2014 Electric Cars

The market for plug-in electric vehicles will enter its fourth year in 2014. What started as a niche market with two vehicles in December 2010 has grown over the past three years to 14 cars from nine different automakers. The expansion of consumer choice continues in 2014 with new electric entries from BMW, Cadillac, Mitsubishi, Porsche, Tesla and Volkswagen.

That adds up to seven new plug-in vehicles in 2014—pushing the total number of options beyond 20 models. Most of the new EVs and plug-in hybrids will be offered only in a few markets, or in limited numbers.

Nonetheless, as 2014 progresses, upscale consumers seeking to displace gasoline with greener electric propulsion will have an array of luxury vehicles to consider: including a Tesla SUV, a Cadillac extended-range coupe, and an all-electric urban Bimmer. There will also be two supercars: a pair of plug-in hybrids, one each from BMW and Audi.

More practical cost-conscious buyers will not be left out. Volkswagen enters the electric car market for the first time in 2014, with a battery-powered version of its ultra-popular VW Golf.

BMW i3

Electric Vehicle Sedan

81 miles (pure electric)
$42,300

The stylish if slightly odd-looking BMW i3 is the lightest EV on the market. That makes it very efficient while providing a fast and fun 170-horsepower ride. Zero to sixty performance is close to seven seconds. The i3 uses a liquid-cooled 22-kilowatt-hour battery pack to deliver more than 80 miles of range. The electric Bimmer is also available with a small gas engine that essentially doubles that distance.

BMW i8

Plug-in Hybrid Coupe

25 miles (electric + gasoline)
$137,000

The i8 is BMW's expensive sleek futuristic plug-in hybrid supercar. The car is powered in a one-two punch by a powerful 96-kilowatt (129-horsepower) electric motor driving the front wheels—and an efficient 230-horsepower 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder gasoline engine motivating the rear wheels.

Cadillac ELR

Plug-in Hybrid Coupe

37 miles (electric + gasoline)
$76,000

The ELR boasts an electric-only range of 37 miles and a total combined range of about 340 miles. The ELR shares most of its technical elements with the current Chevy Volt, including its 1.4-liter gasoline engine and 17-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The ELR features Cadillac's signature angular look, but that alone is not worth the steep price.

Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive

Electric Vehicle Sedan

85 miles (pure electric)
$42,400

This small Mercedes electric car directly competes with the BMW i3. Its powertrain is provided by Tesla Motors, but engineers turned it into a comfortable and relaxed commuter car. If driven with care, the well-appointed B-Class could offer around 100 miles of range from a battery pack capable of holding 31.5 kilowatt-hours of juice.

Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid

Plug-in Hybrid SUV

22 miles (electric + gasoline)
$100,000

The 2014 Porsche Panamera S E-hybrid is luxury sports sedan first, and a plug-in hybrid second. The four-seater is powered by a 3.0-liter, V6 supercharged gasoline engine, paired with a 70-kilowatt electric motor. It provides about 22 miles of all-electric range and a top speed of 167 miles per hour.

Kia Soul EV

Electric Vehicle Sedan

93 miles (pure electric)
$34,500

Hyundai-Kia is arriving late to the EV party. But it appears that Kia has made a careful study of what's available, and loaded its Soul EV with smart features for electric car drivers. For starters, it offers 93 miles of real-world range. On top of that, the Kia Soul EV, the company’s first all-electric model, has a strong fun factor.

Tesla Model X

Electric Vehicle SUV

230 miles (pure electric)
$80,000

The Model X is Tesla’s follow-up vehicle to the award-winning Model S sedan. The X shares about 60 percent of the content from the sedan—converting the sleek Maserati-looking five-passenger model into a stylish crossover utility vehicle.

Volkswagen E-Golf

Electric Vehicle Sedan

83 miles (pure electric)
$36,300

The Volkswagen E-Golf will be VW's first electric car entry to hit the market. By placing an electric drivetrain into one of the most popular small cars in the world, VW hopes to convince the car-buying public that EVs have move beyond niche status. Yet, the company's commitment to a pure electric car appears less certain than its use of plug-in hybrid technology.

Audi A3 E-Tron

Plug-in Hybrid Luxury

30 miles (electric + gasoline)
TBD

After years of developing all kinds of plug-in prototype, Audi will finally put one on sale in 2015. The A3 Sportback platform has a compelling mix of attributes—elegant lines, high-quality materials, and practicality. Combine that with a capable 1.4-liter turbocharged gas engine and an electric powertrain providing 30 miles of electric driving. The result is small snazzy and robust plug-in hybrid.