On Friday, I wrote about three companies that have been leading us into the electric vehicle revolution. However, there are a few other companies that I think also deserve some props for their own electric vehicle efforts. These three companies fill an important second tier, in my opinion:
BMW was late to the game. Otherwise, it probably would have made it into the first tier, because I think it’s going to rank pretty high on the electric car sales chart in 2014 and 2015. Only a handful of cars have been built electric from the ground up, and one of the best of those is the BMW i3.
With a price point and quality between the Nissan Leaf and the Tesla Model S, the BMW i3 is in a good spot to see strong sales. Furthermore, while there are now over a dozen electric cars on the market, many of those have been created only to meet the fuel economy requirements of certain markets, especially the large Californian market. However, BMW seems passionate about the electric vehicle transition and is making the BMW i3 widely available in the US and Europe. It’s really looking to sell this thing and become a leader in this emerging market, especially in its home country of Germany, which has practically no electric vehicle incentives.
Aside from the i3, BMW has also built the BMW i8, a plug-in hybrid electric sports car, also designed to be a plug-in car from the very beginning. And it is working on the BMW X5 eDrive, an electric SUV with a ton of benefits that could see excellent sales and might even be the first electric SUV on the US market. In the coming years, BMW has actually stated that it intends to electrify its entire lineup.
GM’s leadership has fallen off a bit as of late. However, it brought one of the first modern plug-in cars to market and has offered it for sale widely. Actually, it has two versions, the Chevy Volt and the Opel Ampera. GM won many awards for these cars and has also pleased many customers. The Volt has topped customer satisfaction charts for years. However, GM hasn’t brought production up to demand in recent years and has also been slow to keep up with price cuts in this increasingly competitive market.
It did look like GM was headed for some strong leadership on the battery side of things with innovative battery startup Envia, but then that turned into a dead end and it appears as though GM was deceived a bit along the way.
GM has also released the Chevy Spark EV, which received better reviews than its gasoline-powered sibling, but GM has only offered that in two US states. The company also recently released the Cadillac ELR, widely described as a luxury version of the Chevy Volt. However, it’s often criticized as being twice as expensive as the Chevy Volt but not twice as good. It’s also criticized for costing essentially the same as the Tesla Model S but not having nearly the same level of performance.
In other words, at times, GM is a strong leader in the EV space, but at other times, it’s just inching along.
Mitsubishi Motors is perhaps the most forgotten of the top six electric vehicle leaders. At least, I think so. I actually considered putting it in the first tier, but it hasn't done very well in the world's biggest electric vehicle market, the US. The Mitsubishi i-MiEV was one of the first electric cars on the market, and it sold okay for awhile. However, it couldn’t keep up with the Nissan Leaf as well as later entrants to the market. When electric car costs started dropping, the i-MiEV stayed about where it was. As a result, better electric cars became cheaper and sales of the i-MiEV tanked. A big price cut is supposed to be around the corner, but until then, the i-MiEV is at the back of the pack.
On the other hand, the i-MiEV isn’t Mitsubishi’s only electrified vehicle. The Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in is a plug-in hybrid electric SUV that has seen tremendous demand. In Japan and Europe, high sales have often put it in the top three of monthly and even annual plug-in car sales, even first and second on many occasions. Demand is so high (and supply limited) that its entry into the US market keeps getting pushed back. It’s unclear when the Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in will make it to the US market, but I’m confident it will do very well there once it does.
There are a handful of other companies that deserve some kudos here or there for their electric vehicle efforts, but I think these three and the three I wrote about on Friday have really been leading the way.
Image Credits: BMW, GM, Mitsubishi Motors