2020 marked, among many other things, the year when it became apparent that the rise of electric vehicles was inevitable. Some of the world's biggest economies announced plans to ban the sale of new internal-combustion vehicles within a decade's time; some of the world's most notable automakers announced similar plans. And carmakers from Audi to Volkswagen graced us with new EVs that provide ever-more-compelling options that make the pain points of electric vehicle life seem ever more insignificant.
So as a reminder that this year wasn't all bad, we've pulled together a list of the most notable new electric vehicle releases of 2020 for your perusal. Some you may recall; others you might have missed the first time around. But odds are good you'll be seeing more rides like them in the near future.
BMW's EV lineup has been pretty sparse in America, consisting solely of the little-appreciated i3 (and not even every i3, as many have a range-extending gas engine). The X5-sized iX crossover seems much more likely to capture the hearts and minds of modern buyers, with its ample size, impressive power (around 500 horses) and solid range (close to 300 miles). So long, that is, as people can get past its face.
The real Cadillac Lyriq won't look quite as wild as the one seen here — it's the concept car version. But it won't look all that different, either; expect most of the design traits seen here to translate to the production model expected to land in 2022. Also, expect around 300 miles of range and an elegant, tech-packed interior.
Chevrolet K5 Blazer-E
Sadly, you can't buy the K5 Blazer-E in all its glory — but you will be able to build something just like it, which is the real news here. For this year's (virtual) SEMA, Chevy took a 1977 Blazer, ripped out the old engine, and retrofitted it with their "eCrate" motor – the electric motor from the Chevy Bolt EV. As the name would have you think, GM will be selling the EV powertrain as a package through its parts division, like any other crate motor; the “Electric Connect and Cruise” package should be available in 2021.
Electric vehicles have plenty of advantages over internal-combustion cars, but one of the least-appreciated might be their modularity. Perhaps no vehicle looks to take better advantage of that than the eBussy — a teeny-tiny electric vehicle that can be a van, a dump truck, a panel truck, a two- or four-door pickup or a camper van. Plus, many of those come in off-road forms. There's not a lot of power and it can't go very fast (you won't hit 30 mph), but if you're okay with that, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more versatile runabout.
GMC Hummer EV
Yes, Hummer is back, but not like you've ever seen it. For starters, the new Hummer will be a GMC; the bigger news, though, is that it'll be all-electric. Launching as a four-door pickup truck in 2021, the carmaker says it'll pack around 350 miles of range, a removable roof, off-road capabilities to rival a Jeep Wrangler, and the ability to run from 0-60 mph in a claimed three seconds. The future rocks.
When this cool-looking e-bike launched, we described it as "one of the least e-bikey e-bikes ever." You probably wouldn't know it's an e-bike at first glance, the design hides it so well; battery, motor and controls are all hidden in the rear hub. It's light, though, which means that small battery can still help you travel up to 55 miles at up to 19 mph.
The Lucid Air is, at its core, a car out to outdo the Tesla Model S in every way. It was created by that car's designer, and it indeed boasts an elegant, futuristic design both inside and out. It's far more luxurious inside than a Tesla, and goes at least as far, if not farther, on a charge — simulated EPA testing revealed a real-world range of 517 miles under good conditions. And it runs sub-10-second quarter miles and can top out north of 200 mph. Tesla, of course, is already fighting back — but that doesn't diminish the Lucid Air's coolness.
Americans (and many other people around the globe) crave crossovers, but so far, there haven't been many EV options in that category. Nissan's new Ariya promises to help fill that gap: it's a two-row, five-passenger SUV that should do up to 300 miles on a charge — and, in 389 horsepower / 441 lb-ft AWD form, ought to be quick enough to outrun most other SUVs in a straight line.
Polestar's first car, the 1, is very cool — what with its gorgeous carbon fiber body and potent plug-in hybrid powertrain — but it's not truly indicative of where the Volvo spinoff is planning to go. That, of course, is into pure electric mobility — which is what the Polestar 2 that went on sale this year does very well. Think of it as a Tesla Model 3 with Swedish techo-chic style.
Porsche's first electric car went on sale abroad last year, but it only reached American shores in 2020. It's a taste of the future we can't help but want more of; after all, not only does it look wildly exotic and drive like a Porsche, it makes as much as 750 horsepower.
Rad Power Bikes RadMission
Rad Power Bikes had a big 2020, rolling out one great deal of a versatile e-bike after another. But the most notable of them has to be the RadMission, which is an e-bike on, well, a mission: make obtaining an e-bike more affordable than ever. This single-speed bike is lighter than most of Rad's wares, yet still goes up to 50 miles on a charge at up to 20 mph, and packs beefy tires and an aggressive frame that could make it great for urban use. The best part, though: it's really freakin' affordable.
Segway eMoped C80
Forget all the usual Segway cliches: the brand's new eMoped C80 is a sleek, stylish two-wheeled all-electric conveyance that banishes the stigma around Segways and mopeds. It can travel up to 50 miles on a charge and hit 20 mph on battery power, but when that runs out, there's still a pair of pedals in reserve for manual mobility. Plus, those pedals make it an e-bike, legally speaking, so you don't need a license to ride it in most parts of the U.S.
Harley's first electric two-wheeler, the LiveWire, is a badass battery-powered beast of a motorcycle. Their new Serial1 sub-brand, though, takes two-wheeled electric mobility in a very different direction: into e-bikes. Named after H-D's first bike, these e-bikes come in different styles and ranges, based on your needs; one thing they all share, however, are their very cool looks.
Tesla Model S Plaid
Tesla has long promised that there would be a car with performance to humble even their "Ludicrous Mode," and this year, they finally gave us a sense what that will look like with the announcement of the Model S Plaid. Think: three electric motors making more than 1,100 horsepower, a sub-2.0-second 0-60 mph dash, a sub 9.0-second quarter mile, and the ability to keep up wit supercars on track, at least for a while. We'll see it in finished form, ideally, in 2021...but you can reserve one now.
Twisted Automotive Land Rover Defender Tempest
The original Land Rover Defender might not seem like an obvious candidate for EV conversion, but when you think about it, it makes all the sense in the world. Most O.G. Defenders these days are used as around-town playthings, be it in chic beach towns or rural communities, which means range anxiety isn't an issue. Ample low-end torque is perfect for off-roading, and no emissions means no nasty smells entering with the top down. Twisted's conversions keep the low-range 4WD, too, ensuring they lose nothing in capability.
2020 marked the arrival of the first products in Volkswagen's massive push into electric vehicles. In Europe, that's the ID.3 hatchback — but since Americans hate hatchbacks, we're starting out with the ID.4 crossover instead. It's a just-right-sized vehicle for many of us, packing 250 miles of range and the ability to take on 60 miles of charge in just 10 minutes. Oh, and it's affordable, too.
Zero Motorcycle / Polaris partnership
Polaris and the electric vehicle wizards at Zero Motorcycles are teaming up to bring the wonders of electric mobility to the world of powersports. Think: silent snowmobiles, emissions-free side-by-sides, and so forth. The first examples will hit the ground (or snow) next year, with more to come over the next decade.