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California-based Lucid Motors is set to unveil a luxury electric sedan with a six-figure price tag and an astonishing 517-mile range, enough to dust the current leader by more than 100 miles per charge. When the new Lucid does enter the market, it — like all other EVs — will do so in direct competition with the brand that currently defines the industry: Tesla.
Elon Musk’s company has established itself as the gold standard of electric vehicles and, in a way, American automotive innovation in general. Its cars are luxurious, its business model is disruptive and its technology is otherworldly. Still, Teslas are not for everyone, and other fully electric vehicles on the market are giving Musk a run for his money. Readers might notice that a handful of EVs didn’t make the list, most notably, the Fiat 500e. That’s because its 84-mile range simply isn’t comparable to any Tesla, despite its $33,460 starting MSRP. The rest, however, have positioned themselves as legitimate competitors, although it’s sometimes challenging to make a head-to-head comparison when it comes to cars.
Last updated: Sept. 15, 2020
<h2>The Tesla Models</h2>The Model S is Tesla’s flagship premium sedan, which has been disrupting the auto industry since its debut in 2012. There are two options. The Long Range Plus costs $74,990 before savings and offers an eye-popping range of 402 miles and a top speed of 155 mph. The Performance model drops to a still-incredible 348-mile range but lifts the top speed to 163 mph with a zero-to-60 acceleration of 2.3 seconds. The Performance option costs $94,990 before savings.
In 2016, Tesla began offering the Model 3 four-door as a more affordable alternative to the Model S. The rear-wheel-drive Standard Range Plus costs $37,990 and delivers 250 miles on a single charge. The dual-motor all-wheel-drive Long Range and Performance options cost $46,990 and $54,990 and are good for 322 miles and 299 miles, respectively.
Tesla’s answer to the full-size SUV segment is the Model X, which seats seven and boasts a five-star safety rating. The Long Range Plus, which starts at $79,990, has a range of 351 miles and can hit 155 mph on the open road. The Performance model, which costs $99,990, can go for 305 miles, fly from zero to 60 in 2.6 seconds and reach a top speed of 163 mph. The standout feature is the Delorean-esque rear gullwing vertically opening “Falcon” doors. Since every other SUV on this list tops out at five passengers, none were compared directly to the large Model X, although a few luxury electric crossovers certainly match up in terms of price.
The Model Y falls between the Model 3 and the Model X. Although seating for seven is available with an optional third row, it’s a smaller, more compact cargo-carrying SUV. It starts at $49,990 for the 316-mile Long Range and $59,990 for the Performance, which has a higher top speed and a range of 291 miles.
Base price: $65,900
Combined fuel economy: 74 mpg
Combined range: 204 miles
<h2>1. Audi e-tron</h2><ul>
The Audi e-tron is a luxury crossover that seats five, and it represents the automaker’s first foray into the world of fully electric vehicles. The Premium Plus trim costs more and includes more goodies, but even the entry-level model comes standard with a huge list of features, including heated and ventilated seats, adaptive air suspension, four-zone automated climate control, a full suite of driver-assist features and much, much more.
Base price: $29,900
Combined fuel economy: 108 mpg
Combined range: 110 miles
<h2>How the Tesla Model Y Compares</h2>The Audi e-tron is not cheap compared to the Tesla Model Y — in fact, its MSRP is closer to that of the bigger, swankier Model X — but for a small SUV that seats five, it’s packed with all the luxury you’d expect from an Audi. The Model Y will get you farther on a single charge, but the e-tron has been hailed for its incredibly fast charging. Just 10 minutes at a high-speed public charger will get you 54 miles of range.
<h2>2. Mini Electric</h2><ul>
The two-door hardtop that is the Mini Electric is truly the everyman’s EV. In terms of both looks and driveability, it’s a classic Mini Cooper all the way — fun, sporty and ultimately parkable and practical. An exciting car with a perfectly acceptable 181 horsepower and a zero-to-60 acceleration in just 6.9 seconds, the Mini Electric’s range is undoubtedly limiting, but the Mini’s battery can charge to 80% in 36 minutes on a public DC fast charger. Even without, Mini Electric includes a TurboCord accessory that can charge to full in eight hours through a regular outlet.
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Base price: $69,850
Combined fuel economy: 76 mpg
Combined range: 234 miles
<h2>How the Tesla Model 3 Compares</h2>A range of 110 miles is nothing to brag about, but a sub-$30,000 starting MSRP is — this Mini is the cheapest EV on the road. The Tesla Model 3 owns the Mini on range, but for many commuters and other daily drivers, range isn’t everything. Called a “fun-to-drive bargain” by Car and Driver, the Mini Electric is light, it’s got pep and good handling, and it delivers more cargo room than you’d expect in such a tight package.
<h2>3. Jaguar I-Pace</h2><ul>
Like Audi, Jaguar’s first dip into the EV waters came in the form of a luxury crossover SUV that seats five — the Jaguar I-Pace. It, like the Audi, is priced closer to the larger Tesla Model X, but also like Audi, it delivers on the luxury synonymous with its name. Its atmosphere-slicing lines look like no other SUV on the road, its posh and tech-packed interior offers plenty of room, and its 394 horses can launch drivers from zero to 60 in 4.5 seconds.
Base price: $31,600
Combined fuel economy: 111 mpg
Combined range: 149 miles
<h2>How the Tesla Model Y Compares</h2>The similarly sized but much cheaper Tesla Model Y has a longer range, but it can’t match the I-Pace’s acceleration from a standstill — at least not on the Long Range option. Both have all-wheel drive, futuristic suspensions and an impressive array of utility, driver-assist, comfort, control and response features. Only one, however, bears the status symbol that is the Jaguar nameplate.
<h2>4. Nissan Leaf</h2><ul>
The Leaf comes in just a little above the Mini Electric in terms of sticker price, but it’s got its Mini counterpart — and many other EVs — beat by a mile in sales. It’s not just affordable, but it’s simple to drive despite being packed with features — and it’s backed by an excellent warranty and service package.
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Base price: $39,090
Combined fuel economy: 112 mpg
Combined range: 239 miles
<h2>How the Tesla Model 3 Compares</h2>For those who want to compete with the Tesla Model 3 in terms of both cost and performance, the comparably priced Nissan Leaf Plus boasts 214 horsepower and a range of 226 miles thanks to a 62 kWh battery, compared to 40 for the standard package. You can charge up to 80% in 40 or 60 minutes on the smaller and larger batteries, respectively, but it’s tough to compete with Tesla’s 15-minute, 172-mile charge.
<h2>5. Kia Niro EV</h2><ul>
Right in the middle of the options is the Kia Niro EV, which is neither the most expensive nor the cheapest EV in its class — and that dynamic is reflected in its well-rounded functionality. An attractively styled vehicle, the Niro EV has an impressive range and an equally impressive 201 horsepower. It comes standard with a solid menu of premium features, including DC fast-charge capabilities.
Base price: $44,450
Combined fuel economy: 113 mpg
Combined range: 153 miles
<h2>How the Tesla Model Y Compares</h2>Since it seats five, the Kia Niro EV is most directly comparable to the Model Y — and it’s $10,000 cheaper than Tesla’s compact crossover. Tesla tops it on range, no doubt, but 239 miles between charges is nothing to scoff at. The Premium trim level comes with a variety of upgrades that give Tesla a run for its money, including a standard sunroof and larger infotainment system.
<h2>6. BMW i3</h2><ul>
The BMW i3 is the priciest short-range EV on the road. For BMW purists, however, that comes with an unwritten guarantee that it will be meticulously engineered and crafted with high-quality materials — and in that department, at least, it doesn’t disappoint. Luxurious, roomy and technologically advanced, it comes with the benefit of a hatchback with plenty of cargo space.
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Base price: $36,620
Combined fuel economy: 118 mpg
Combined range: 259 miles
<h2>How the Tesla Model 3 Compares</h2>Although it’s a hatchback, the BMW i3 is a four-seater that compares most neatly with the Model 3, although in terms of the big things like range, acceleration and horsepower, Tesla runs the board. The i3 does, however, offer the benefit of a light, strong carbon fiber chassis, which is almost unheard of in its class of EVs. Also, the i3, which is billed as a top city car, doesn’t look like any other car on the road — its peculiar design continues to turn heads.
<h2>7. Chevrolet Bolt EV</h2><ul>
The Chevy Bolt was the first practical EV to take a real run at the Tesla lineup — and quite a run it’s been. Its range is at the tippy-top of the non-Tesla EV market, its 200 horses are more than enough, and it earns an NHTSA 5-Star Overall Vehicle Score. It also comes packed with tech and driver-assist features, including a big, 10.2-inch color touchscreen display.
Base price: $37,190
Combined fuel economy: 120 mpg
Combined range: 258 miles
<h2>How the Tesla Model 3 Compares</h2>Like the BMW i3, the Bolt EV competes with the Model 3, but it does so with a lower price tag. It’s one of only two electric vehicles to beat out the 250-mile range of the Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus. When the back seats are folded down, it boasts 56.6 cubic feet of cargo room, compared to 15 for the Model 3.
<h2>8. Hyundai Kona Electric</h2><ul>
Like the Chevy Bolt, the similarly priced Hyundai Kona Electric represents the pinnacle of range for EVs that aren’t made by Tesla. Also like the Bolt, it packs an impressive 201 horsepower. It comes with a nice selection of standard premium features, such as forward collision-avoidance assistance and blind-spot collision warning, but unlike with Tesla, Hyundai drivers can upgrade to the next trim package for less than $4,000 extra.
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Base price: $33,045
Combined fuel economy: 133 mpg
Combined range: 170 miles
<h2>How the Tesla Model Y Compares</h2>The Kona Electric seats five, just like the Tesla Model Y, but it costs nearly $13,000 less. It can’t match the Model Y’s 316-mile range, but it certainly comes close for the money. Likewise, its 45.8 cubic feet of cargo space (with seats folded) doesn’t exactly match the Model Y’s 68, but considering the difference in price, it more than justifies a look at the Kona for anyone considering a Tesla.
<h2>9. Hyundai Ioniq Electric</h2><ul>
The all-new Hyundai Ioniq Electric has improved range for 2020 and new goodies such as ambient lighting and an optional 10.25-inch touchscreen. It’s roomy, and although its cargo capacity isn’t great, it’s certainly good for its size and price. It’s not winning any converts on range alone, but it’s a simple, safe and practical vehicle with good pickup and enviable crash test results.
Base price: $103,800
Combined fuel economy: 69 MPG
Combined range: 203 miles
<h2>How the Tesla Model 3 Compares</h2>Although it seats five like the Model Y and it’s a hatchback and not a sedan, the Ioniq tracks most closely to the Tesla Model 3. Hyundai in this case beats Tesla on price and little else, but it is DC fast-charging capable, it comes with standard brake regeneration, and it boasts dozens of advanced safety features standard on the entry-level package.
<h2>10. Porsche Taycan</h2><ul>
The Taycan is Porsche’s first fully electric vehicle, and the brand’s proud lineage is evident both inside and outside of this 522-horsepower beast of a car, which matches exactly the 155 mph top speed of the Tesla Model S Long Range Plus. Its Launch Control feature catapults the four-door from a standstill, and its tech, comfort, safety and control features represent the very top of the line — and that’s just the entry-level 4S. The most well-heeled buyers have two fully electric turbo options to choose from.
<h2>How the Tesla Model S Compares</h2>The Taycan was built to challenge the Model S, particularly the Model S Performance, since even Germany’s most innovative automaker wouldn’t dare to challenge the 402-mile range of the Model S Long Range Plus. The Taycan jumps from zero to 60 in 3.8 seconds, which seems to be supremely impressive until it’s pointed out that the Tesla Model S Performance covers the same distance in just 2.3 seconds. It can’t be ignored that Porsche’s entry-level package already runs into the six-figures compared to less than $75,000 for Tesla, but if you have the means and can go even higher, the much more expensive Taycan Turbo and Turbo S options might be the first real Model S killers in the EV world.
<h2>11. Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles</h2>Although they drive like EVs, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles boast zero emissions — water vapor is the only byproduct. They generally offer longer mile ranges and much, much faster charging — as in five minutes compared to eight hours. There are three to choose from in 2020:
- The Hyundai NEXO is the only fuel-cell SUV on the market. It starts at $58,735, creates 161 horsepower and boasts a range of 380 miles.
- The Toyota Mirai starts at $58,500 and has a range of 312 miles.
- The Honda Clarity starts at $58,490 and offers a range of 360 miles.
<h2>The Best Might Be Yet To Come</h2>Anyone considering an EV might be best served by waiting a year or two — it’s all but certain that 2021-22 will be a watershed moment for the industry. Lucid is not the only manufacturer that credibly claims to be working on a game-changing electric vehicle. Audi and BMW are expected to dramatically up their offerings in the next year or two, and Ford is planning to go all-E with both its iconic F-150 and Mustang. An electric Hummer is on the near horizon, as is a higher-end competitor called Bollinger that’s hyping a pair of massive, military-styled electric SUVs. Genesis, Jaguar, Porsche and Mercedes-Benz will flood the luxury market with a fleet of new arrivals, and Volkswagen is preparing to unveil an updated all-electric version of its legendary Bus. Then, of course, there’s the vehicle that vows to reshape everything you think you know about pickups from the brand by which all EVs are judged — the Tesla Cybertruck.
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Photos are for illustrative purposes only. As a result, some of the images may not reflect the exact model, trim, or year listed in this article.
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