The electric vehicle is no passing fad. Manufacturers are investing heavily in this technology, and many already have electric 4x4s and SUVs in the works. Here are the five electrically powered vehicles we’re most excited about.
Once upon a time, the concept of an electric 4×4 seemed fantastical. Early electric vehicles were so heavy, prone to technical issues and limited in terms of range that it was hard to believe that a practical 4×4 powered by electricity would ever be feasible. How could companies ever manage to build a large electric SUV if they couldn’t even manage a small electric city runabout that made sense?
How quickly things have changed. While it’ll undoubtedly still be a while before we see an overlander capable of travelling more than a thousand kilometres on a single charge, electric SUVs are here. In the next few years, a whole host of electric SUVs will be hitting the streets. Here are the five most interesting upcoming electric 4×4s.
1. Tesla Model X
The Tesla Model X remains the leader when it comes to electric SUVs. Not only is it the only vehicle on this list already widely available for purchase, but it also offers incredible design and performance. It can go from 0–100km/h in a mere 3.2 seconds and has a top speed of 250km/h. Built on the Tesla platform, the Model X’s battery location on the floor gives Model X an extremely low centre of gravity, reducing the risk of rollover common in SUVs. Design features include a windshield that stretches up and over the two front seats so passengers can experience an open feel, and dramatic ‘falcon wing doors’ at the rear that open upwards.
2. Audi e-tron Quattro SUV
Audi has been working on an all-electric SUV for a few years. It debuted the e-tron Quattro SUV at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show, and the concept was fitted with three motors (one at the front and two at the rear), capable of delivering 370kW of power and 800Nm of torque. The good news, though, is that this was no one-off concept. Audi is currently busy testing a production version of the vehicle, and plenty of pictures of this vehicle have been snapped on public roads. There are even images of the SUV being tested with a trailer behind it. The production version of the e-tron Quattro looks likely to be launched later this year.
3. Jaguar I-PACE
Jaguar Land Rover has embraced the electric future in a big way, and will apparently be bringing hybrids and all-electric vehicles to South Africa by 2019. Its first all-electric model will be the I-Pace, and it is scheduled to go on sale locally in 2019. There’s loads to get excited about. The I-Pace looks great, of course, but it also promises a great driving experience. The vehicle’s electric motor will produce 294kW of power and 700Nm of torque. The vehicle will also be able to go from 0–100km/h in under four seconds, but will boast a range of more than 500km. Overall, the I-Pace looks like a fun and functional SUV that many people would be able to live with on a daily basis. Jaguar claims that the SUV can achieve an 80% charge in 90 minutes with a 50kW DC rapid charger.
4. Mercedes-Benz Generation EQ
Shown at the Paris Motor Show in 2016, the Mercedes-Benz Generation EQ concept gives us a good idea of what an electric production SUV from the German manufacturer would look like. While its interior is a tad ‘out there’ and futuristic, this is not a pie-in-the-sky concept. The technology underpinning the Generation EQ is ready to be rolled out on a large scale, so expect to see an SUV resembling this concept in the next few years. According to Mercedes, the Generation EQ has two electric motors capable of producing 300kW of power and 700Nm of torque, which puts it in similar territory to the Jaguar I-PACE, one of the first all-electric SUVs we’ll see in SA.
5. Bollinger B1 4×4
The other vehicles on this list are all by well-established manufacturers, and they tend to be quite road-oriented. The Bollinger B1, however, is a pukka off-roader built by a small shop. According to the manufacturer, the B1 weighs a relatively modest 1 770kg and is powered by a 100kW/h electric motor, capable of delivering 268kW of power and 640Nm of torque. The vehicle’s top speed is apparently 205km/h, and it has a range of around 320km. More impressively, though, is its 390mm of ground clearance and 56-degree approach angle. Since Bollinger has military applications in mind, the B1 also has a load-carrying capacity of 2 700kg. Let’s hope Bollinger actually manages to produce the B1 on a meaningful scale, as the vehicle has us feeling quite optimistic about the long-term future of off-roading.
Text: GG van Rooyen