Charged Up: The EVs of the 2019 Detroit Auto Show
Putting the “motor” in Motor City.
The North American International Auto Show in Detroit isn't generally a hotbed of battery-powered vehicles; automakers tend to lean toward debuting new EVs at the Los Angeles auto show, owing to the vehicles' popularity there and California's mandate for zero-emissions vehicles. But this year's Detroit show was different, with the city playing host to a number of new electric cars and concepts in addition to those vehicles already on the market. Read on for our roundup of the EVs of NAIAS.
Cadillac EV SUV
Although it doesn't yet have a physical concept vehicle to show, Cadillac revealed renderings of a large electric-powered SUV it plans to build as one of the first vehicles to use General Motors' future electric platform. Details were thin, with Cadillac revealing only that the platform will be scalable to simplify development of different vehicle types, accommodate a wide range of battery sizes, and be capable of front-, rear-, or all-wheel-drive. [Read more]
Now in its third year of production, the Bolt was the first EV to deliver 200+ miles of range (238, to be specific) at a price tag under $30,000 after incentives, and while there were several vehicles at the show that can make the same claim, the Bolt remains the most prominent of Detroit's EV efforts. [Read more]
GAC Entranze Concept
Chinese automaker GAC introduced a concept car called the Entranze, which was styled at its newly opened design studio in Los Angeles. This seven-seat SUV-ish vehicle is stated to have an electric powertrain, although the company didn't provide specifics. We'll have to wait until the production version goes on sale (presumably in China) in the second half of 2019 to find out more.
GAC also brought a production electric vehicle called the GE3. Details about the front-drive hatchback were scant, but we know it has a 132-kW (177-hp) electric motor and a top speed of 97 mph. GAC claims a range of 190 miles, but that's at a constant 37 mph; real-world range would be shorter. GAC's North American launch is some ways off—and has been delayed slightly by the trade tiff with China—but it appears likely that it would sell a small EV like this in the United States.
Hyundai Kona Electric
The electric version of Hyundai's Kona has the longest range of any affordable electric car—258 miles according to the EPA. The Kona EV also offers a surprising amount of off-the-line scoot, and is overall quite pleasant to drive. [Read more]
Infiniti QX Inspiration Concept
The QX Inspiration concept car gives us a preview of Infiniti's first all-electric SUV—or, more specifically, a line of electrified SUVs. "Electrified" indicates electric elements in the powertrain, and Infiniti has announced that this platform will support gas-electric hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains as well as a full-electric battery-powered version. [Read more]
Infiniti Prototype 10
This sleek electric concept debuted last year during Monterey Car Week—just prior to which we photographed it in our studio and spoke with its designer—doesn't have a running powertrain, but it is theoretically electric and is intended to show the brand is serious about building fun and emotional EVs. [Read more]
Kia Niro EV
The all-electric version of Kia's Niro was revealed last year but hasn't yet reached the market. The Niro EV offers 201 horsepower, 291 lb-ft of torque, and 238 miles of range. Pricing hasn't been announced, but we'd be surprised if the Niro EV didn't fall under the barrier of $30,000 after federal tax incentives. [Read more]
Kia Soul Electric
Another new EV from Kia is the electric version of the all-new 2020 Soul. The Soul shares its powertrain and 64-kWh battery pack with the Niro, but despite its boxy shape it has 1 additional mile of range for a total of 239. As with the Niro EV, pricing for the electric Soul has not yet been announced.
Mahle is a German parts supplier, and its Mahle Efficient Electric Transport (MEET) is a city-car concept powered by two small 48-volt electric motors. It is said to squeeze 124 miles of range from a small 20-kWh battery pack, but the top speed of 62 mph probably wouldn't fly in the States.
Nissan Gen 2 Formula E Car
Nissan's stand included this Formula E car, which can accelerate from zero to 62 mph in 2.8 seconds and reach a top speed of 174 mph. A pair of the cars is being campaigned by the Nissan e.dams race team with Oliver Rowland and Sebastien Buemi behind the wheels.
Nissan IMs Concept
The IMs concept made its world debut at the 2019 Detroit show. Its 483-hp, all-wheel-drive dual-motor powertrain promises blistering performance, while its 115-kWh battery pack is good for a stated range of 380 miles. This is still merely a concept, but it shows that Nissan is contemplating electric replacements for sporty sedans like the Maxima. [Read more]
Nissan Leaf Plus
This is the new long-range version of the Leaf, though its 226 miles of range falls short of competitors like the Bolt and Kona Electric. Small blue trim strips on the bumpers differentiate the Leaf Plus from other Leafs, and the car has been raised by 0.2 inch to accommodate its larger battery pack. [Read more]
Quadrobot Model U1
Equipped with a swappable battery pack and a small forward cabin, this little box also has modular cargo space, four-wheel steering, and a skateboard-style chassis that incorporates its electric drivetrain, steering, and suspension. The car's maker says the chassis—which it calls Quadropod—may be sold as a separate unit to other manufacturers.
Another future mobility solution, this Rinspeed concept first showed up at 2019 CES and features a skateboard chassis and a removable cabin that were displayed separately at the Detroit show. The upper portion can be customized to autonomously deliver cargo, online shopping purchases, or people.
This little EV pod comes from share2drive, a German company. The idea is, as the company says, to "fill the gap between private and public transportation." It has three seats and is said to be "prepared for autonomous driving." Top speed is 75 mph, and it offers a numerically similar maximum range of 75 miles.
Toyota had a big show with the debut of the new Supra, but it also brought several of its far-out electric concepts from the past few years, including the i, the i-RIDE, the i-WALK, the i-ROAD, and the FCV-2.
The Volkswagen e-Golf is an EV we admire for its functionality and everyday livability. Unfortunately, its 125-mile range is peanuts compared to the latest batch of affordable EVs with ranges of 200 miles or better. You can bet that VW's coming crop of EVs will do better—much better. [Read more]