The past few years have seen the launch of numerous electric vehicles (EVs) and almost as many announcements by governments regarding legislation compelling motorists to switch to more environmentally friendly vehicles. Add to this a change in mindset and attitude as a result of the pandemic and perhaps 2022 could be the year we truly “switch on”.
Of course that depends on where in the world you are. In China, small, cheap EVs are great for city driving and have proven popular there. In many European countries, governments have set deadlines when sales of new cars with internal combustion engines will end. The way we use cars has also changed, making electric and electrified vehicles more viable for many, and this year we will have even more choices.
SA has its challenges in this regard though, not least the availability of electricity. Still, many motorists have been using the BMW i3, the Jaguar I-Pace or the Nissan Leaf for years without issues, and 2022 will provide us with a load of new models.
You don’t have to go all in on electric, thanks to hybrids like those offered by Lexus. If want something that connects to a socket then you’ll be looking at a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). They’ve been around for a while, including versions of the BMW 7-Series and Range Rover and there will be more this year, including the Bentley Flying Spur PHEV, the latest Range Rover and options from Mercedes-Benz.
However, if you are keen to get fully charged, then prepare for a battery of EVs besides the heading our way. The end of 2021 already saw the arrival of the new BMW i4 and iX at the end of 2021.
The i4 is a superb fastback coupe that blends elements of traditional BMW styling with modern EV tech. It’s so good, in fact, that you’ll forget all about the controversial grille.
The iX is unique, from its design to choice of materials and the fabulous curved screens that span the dashboard. Prices for the iX start at R1,650,000.
The iX3 SUV is arriving soon, though it’s more of an electric X3 than a model designed and engineered to be electric. BMW might be switching off the i3 in its current form this year, but the Bavarian automaker has lots more coming as it moves into the electric realm.
Audi, meanwhile, is finally delivering EVs sporting the famous four rings after a couple of years of delays. The E-Tron SUV starts at R1.99m and is available in regular and Sportback guise. It will appeal to those seeking a more traditional Audi SUV look and feel combined with the thrill of instant torque from an electric motor offering up to 300kW as well as a potential range of 441km.
If it’s style and performance you are after, the Audi E-Tron GT and its even faster GT RS sibling that could well grab your attention. Based on the same platform as the Porsche Taycan EV, the E-Tron GT has more dynamic and futuristic looks, and an interior that will feel more familiar to Audi fans. It’s not as precise and dynamic as the Porsche, but with up to 440kW in the GT RS and a range of as much as 488km in the GT, it shows that EVs have not only come a long way in terms of performance and range, but style and sophistication too.
Not to be outdone, Mercedes-Benz has some electric aces up its sleeve. The EQC isn’t great — another example of an electric powertrain quickly packed into an existing model — but a bunch of new models are due in the second quarter that promise to deliver a more exciting and competent package. These include the EQA, the EQB and the luxurious EQE and EQS.
Those are some of the premium models heading our way this year. Volkswagen is considering bringing some of its EVs, which could include the World Car of the Year ID4 and we know of a few other automakers weighing up their options.
None of this means you suddenly have to buy a new electric vehicle; petrol and diesel will be with us for many years and there are always PHEVs for those who aren’t quite ready to go fully electric yet. Moreover, fossil fuels produce most of the power needed for EVs, so it’s valid to question the green credentials of an EV compared with to a traditionally-powered new car.
SA needs to address those issues, as well as those relating to charging infrastructure and the high duties levied on EVs, before the market can really charge up. Still, 2022 is likely to be the year in which EVs become cool, and the focus will be very much on enticing those in the market for a premium or luxury car to plug in to the future.