaq uses Volkswagen’s MEB platform and is the first from the VW-owned Czech company to do so. To sit between the Octavia saloon and Kodiaq seven-seater, the Enyaq will be offered with several motor and battery options, with up to 316 miles of range.
A performance-orientated vRS model is to have 302 bhp and promises a 0-62mph time of 6.2 seconds. Given Skoda’s excellent form of late, especially with the current Octavia, the Enyaq could tick a lot of boxes for buyers after a family-friendly EV.
Tesla Model S Plaid
Rumors of a facelifted Model S are gathering pace, but before they become a reality Tesla has set its sights on an ultra-high performance variant of the current car. Due in late-2021 (before Tesla’s usual delays are taken into account), the Model S Plaid is said to have a power output of over 1,100bhp from three electric motors, a 0-60mph time of under two seconds, a top speed of 200 mph and a range of over 520 miles.
All of these stats are off the scale, even for Tesla’s most potent models to date, and the company is promising its five-seat family saloon will clock the quickest quarter-mile time of any production car ever made. It will likely be priced just below the Porsche Taycan Turbo.
Tesla Model Y
Sticking with Tesla, and dialling things down somewhat, we expect to see the Model Y arrive in the UK in 2021. Already available in the US, the Model Y is essentially a taller and slightly larger version of the best-selling Model 3. Elon Musk predicted at its launch back in 2019 that it would be the company’s best-selling car, and given the world’s love affair with compact crossovers and small SUVs, he’s probably right.
The Model Y offers a range of up to 314 miles from its dual-motor, all-wheel-drive powertrain, an optional third row for a seven-seat configuration, a 15-inch touchscreen like that of the Model 3, and a 0-60mph time of 3.5 seconds for the Performance edition.
Lastly from Tesla, barring any surprises anyway, is the second-generation Roadster. Revealed all the way back in 2017, the Roadster was due to arrive in 2020 but has been pushed back by at least a year. The 2+2 supercar with a removable roof panel is claimed by Tesla to have a range of 620 miles thanks to a huge (and no doubt heavy) 200kWh battery pack.
Despite the hefty battery, the Roadster is also claimed to have a 0-60mph time of 1.9 seconds and a top speed of 250mph. Musk said in 2018 how the car, to cost $250,000, would be offered with a “SpaceX option package” that includes a set of 10,000psi thrusters to improve performance, although this technology hasn’t yet been shown publicly.
Volkswagen’s second mass-market EV, and its first to arrive in the US and China, the ID.4 sits on the same MEB platform as the smaller ID.3 and will be offered with a range of powertrain configurations, including battery sizes of 52kWh and 77kWh, with the latter offering up to 310 miles of range.
The minimalist cabin features a pair of digital displays, with the central touch screen measuring 12 inches from corner to corner VW hasn’t announced UK pricing yet, but it is expected to start at around £41,000 after the government’s £3,000 grant.
Volvo XC40 Recharge
The XC40 Recharge is the first all-electric car to come from Volvo, sharing many of its components and drivetrain with the Polestar 2, which is also produced by Chinese automotive giant Geely. That Polestar platform should mean 300kW (402bhp) and a range of 248 miles for the circa-£50,000 Volvo.
Following the XC40 Recharge will be electrified versions of its other SUVs, including the range-topping XC90. We can expect these to be electrified face-lifts for now, rather than all-new vehicles from Volvo.
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