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Best electric cars arriving in 2021

The XC40 Recharge Pure Electric is Volvo’s first battery-electric vehicle.

They’re coming. Slowly but surely, battery-electric vehicles (BEVs, or EVs) are making their way to Australia, despite the lack of federal, state and local government incentives that help boost the demand for zero-tailpipe-emissions vehicles.

The fact is, EV infrastructure is growing from coast to coast, and carmakers remain confident that legislators will eventually join other nations in incentivising EV uptake in some form or another. After all, we are on the cusp of huge wave of fresh EVs, especially from Europe, Korea and China.

We’ll only see a trickle initially, but some are already earmarked for an Australian launch in 2021.

Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric - Second half

Hot on the heels of the Volvo XC40 Recharge Plug-in Hybrid and due in the second half of 2021, the Recharge Pure Electric employs a 300kW/660Nm dual-motor powertrain and a 78kWh lithium-ion battery that provides more than 400km of driving range.

Driving all four wheels, the Swedish SUV can hit 100km/h in 4.9 seconds, while a DC fast charger can replenish the battery pack from flat to 80 per cent in 40 minutes.

You’ll spot the electrified Volvo from its closed-off grille, unique wheels, ‘Recharge’ badging peppered around the body and interior. There’s also a 30L frunk due to its lack of an internal-combustion engine.

Volvo XC40

Volvo XC40
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)

Tesla Model S Plaid - Late 2021

The Model S breaks new ground again with the flagship Plaid – a new tri-motor variant due IN late 2021.

Plaid has three electric motors – one up front, two on the rear axle – for an astonishing 820kW of all-wheel-drive thrust, resulting in a 0-100km/h time of an unbelievable 2.1 seconds, a 320km/h top speed (up 70km/h from the existing Performance range-topper), and – wait for it – a claimed 840km between charges (against the Model S Performance’s 671km).

Prices start from $189,990 (excluding luxury-car tax and before on-road costs) in Australia, which equates to about $223,718, including luxury-car tax and before on-road costs. That’s $65K over the Performance. Elon resets the EV bar again.

Audi e-tron S - Second half

The ‘S’ in e-tron S stands for sport, meaning it is the performance version of the Ingolstadt company’s first dedicated EV. We’re talking different bumpers with larger air intakes, bigger alloy and wider wheelarches.

Due in the second quarter of 2021 in both wagon and coupe-style Sportback body-styles, the e-tron S features three electric motors, delivering up to 370kW and 973Nm in ‘overboost’ mode, for a 0-100km/h streak of just 4.5 seconds. Conversely, with a 95kWh battery, nearly 360km (WLTP) of driving is possible and a 150kW DC fast charger can replenish to 80 per cent in about 30 minutes.

Sports suspension with adaptive dampers and air springs, bolstered seating and Nappa leather further underline the e-tron S’ performance bend.

BMW iX3 - Mid-2021

Built in China and heavily based on the latest X3 SUV, the iX3 will launch locally in mid-2021, with a single-motor, 210kW/400Nm set-up, for a zero to 100km/h time of 6.8 seconds and 180km/h top speed.

Other key stats are an underfloor 80kWh battery for 460km of driving range (WLTP), up to 80 per cent recharging in 34 minutes using a (still rare) 150kW DC fast charger, while dual-motor versions with higher outputs and all-wheel drive are expected a little later on.

Trainspotters will differentiate iX3 from regular X3 via the former’s aerodynamically honed grille insert and bumpers, restyled alloys and circa-75mm lower ride height.

Nissan Leaf e+ - First half

The long-awaited e+ variant of the Nissan Leaf lands in the first half of 2021 with boosted driving range and performance.

The e+ adds 50kW/20Nm (total: 160kW/340Nm) and a 62kWh lithium-ion battery (+22kWh) for a substantial 115km of extra driving range (to 385km, WLTP), eclipsing those of the Hyundai Ioniq Electric. It’s also 0.6 seconds faster to 100km/h, at 7.3 seconds, while improved driver-assist safety tech and a bigger touchscreen are also expected.

On the flipside, the bigger batteries mean 11.5 hours (+4 hours) to charge from 20 to 80 per cent using an optional 7kW AC wallbox, but a 50kW DC fast charger cuts that to 90 minutes.

Nissan Leaf

Nissan Leaf
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)

Hyundai Ioniq 5 - 2021

Sometime in 2021 we’ll see Hyundai’s “rebirthed” Ioniq as an EV sub-brand, spearheaded by the pretty, new Ioniq 5 mid-size SUV.

A production version of the 45 concept revealed at the 2019 Frankfurt motor show, it will ride on Hyundai’s Electric Global Modular Platform (E-GMP), shared with sister brand Kia. Little is known beyond the general shape, except that it is stated to bring “fast charging capability and plentiful driving range”, according to a statement.

Furthermore, E-GMP allows the 5’s interior to be “reimagined” as a “smart living space”, with features such as drawers for a glovebox. Sounds intriguing. Watch this space.