This story is part of our end-of-year series This Year in Gear, rounding up the most notable releases of 2021.
2021 was a landmark year for electric vehicles. Many brands made bold pledges to go 100% electric by 2030 or at least come close to it. Absolutely game-changing new vehicles have entered the market on dedicated EV platforms. And the key problem for manufacturers seems to be not whether buyers want EVs but whether they can build enough of them to meet demand. Even longtime EV skeptic Toyota has revealed some wild battery-electric plans.
Starting from a clean sheet of paper meant Rivian could think about things differently than other carmakers, unburdened by existing platforms or parts or suppliers or architectures. There's one electric motor per wheel — twice the number most all-wheel-drive electric cars boast. Not only does the EV design mean there's room for a frunk big enough to hide a person where an ICE motor would go, but the Rivian R1T squeezed in a hidden pass-through between cabin and bed that's big enough to hide a second human — and added yet another space under the bed floor to stash a full-size spare.
Ford F-150 Lightning
Automotive manufacturers have been offering different takes on the electric pickup. Rivian built a lux adventure vehicle. GM went for pricey, all-out performance. Tesla did...well, whatever the Cybertruck is going to be. Ford has taken a different tack with the F-150 Lightning: It’s the F-150 Americans love, just electric and with some cool features the standard truck does not have. And they gave us a ride in it.
Ford Mustang Mach E
Brush aside those zealots screaming heresy, and the idea of making a Mustang Mach E electric SUV works from a business perspective. After all, electric cars will only succeed if the masses can be persuaded to trade their gas-powered rides away, and the best way to do that is to make EVs cool. The Mustang has cool to spare.
Few cars are quite as much of an investment in tomorrow as the Mercedes-EQS sedan. This new luxury car isn't the first electric vehicle to ever wear a three-pointed star, but it may well be the most important yet. After all, it's the first new car to use Mercedes-Benz's bespoke EV platform, which will serve as the foundation for most the automaker's onslaught of new electric vehicles
Averaging just 14 mpg combined, the Gelandewagen is one of the worst-polluting passenger vehicles on sale in America. That, however, is about to change. Mercedes is launching a "G" sub-brand, much like Ford has done with the Bronco and Mustang...and part of that G-Class future will be an electric version dubbed the Concept EQG.
Audi Q4 E-tron
Audi unveiled the E-tron a couple of years back. It was a good car. But, it was just the beginning. Audi unveiled the Q4 E-Tron and Q4 Sportback E-Tron SUVs, which slot below the E-Tron. They're smaller, but they cost less, are more efficient — and should better capture the U.S. market. And they could be Audi's most important new cars.
Audi E-Tron GT
At first, the Audi E-Tron GT's name might lead you to believe it's a version of the E-Tron all-electric crossover. Alas, your gut would be misleading you. The E-Tron GT is, in fact, an entirely separate model — a low-slung sedan with the looks of a sports car concept. And unlike the E-Tron SUV — which can easily be confused for one of Audi's other, internal-combustion crossovers at a glance —once you see it, there's no mistaking the E-Tron GT for anything other than what it is.
In May, we found out that Harley-Davidson planned to branch LiveWire out into an independent, partially Silicon Valley-based electric motorcycle startup. Their first bike will be called the LiveWire One, which makes a dramatic departure from HD's Serial 1 electric bicycle by spelling out the number. It offers impressive range and an impressive discount over the original LiveWire.
Porsche Taycan GTS
GTS means this is one of the company's Goldilocks models, which balance all-around performance against price to create one of the better bargains in the Porsche fleet; and Sport Turismo means it's a station wagon, not to be confused with the ostensibly soft-roader-esque Cross Turismo models. Putting it simply: it's an electric sport wagon that's mean to be a ton of fun to drive.
Hyundai Ioniq 5
Hyundai revealed its eagerly anticipated Ioniq 5 EV this year. It's not the first electric car to come from Hyundai; the brand already sells the Ioniq EV (which, confusingly, is unrelated to the Ioniq 5) and the Kona EV — but it is the first of three new cars launching under Hyundai's new Ioniq sub-brand. And it brings
Like much of the automotive world today, Kia is going in hot and heavy on electric vehicles. The brand's newest one is called the EV6, which rides on the same E-GMP platform as the Hyundai Ioniq 5 — and as we're learning, it's a far cry from the staid Niro EV that currently makes up the heart of the Kia electric lineup.
Subaru unveiled its first electric vehicle: the Solterra. The Solterra is a compact crossover twinned with Toyota's first EV, the bZ4X. On paper, it looks like the vehicle many Subaru customers will want: a familiar-feeling Subaru crossover that just so happens to be electric.
The i4 is a classic BMW sedan (or, as they like to describe its swoopy shape, a four-door gran coupé) that has 530 horsepower, can accelerate from 0-60 mph in about four seconds and appears to be supremely competent on track. Basically, we're talking about an electric version of the new M3.
GMC Hummer EV SUV
GMC promises up to 830 horsepower for the Hummer EV SUV, and a 3.5-second 0-60 mph acceleration time when Watts to Freedom mode is "armed." Though highly impressive, that's a bit less than the 1,000 hp and 3.0-second figures for the Hummer EV SUT.
Jeep Wrangler Magneto
As promised, the Magneto is an all-electric Jeep Wrangler, and it's electric in a way that Wrangler traditionalists will love. It's a two-door model — and it has a functional six-speed manual transmission.
Genesis described the GV60 as a "sleek and athletic coupé crossover utility vehicle" (we'd also accept fancy hatchback). The brand revealed some more specifics about the new electric SUV, including a top model with nearly 500 horsepower and a drift mode.
Genesis Electrified GV70
The name is, admittedly, confusing. Most manufacturers use "electrified" to describe hybrid vehicles — but for Genesis, electrified means an electric version of a combustion car. Genesis already launched the new GV70 compact crossover in the U.S. for 2022; the Electrified GV70 is the battery-electric version of it, running on the same platform.
To hear Volkswagen tell the tale, the new ID.4 electric crossover (or, in foreign markets, the closely related ID.3 hatchback) is the biggest thing for the brand since the Beetle. Not the New Beetle with the flower vase, mind you — the original Beetle, the one that sold more than 21 million copies over more than 60 years and set the stage for Ferdinand Porsche's "people's car" project to eventually become one of the world's largest automotive conglomerates.
Canoo Electric Pickup
Canoo is calling its electric pickup "the most cab forward and space-efficient" truck on the market, and the preliminary specs impress. Canoo's truck will come in both single- and dual-motor versions; the most capable will pack 600 horsepower and 550 lb-ft of torque. The truck will be able to accommodate a 1,800-pound payload; the target range is north of 200 miles. It will be the same approximate height and width of a Ford F-150, but more than two feet shorter than the smallest version — and with a longer bed, to boot.