Best Electric Cars To Buy In 2019

Audi e-tron 55 SUV quattro Electric

Rent One Before Buying

This is not the first, nor the last time, I am going to make this comment.  If you are new to the world of electric cars, do not rush into buying an EV. Rent an electric car for a few weeks before buying.


The reasons to buy an EV are numerous, to include

·     A better driving experience

·     Cleaner transportation (i.e. lower pollution)

·     Lower maintenance costs

·     Cheaper owning costs

·     Financial support (i.e. government PiCG grant)


However, what is most important, is that you buy an EV within the context of your everyday living and driving practicalities.  By this I mean, do you have easy access to charging, to include, home, public and workplace charging?  

Do you use your car for very long distances, or are you like the average driver in the UK, driving shorter distances.  In fact, the average distance travelled in the UK per trip is a mere 12 miles!  An EV is certainly capable of 12 miles. Most of the newer models achieve a range between 100 to 200 miles in real world driving conditions.  

Therefore an EV will certainly meet most of your commuting requirements.  For the extended weekend trip, EVs are still a practical option.  However, for long distance trips with limited charging infrastructure,  I recommend renting a plug-in hybrid or conventional hybrid!  

Below are some pure electric cars, also known as Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) for you to consider.  Please do not be easily persuaded to buy the most expensive EV.  I would certainly encourage first time buyers to start with a smaller budget and then upgrade after some experience of driving an EV. Having said that, cheapest is usually not the best.  


A selection of EVs to consider for various budgets

  • Jaguar I-Pace
  • Nissan Leaf 
  • Kia e-Niro 
  • BMW i3
  • Audi e-tron 

Jaguar I-PACE

Jaguar IPACE SUV Electric
Jaguar I-PACE SUV

EVs have come a long way in terms of design. The earlier electric cars certainly did not have ‘good-looking’ as part of the value proposition.  The recent introductions of EVs, in particular the Jaguar I-PACE, has changed that perception for the better.  

I find the Jaguar I-PACE striking and cannot help staring at it, much to the bewilderment of the driver and passengers in the Jaguar Landrover SUV. 

It is therefore not surprising, that the all-electric Jaguar I-PACE SUV has quickly garnered prestigious accolades like, the 2019 World Car Of The Year, 2019 World Car Design of the Year and the 2019 World Green Car.  

Jaguar has become the first luxury automotive brand to boldly define the electric vehicle industry.  Also the first large automotive manufacturer to challenge the dominance of pure EV automotive manufacturers like Tesla.  In particular, head-on against the Tesla Model X.  The I-PACE was conceived a mere four years ago and first shown at the 2016 Los Angeles motor show. 


Variants

There are three variants for the 2020 Jaguar I-PACE:

  • Jaguar I-PACE SUV 90 kWh 400 S Auto (£64,495)
  • Jaguar I-PACE SUV 90 kWh 400 SE Auto (£69,995)
  • Jaguar I-PACE SUV 90 kWh 400 HSE Auto (£74,995)

Key features

  • Battery capacity: 90  kWh (lithium-ion)
  • Range: 292 miles (WLTP)
  • Performance: 0 to 100 kph (4.8 secs)
  • Maximum speed: 124 miles per hour 
  • Drive: four-wheel drive 

Reviews: Snapshot 

  • Top Gear: 8/10
  • Autocar: 4.5/5
  • What Car?: 5/5 

Positives

  • Good-looking and innovative design
  • Good and responsive performance 
  • Quiet, spacious and well built 
  • Good driving range between charges
  • Excellent level of equipment and options 

Negatives

  • Not an EV for the masses in terms of price 
  • Manufacturer quoted range is aggressive.  Real range potentially up to 30% lower than the claimed 292 miles
  • Infotainment system not the best.  Software slow to respond 
  • Rear visibility restricted by shallow rear window
  • Battery capable of charging up to 80% in 40 minutes from a 100kW DC rapid charger.  However, limited rapid charging infrastructure in the UK 

e-zoomed view

If you are desperately keen to own a Model X, then, in the Jaguar I-PACE you have a noteworthy alternative with a lower price tag.  However, if you are new to EVs, I would suggest looking at a cheaper alternative that can achieve a similar range.  The Kia e-Niro is worth considering. 

Looking for a competitive priced Jaguar I-PACE?  Follow this link. 


Nissan Leaf

Nissan Leaf Hatch Electric
Nissan Leaf Electric Car

I vividly recall seeing the first display model of a Nissan Leaf in the UK.  I came across it by chance on a weekend walk many years ago.  It did certainly catch my attention and that was my first encounter with an electric vehicle. 

Since the launch of the first generation Nissan Leaf in 2010, the electric car has come a long way to become one of the best selling electric cars globally, with more than 400,000 sold.  It continues to remain the best selling EV in the UK.  Over the years, the ubiquitous Leaf has won a number of awards, to include:

  • 2010 Green Car Vision Award 
  • 2011 European Car of the Year
  • 2011-12 Car of the Year Japan

Nissan launched its second generation model at the end of 2017 and since then has improved the model further in 2018.   


Variants

There are six variants for the 2019 Nissan Leaf :

  • Nissan Leaf 40 kWh 150 3.Zero Auto (£34,595)
  • Nissan Leaf 40 kWh 150 Acenta Auto  (£31.495)
  • Nissan Leaf 40 kWh 150 N-Connecta Auto  (£32,795)
  • Nissan Leaf 40 kWh 150 Tekna Auto  (£34,495)
  • Nissan Leaf 62 kWh 217 e+ 3..Zero Auto  (£40,295)
  • Nissan Leaf 62 kWh 217 e+ Tekna Auto  (£39,395)

Key features for 40 kWh battery pack

  • Battery capacity: 40  kWh (lithium-ion)
  • Range: 168 miles (WLTP)
  • Performance: 0 to 100 kph (7.9 secs)
  • Maximum speed: 90 miles per hour 
  • Drive: front-wheel drive 

Reviews: Snapshot 

  • Top Gear: 8/10
  • Autocar: 4.5/5
  • What Car?: 4/5 

Positives

  • An established EV.  One of the best selling electric cars globally and best selling EV in the UK
  • Battery has a strong track record of performance 
  • Affordable to buy and own 
  • The 62 kWh variant capable of longer range (239 miles WLTP)
  • Good performance for city driving and acceptable performance for motorways 
  • Above average boot space for a mid-sized hatch back 
  • A good choice for a ‘first EV’ to own with a strong value proposition 

Negatives

  • Body design has room for refinement 
  • Driving position could be improved
  • Perceived cabin quality not as refined 
  • Lacks telescopic steering column adjustment 
  • The range claim is optimistc 

e-zoomed view

If you are like me, seeking practicality over looks.  Value over vanity.  Then the Nissan Leaf is an excellent first EV to own.  It is a tried and tested electric car, and very few can match its track record.  Of course, if you are seeking long luxurious drives and love being noticed, forget the Leaf and focus on the Jaguar I-PACE.    

Looking for a competitive priced Nissan Leaf?  Follow this link. 


Kia e-Niro

Kia e-Niro SUV 5Dr Electric
Kia e-Niro Electric SUV

The Korean manufacturer is not new to the competitive automotive landscape of lower prices and greater value proposition mobility solutions.  Nor is it new to electric vehicles.  In 2014, the company launched its first electric car in the UK, the Soul EV.   

The launch of its all-electric Kia e-Niro, is its second EV release in the UK. 


Variants

  • Kia Niro SUV 64 kWh 201 e-Niro First Edition Auto  (£34,595)

Key Features

  • Battery capacity: 64 kWh (lithium-ion)
  • Range: 282 miles (WLTP)
  • Brake horsepower: 201 bhp
  • Maximum speed: 104 miles per hour 
  • Drive: front-wheel drive 

Reviews: Snapshot 

  • Top Gear: 8/10
  • Autocar: 4.5/5
  • What Car?: 5/5 

Positives

  • Value for money.  A truly affordable mass market family electric car 
  • Excellent range for price segment and more than similarly priced competition 
  • First all-electric car to win What Car? Car of the Year 2019 
  • Ergonomically sound driving position with generous cabin space 
  • A good choice for a ‘first EV’ to own with a strong value proposition 

Negatives

  • Long wait times for delivery as manufacturer needs to ramp up battery capacity 
  • Range estimation from manufacturer is optimistic by up to 20% 
  • Some materials used in the cabin feel cheap 
  • Room for improvement in general handling and steering 
  • Given the strong demand for the EV, discounts are hard to secure 
  • Limited public rapid charging infrastructure available in the UK 

e-zoomed view

It is a winner.  Despite the optimistic range estimate, the EV can comfortable achieve well above 200 miles on a single charge.  Though a bit more expensive the other EVs in its segment, the e-Niro has a strong value proposition in comparison to significantly more expensive premium EVs delivering a similar range.  An very good choice for a first time EV owner and also an electric car driver looking to upgrade to an EV with more range. 

Looking for a competitive priced e-Niro?  Follow this link. 


BMWi3

BMW i3 Hatch 5Dr Electric 42.2kWh 170 EU6
BMWi3 Electric Car

My sister, a proud owner of a BMWi3, has been responsible for introducing this electric car to me.  On most occasions I come across this EV, I see a woman behind the steering wheel.  Go near a school at closing time and you will certainly come across a few BMWi3 with eager mothers to collect their hungry school kids.

The BMWi3 has certainly been received well since its launch in 2013.  It has been on sale in the UK since 2014.   


Variants

  • BMWi3 170 EU6 eDrive Auto  (£35,350)
  • BMWi3 170 EU6 Lodge eDrive Auto  (£36,850)
  • BMWi3 170 EU6 Loft eDrive Auto  (£36,350)
  • BMWi3 170 EU6 Suite eDrive Auto  (£37,350)
  • BMWi3 184 EU6 eDrive Auto  (£37,840)
  • BMWi3 184 EU6 Lodge  eDrive Auto (£39,340)
  • BMWi3 184 EU6 Loft eDrive Auto  (£38,840)
  • BMWi3 184 EU6 Suite eDrive Auto  (£39,840)

Key Features

  • Battery capacity: 42.2  kWh (lithium-ion)
  • Range: 193 miles (WLTP)
  • Brake horsepower: 168 bhp 
  • Maximum speed: 93 miles per hour 
  • Drive: rear-wheel drive 

Reviews: Snapshot 

  • Top Gear: 8/10
  • Autocar: 4/5
  • What Car?: 3/5 

Positives

  • A solid built compact premium EV.  The best premium EV in its segment 
  • Quite premium cabin, with decent standard equipment. Relaxing to drive
  • Designed from ground-up as an EV. Good looking and stylish EV 
  • Easy access to rear seats with rear-hinged passenger doors
  • Cost effective day to day running 

Negatives

  • Pricey compared to other electric cars in its segment 
  • Rear seats in the cabin are a squeeze 
  • Poor residual values 
  • Smaller driving range compared to rivals 

e-zoomed view 

If looks and brand are important to you, then the BMWi3 will certainly not disappoint. However, given the price tag and poor residual values, style comes at a price.  For those more judicious with spending, I would suggest assessing other cheaper EV models in the segment. 


Audi e-tron

Audi e-tron 55 SUV quattro Electric
Audi e-tron Electric SUV

Brussels, is certainly well known for its gastronomy, but now it can add production of electric cars to its list.  The Audi e-tron is manufacturerd in Brussels.  


Variants (2019 Model)

  • Audi e-tron 55 SUV quattro 408 Auto (£71,520)
  • Audi e-tron 55 SUV quattro 408 Launch Edition Auto (£82,271)

Key Features

  • Battery capacity: 95  kWh (lithium-ion)
  • Range: 248 miles (WLTP)
  • Performance: 0-100 kph: 5.7 seconds
  • Brake horsepower: 408 bhp 
  • Maximum speed: 124 miles per hour 
  • Drive: four-wheel drive 

Reviews: Snapshot 

  • Top Gear: 7/10
  • Autocar: 4.5/5
  • What Car?: 4/5 

Positives

  • Similar size to Audi Q7 with good-looking factor 
  • Good level and quality of equipment, as expected at a premium price tag
  • Quieter and smoother than the Q7 
  • Better residual values predicted versus Jaguar I-PACE and Tesla Model X
  • Looks and feels as familiar as a convention SUV.  No radical surprises 

Negatives

  • Only five seats and not 7, like the Q7 or Tesla Model X
  • Legroom for rear seats acceptable but not generous.  In particular, centre rear seat  
  • Real world range potentially 20% below manufacturer quoted range
  • A premium SUV comes at a price. Cheaper than Tesla Model X but more expensive than Jaguar I-PACE 
  • Not a ground-up new design 
  • Slower acceleration than the Jaguar I-PACE and Tesla Model X

e-zoomed view 

I am quite familiar with Audi vehicles.  They have always felt reassuringly safe and certainly deliver a luxurious ride. However, I do find the price tag a challenge, but then premium cars come at a price.  In that regard, the e-tron is no different. However, for those aspiring to buy an all-electric SUV, I would encourage assessing cheaper models that can deliver a similar range.  Of course, if you have deep pockets, then the Audi e-tron will be appropriate.   

Looking for a competitive priced Audi e-tron?  Follow this link


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Author

Ashvin Suri

Ashvin has been involved with the renewables, energy efficiency and infrastructure sectors since 2006. He is passionate about the transition to a low-carbon economy and electric transportation. Ashvin commenced his career in 1994, working with US investment banks in New York. Post his MBA from the London Business School (1996-1998), he continued to work in investment banking at Flemings (London) and JPMorgan (London). His roles included corporate finance advisory, M&A and capital raising. He has been involved across diverse industry sectors, to include engineering, aerospace, oil & gas, airports and automotive across Asia and Europe. In 2010, he co-founded a solar development platform, for large scale ground and roof solar projects to include the UK, Italy, Germany and France. He has also advised on various renewable energy (wind and solar) utility scale projects working with global institutional investors and independent power producers (IPP’s) in the renewable energy sector. He has also advised in key international markets like India, to include advising the TVS Group, a multi-billion dollar industrial and automotive group in India. Ashvin has also advised Indian Energy, an IPP backed by Guggenheim (a US$ 165 billion fund). He has also advised AMIH, a US$ 2 billion, Singapore based group. Ashvin has also worked in the real estate and infrastructure sector, to including working with the Matrix Group (a US$ 4 billion property group in the UK) to launch one of the first few institutional real estate funds for the Indian real estate market. The fund was successfully launched with significant institutional support from the UK/ European markets. He has also advised on water infrastructure, to include advising a Swedish clean technology company in the water sector. He is also a member of the Forbury Investment Network advisory committee. He has also been involved with a number of early stage ventures.

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