6 solid electric cars that aren’t a Tesla
You so want a Tesla, don’t you? So do lots of others.
With a starting price of $35,000 and the ability to go 215 miles on a charge, the new Tesla Model 3 commanded hundreds of thousands of reservations when it was unveiled in March, according to company founder Elon Musk.
But Tesla isn’t the only company building electric cars worth considering. These cars might not go as far on a single charge, but most people don’t drive that much most days, anyway. Meanwhile, some competing electric cars are cheaper, more efficient or have other notable features.
Here are six non-Tesla electric cars that might appeal to you.
1. Most efficient: 2016 BMW i3
The 2016 BMW i3 uses just 27 kilowatt-hours of power to go 100 miles, according to federal ratings. You’ll drive 81 miles on a charge.
Other perks include an interior with open-pore eucalyptus wood and leather tanned with olive-leaf extract. The navigation system takes your charge level and driving style into account, and it’ll tell you when other forms of transit are a faster option.
Downsides include the fact that it only seats four and starts at $42,400, which is more than many other electric cars.
2. Best balance of efficiency and price: 2016 Chevrolet Spark EV
The 2016 Chevrolet Spark EV is nearly as efficient as the BMW i3, using 28 kWh to go 100 miles. But it starts at just $25,995.
The Spark EV goes an average of 82 miles per charge, and you can optimize your efficiency by adapting your driving style to keep a virtual green ball in the center of an efficiency gauge. Car and Driver rated the Spark tops among electric cars, praising its “gutsy electric motor,” “pleasantly balanced and responsive” handling, and battery placement that retains the passenger and storage space of its conventional sibling. Like the BMW, the Spark seats only four people.
3. Cheapest: 2016 Mitsubishi i-MiEV
The 2016 Mitsubishi i-MiEV starts at just $22,995. It’s also pretty efficient, using 30 kWh to go 100 miles. The biggest downside of the i-MiEV is that it goes just 62 miles on a charge. Like our first two cars, the i-MiEV seats four.
4. Longest range: 2016 Nissan Leaf
The Nissan Leaf comes in two battery sizes: one with a range of 84 miles and one that goes 107 miles on a charge. That’s far below a Tesla, but better than non-Tesla competitors. Both versions are listed as using 30 kWh of power to go 100 miles.
Another place where the Leaf is better than every other electric car that isn’t a Tesla is cargo volume (24 cubic feet). The Leaf seats five.
5. Most passenger space: 2016 Kia Soul EV
The Kia Soul EV has 97 cubic feet of passenger space and seats five. It also embraces a boxy aesthetic, if you go for that sort of thing. The Soul uses 32 kWh of power to go 100 miles and goes 93 miles on a charge. It starts at $31,950.
To conserve charge, the Soul’s climate-control system includes a heat pump, a system that automatically controls how much outside air to let in, and an option to only heat or cool the driver’s area.
6. Notable feature: 2016 Mercedes-Benz B250e
Regenerative braking is common in electric cars: It uses the turning wheels to generate power and recharge the battery when you take your foot off the accelerator and apply the brakes. This also helps the car slow down. The Mercedes-Benz B250e goes further, with a “radar-based recuperation system” that uses radar to monitor the speed of the vehicle in front of you and its distance from you and then automatically adjusts to recuperate as much energy as possible. Paddles behind the steering wheel allow the driver to choose between recuperation levels, from prioritizing power generation to maximizing coasting ability.
This system may help make up for the fact that the B250e has the lowest efficiency among electric cars, using 40 kWh to go 100 miles. It goes 87 miles on a charge. The Mercedes also isn’t cheap, with a starting price of $41,450.
Tesla certainly played a key part in proving there’s a big market for electric cars. Thanks in large part to its efforts, consumers now have a bunch of good electric options. So make sure you shop around to find the vehicle that best suits your needs and budget.