When you think of electric cars, the first maker to come to mind is probably Tesla. The company has done an amazing job branding itself as the leader in vehicles powered by electrons. With sexy car designs, lots of media coverage and a personable-yet-eccentric CEO, Tesla has become the gold standard in electric vehicles.
That doesn’t mean Tesla is alone, though.
Other carmakers build and sell vehicles that use alternative fuels, and there’s no way the legacy automakers are going to sit down and watch Tesla silently drive into the sunset with all the cash.
From the big boys to some small guys with big ideas, it seems EVs are here to stay. Keep reading for some interesting competitors Tesla may face.
From the Legacy Automakers
Despite a stunningly offensive TV ad, the ELR has some legs. It’s exceptionally expensive at over $80,000, while the Tesla Model S starts at about $63,000, but it offers buyers the comfort of a gas engine should the batteries die far from home. Its range in all-electric mode is only 37 miles, while the Tesla can deliver up to 300. For the final nail, the ELR looks like a Volt in Caddy clothes. That’s not a bad thing, but when compared against the sleek Model S, it looks chunky and outdated. Winner: Tesla.
The Leaf is probably the most familiar and consumer-friendly EV on the market. The 4-door hatchback has sold very well, has a range of about 80 miles and seats 4 people comfortably. Beginning at under $30,000, this is the EV for the mass market. Winner: Leaf.
Fuel-cell vehicles from Honda and Toyota
The possibility of running a car on hydrogen is incredibly appealing. With zero emissions and no plugging in to an electrical outlet, this seems like the way to go. However, the technology is far from ready for public use and currently limited to fleet leases. Reuters says both companies plan to launch fuel-cell vehicles to consumers in 2015, but they’re sure to be expensive, and there’s no national infrastructure in place to refuel them. Tesla faced a similar problem, but went and built its own. Winner: Tesla
From Small Automakers
With its Tango, Commuter Cars wants to solve two problems at once: pollution and congestion. The all-electric 2-seater is only 39 inches wide, meaning 2 cars can fit in a single lane. Sure, you can drive a Tesla and not spend a penny on gas, but you’ll get just as stuck in LA traffic backups. In a Tango, just split the lanes and silently zoom toward home. Plus, it’ll zip from 0-60 in just 3.5 seconds and has a range of about 150 miles. When these are mass-produced, Tesla will have a real contender. Winner: Commuter Cars
This company made some waves a couple of years ago and is still selling electric cars. Also a 2-seater, the Wheego uses the body of a Chinese smart fortwo knockoff. It has a range of about 70 miles, but the top speed is just 65 mph. It’s not particularly pleasant to drive and costs just over $30,000. Even the Leaf wins this battle. Winner: Tesla
What car, if any, would you pick over a Tesla?