Welcome to 2018 – it’s going to be an electrifying year. On our roads, that is. The next 12 months are shaping up as a tipping point in the future of the battery-powered car.
It’s been a while coming but the momentum is now unstoppable. Countries including the UK have announced bans on the sale of new combustion-engined vehicles by 2040, and governments are starting to pile in money to improve charging infrastructure.
Every week a car company makes a new zero-emissions pledge, most recently Toyota which says it will have 10 all-electric vehicles by the early 2020s and that every Toyota and Lexus will be electrified by 2025.
We have already seen many electric concepts – everything from an electric Mini to an electric Lamborghini, via wild machines like VW’s battery-powered Pike’s Peak racer. And we are starting to get familiar with new electric brands like BMWi, EQ (Mercedes), ID (VW), e-tron (Audi), Mission E (Porsche) and Polestar (Volvo). These aren’t just electric models but entire ranges of dedicated electric cars based on bespoke new architecture. Cars soon won’t just move differently, they will look different.
One of the fastest cars at the Nürburgring is the battery-powered NIO EP9 (road-legal, but not counted since its tyres weren’t) and Tesla’s latest is an electric truck, illustrating the massive breadth now of electric car development. Range anxiety is starting to fade as the new breed of electric cars targets 300 miles on a charge. Tesla says its truck can go up to 500 miles.
So are you ready to go electric? As a taster of what’s to come, here are five electrifying things you can do in 2018 to be part of the revolution…
Order a Jaguar I-Pace
Usefully arriving a year or so ahead of some German premium rivals, the I-Pace is Jag’s first dedicated all-electric car, boasting unique cab-forward styling, a roomy and flat-floored interior, hatchback versatility and SUV stance. The concept version has set the targets for production, and they are impressive: 400 horsepower, 310-mile range, and 0-62mph in 4.0 seconds. You will be able to order one in March after its Geneva Motor Show debut, with Jaguar promising first deliveries in the summer. No word yet about price, though. Jaguar Land Rover is promising that every model it makes will be electrified in some way by 2020 – and it’s possible there could even be more electric classics, like the electric E-Type that’s already been shown off.
Go to the Geneva Motor Show
Apart from seeing the production version of the Jag I-Pace a visit to Geneva in March (the show is open 8-18 March) will reveal the future of the electric car as never before – the show is sure to be the biggest electric car fest ever. The most interesting exhibits promise to showcase the big manufacturers’ latest takes on their coming mainstream electric cars, mostly due end 2019/20. They might not be showroom ready yet but they should give an accurate indication of how the first Merc EQ, Audi e-tron and VW ID models will look. And if you want glamour and speed? Head to the Rimac stand at Geneva where the Croatian car company is promising a bigger, better follow-up to its million-pound, 1200bhp Concept One supercar we saw at the Festival of Speed in 2017 (or might have seen: 0-62mph is said to be 2.5 seconds).
Billed as the world’s cleanest and most advanced taxi, the new TX will be silently and smokelessly cruising London’s roads in 2018. The six-seat TX, which had its dynamic debut at the Festival of Speed in 2017, looks familiar but is new everywhere with features like wi-fi, air-conditioning, power sockets, coach doors, contactless card machines and a panoramic glass roof. It’s not a pure electric vehicle but a plug-in hybrid with small petrol engine working as a generator to keep the batteries charged. Its total range is 400 miles and 80 of them – typically in the most polluted areas, say Oxford St – can be in electric zero-emissions mode. Transport for London has decreed that all newly-licensed London cabs from January 2018 have to be zero-emissions capable. Goodbye smoky old diesel cabs.
Watch an electric car race
Okay so the cars are a bit whiny but they are fast and the street-circuit racing is as close as can be – no wonder the electric F1 racing, called Formula E, is attracting more interest. The 2017/18 season is already underway (next race: 13 January, Marrakesh) and new to the grid is Audi, as a factory team, with Nissan due to join the fray later in 2018. It may be that the support races are just as watchable: for the first time, there will be rounds of the inaugural Jaguar e-Trophy series which will pit 20 identical I-Paces against each other. Another one-make series, the Electric GT Championship, gets off the ground in 2018 with a field of identical Tesla Model Ss.
Buy a Morgan!
This is the year one of the more intriguing electric cars, a battery version of Morgan’s quirky latterday Three-wheeler, goes into production. We saw the EV3 first as a concept (in 2016) and now thanks to a technical tie-up with electric propulsion specialists Frazer-Nash Energy Systems will be in Morgan showrooms from summer 2018 – complete with the styling that made the concept so appealing, inspired as it was by 1930s aero-engined race cars and 1950s automatons. Cool? You bet. The body is composite (a Morgan first), the range is 120 miles and the 56bhp motor driving the single rear wheel should make it go as quickly and be just as exhilarating as the petrol Three-wheeler. Who said electric cars can’t be fun?