► Upcoming electric cars worth waiting for
► From Aiways to Tesla
► You'll be spoiled for choice
Forget the British government's plans to cease sales of purely petrol and dedicated diesel cars by 2030 – the number of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) on sale will snowball long before then.
Many of the car industry’s heavy hitters have been transforming their businesses and plunging millions into the design and development of electric cars. The fruits of those investments are already ripening, but there's plenty more to come, not least from new brands seeing electric cars as an opportunity to get involved in the automotive industry.
Here's our guide to the new electric cars you need to keep an eye out for in 2021 and beyond – and, if one in particular takes your fancy, don’t forget to let us know in the comments section at the end.
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From the tiny Citroën Ami to the Tesla Cybertruck, there are some intriguing BEVs of all different shapes and sizes just around the corner. Read on for our look at the most interesting upcoming electric cars.
Future electric cars 2021: what to expect this year and beyond
It's not only the big household-name car manufacturers that are getting in on the electric-car action – BEV powertrains make it easier for start-ups to get involved, with many originating in China.
One such new marque is Aiways (there's no missing 'r' in there), with its Kuga-sized U5 crossover, a model already on sale in several European markets. It should land in the UK before the end of 2021.
A range of 250 miles will suit the majority of drivers well, while its 201bhp motor system promises decent performance. It's never easy to establish a new brand, but if the U5's good and the price is attracttive, Aiways could gain a foothold.
Some markets also get a larger U7 model, but that's less likely to reach Britain.
Following on from the e-Tron GT saloon, Audi is on an electric charge, and new spy pictures suggest the Q2 is the latest model to swap fossil fuel for batteries.
Our man with the telephoto lens has captured a new emissionless version of Ingolstadt’s baby SUV testing, but there are seemingly few changes compared with the ICE-powered Q2.
Munich is desperately ramping up its electric-car ambitions and the i4 will move the sub-brand into a more high-volume, family-friendly part of the market.
It's a strategy that could see a more mainstream appearance spreading across an i-range from 1 to 9 in the fullness of time.
The production-spec i4 Gran Coupe will use two electric motors, all-wheel drive and torque vectoring. It’s likely that BMW will follow Tesla’s lead in offering different versions with a choice of power outputs. This car is aimed squarely at the Model 3, after all.
Accompanied by an aggressive social media campaign that at times has risked antagonising traditional BMW loyalists, the iX SUV is the production version of the iNext concept that was paraded on the international motor show circuit for a few years.
Consequently, we suspected its looks would be more challenging than lashings of Marmite as an accompaniment to baked beans on Weetabix, and we weren't wrong. Whether it attacts swarms of new-to-BMW customers will unfold in due course.
At least the minimalist, screen-dominated cabin looks swish, but to our eyes it's still a step backwards from the i3.
Order books are set to open for British early adopters before 2021's drawn to a close.
The Byton M-Byte is an ambitious, highly connected SUV we previously saw at the 2019 CES – the Consumer Electronics Show, for the less techy of you.
British sales of right-hand-drive M-Bytes are due to begin before the end of 2021 – expect it to be bristling with tech and a dashboard screen that stretch the full width for both driver and passenger use.
Just like the Audi e-Tron, the M-Byte is aimed at all the growth areas of the car market: China, SUVs and EVs. But unlike the e-Tron, Byton is targeting a more accessible price, and believes it can generate the scale to draw comparisons to the Tesla Model 3.
Dusting off an historic name for its diminutive and friendly-looking EV is a well-judged move by Citroën, with its charmingly weird, plastic-bodied Ami.
It's still not confirmed for the UK, although it is likely to arrive in 2022, but the steering wheel will remain on the left. A very low asking price in the region of £6k will help forgive it that.
Given you're effectively limited to city driving thanks to its 43-mile range and 28mph top speed, this isn't a bad thing, allowing you to alight kerbside outside your favourite boutique.
And if you don't want to pick it up and run it along your desk ask yourself who stole your heart.
If you fancy a VW ID.3 with a sportier appearance then the Cupra Born could be electric hatch for you. It's slipped off the Volkswagen's MEB slacks and donned a tracksuit instead.
And yes, in case you're wondering, this was first shown as the Seat, then Cupra, el-Born. The name quite literally comes from a small, trendy precinct in Barcelona of the same name, not far from the touristy Gothic Quarter. There’s a metaphor in there somewhere, however, it was lost on the marketeers who've plumped for the plainer Born identity.
Powering the Born is a 201bhp motor, capable of launching the electric hatch to 62mph in 7.5 seconds. Up to 310 miles can be gleaned from its 77kWh battery pack, and it can be recharged via a 100kW charger in around 45 minutes. Less powerful versions along with smaller batteries are likely to follow – it's still possible they'll be badged Seat...
Follow-up to the Born in Cupra's fledgling EV range will be a production version of the Tavascan concept from 2019. It will be a similar relationship between the two as with the Leon and Formentor.
It almost goes without saying that being from VW Group and powered by electricity, it's based on the firm's omnipresent MEB platform.
Expect the Tavascan to cost quite a bit more than the Born to preserve its exclusivity, and almost certainly no Seat-badged versions.
After being previewed by a near-production concept, Dacia's revealed the showroom spec version of its electric Spring city car.
As an electric car rather than a quadricycle (like the Citroën Ami; different regulations apply, although little that will matter in the UK), it promises to be the cheapest BEV you can buy, in Europe at least.
Unfortunately, UK sales of right-hand-drive Springs is not yet confirmed – if it does arrive here it will be 2022 at the earliest.
Lobbying your nearest Dacia dealer can't hurt.
Not every upcoming electric car is an SUV, but given the continued growth of that bodystyle's popularity, it's no surprise that manufacturers are desperate for a slice of the crossover pie.
One such brand, reinventing itself and finding contemporary relevance, is Fisker, with its edgy Ocean set to arrive in Britain during 2022.
Production will be handled by Magna in Austria after a deal with Volkswagen to use the MEB platform came to nought.
Expect prices to kick off around the £35k-£40k mark, with the range topped by a performance flagship capable of squirting from a standstill to 62mph in under three seconds.
With the eagerly awaited Mustang Mach-E now on sale, the next all-electric Ford to arrive will be a battery-equipped version of the big Transit van. But that's just the start.
Having already signed a deal to co-develop a new generation of commercial vehicles with Volkswagen, the arrangement has been extended to allow Ford to produce MEB-based electric models at a revitalised Cologne plant.
All Ford-badged cars will be sold with a plug by 2026 and just four years later production of ICE-equipped Blue Oval models will cease completely.
It's quite something when industry giants have to buddy-up to ensure profitability in this brave new world.
At a time when car manufacturers are launching hatchbacks disguised as SUVs, Hyundai's done the opposite with its new Ioniq 5. Not only that, it has the silhouette of an angular hatch from the late-1970s, and that's not something we're going to complain about.
Its bodywork is rich in strong forms and intricate detail, while inside the Ioniq 5 is a minimalist tech-fest – it's a remarkably faithful facsimile of the Hyundai 45 concept.
Expect much more of the same from Hyundai as the Ioniq sub-brand will be expanded into a broader range of models in the coming years.
If you like the look of our rendering of the electric Jaguar XJ for 2021 we have some bad news: it's been canned very late in the development process as part of JLR's Reimagine programme under new boss Thierry Bolloré.
As part of the plan, Jaguar is being, well, reimagined, becoming electric-only from 2025. What's still to be revealed is whether Jag will continue to operate in the same market segments it currently does, but a line-up that includes three saloons is highly unlikely.
Land Rover is also going fully electric, but not until 2030. However the first battery-powered model will arrive in 2024, most likely a zero-emission Range Rover.
It's also worth noting the marques will use different BEV underpinnings. Land Rover's will be bespoke for off-road use, while what Jaguar utilises could be shared with another manufacturer.
One of the most iconic of American automobiles is getting in on the battery-powered action: during 2021 Jeep is previewing an electric Wrangler concept, ahead of sales beginning the following year.
Exactly what the technical spec of the Wrangler electric is hasn't been revealed, but given Jeep buyers have very high expectations when it comes to off-road agility, we doubt this will be compromised.
A standard 77.4kWh battery ratified for 316 miles, rear wheel-drive and a £40,895 base price: Kia has confirmed the specification of the zero emissions EV6, its Porsche-bothering crossover in flagship GT spec. Car dropped in to Kia UK’s deserted HQ to kick the tyres of the zero emissions crossover, and here are 10 bitesize things you need to know about it.
Okay, you don't need to call yourself Sherlock to deduce what's going on here: just as the recently launched EQA is an electric GLA with a new nose and tail, complemented by a tweaked cabin, the same strategy will be employed to convert the GLB into the EQB.
Expect a similar range structure to its smaller sibling when it arrives later in 2021, so EQB 250 at first, with a more powerful, larger battery EQB 300 soon after.
Just be aware that it's likely that the GLB's third row of seats will have disappeared to make more space for batteries as part of this electric conversion.
Porsche is the latest brand to announce a huge push towards BEV production, as evidenced by this: the second-generation Macan SUV, but this time it’ll only come in electric flavour.
Given that Porsche's first electric car, the Taycan, is one of our battery-driven favourites, the omens for the smaller, (slightly) lighter Mk2 Macan are promising.
Expect to see it in production form in the second half of 2021.
Renault is no stranger to electric cars following on from the Fluence, Twizy and Zoe, but that's not stopping the French giant going further.
As part of its Renaulution plans announced in early 2021, that will also see an electric replacement for the slinky Alpine A110 co-developed with Lotus, Renault's exploring its back catalogue for inspiration. The battery-powered 5 will hit showrooms in 2023 and could well be followed-up by a reborn electric 4.
Expect the new 5 to be similar in size to today's Zoe, but with a greater focus on retro appeal that will be reflected in a higher price point.
Look closely and there also appears to be another evolution of the Renault rhombus incoming too.
In the brave new world of electric cars, not all will be guilt-free luxury barges or tiny city slickers: enter Croatia's Rimac with its 20-off C_Two hypercar due in 2021.
Rimac might be new to the scene, but it's quickly built up a wealth of engineering expertise – enough for Porsche to grab a big stake and for Hyundai to agree a technical partnership as well.
Expect big things from this specialist manufacturer during the 2020s.
Another new name hopes to steal some of Tesla's clean-car creds: Rivian. An American start-up, it has serious backers and some very plausible models that are set to go into production during 2021.
Two models are set to reach the UK during 2022 – the R1S SUV and the closely related R1T pick-up, both with long driving ranges and clever features such as Tank Turn, utlising a four-wheel steering system that allows the Rivian to turn on the spot.
Rolls-Royce has already confirmed it’ll skip hybrid power completely, instead moving from ICE to electric power – and now a new report from BMW Blog suggests what Goodwood’s first EV might be called. Eagle-eyed members of an i4 forum have spotted a new German patent application from BMW, and it registers the name ‘Silent Shadow’.
You’re looking at the Seat Minimo, a new Twizy-style concept car not unveiled at Geneva, but at Mobile World Congress (or MWC). Seat says the all-electric concept has been developed to meet the challenges of city driving and emissions regulations.
Seat says the Minimo should combines the benefits of a motorcycle with the comfort of a car – while still remaining agile – and that basically puts it on parallel with Renault’s Twizy vehicle. It should comfortably fit two people and at just 2.5 metres long and 1.24 wide, the Minimo could be fine for smaller parking spaces. More info here.
Not content with electrifying saloons, SUVs, sports cars and – soon – articulated lorries, Tesla has now unveiled its radical new Cybertruck, the first all-electric pick-up from Fremont. With a range of up to 500 miles, three different power outputs and seating for six, the Tesla Cybertruck is one of the most exciting trucks on the market, looking more like a DeLorean from Back to the Future than a commercial flatbed. Full story right here.
If performance is your thing, the new Tesla Roadster v2 due in 2020 is hard to ignore. In typical Elon Musk fashion, the entrepreneur has decreed that the first open-top Tesla will also be the world’s fastest car – with 0-60mph in a claimed 1.9sec. That’s what happens when you plumb 7300lb ft of torque through a lightweight four-seater targa bodyshell. Bearing in mind some of the outrageous claims made for other Teslas (and the company’s inability to launch cars on schedule and budget), we might take its 250mph top speed and 620-mile range with a pinch of salt.
The Model Y is the more upright, SUV-style version of the smaller, cheaper Model 3 – and it could arguably be an even more important car for the pioneering EV company. It's Musk's version of the compact crossover SUV – a segment that brands such as VW, Audi and well, everyone seems to be all over in the 2020s. It's also one of the most important sectors in the rapidly growing Chinese market.