A guide to new luxury electric cars for the 2014 and 2015 model years, as seen at the 2014 Portland International Auto Show.
The electric car segment, which includes hybrids, plug-ins and EVs, is growing at an exponential rate with each passing model year. These vehicles offer all kinds of benefits to their drivers, including limited-to-no trips to the gas station, federal tax rebates and incentives and a reduction of harmful emissions. The groundbreaking Toyota Prius has been leading the electric/hybrid revolution for over a decade, with impressive sales figures that have had every other major automaker licking their chops to get in on this new wave of automobile.
Now, virtually every car manufacturer offers a hybrid and electric lineup, or at least a new package for existing even models. It has birthed a new market segment: The luxury electric car. The new luxury electric cars for 2014 and 2015 are some of the best and most unique vehicles yet, and even Cadillac (yes, Cadillac) is getting into the electric car action.
New electric cars for 2014 and 2015 at the Portland Auto Show
This year's Portland International Auto Show placed a heavy emphasis on electrics, hybrids and other fuel-alternative vehicles. This might not come as a surprise, given Portland's reputation as an environmentally conscious, bicyle-riding, bottle-recycling, organic-food-eating hippy playground.
Placed prominently among the new Corvettes and Ford F-150s of the world was the Clean Tech Center, with innovative and cutting-edge technology from leading automakers like Toyota, Honda, Chevy and BMW. The Clean Tech Center also featured charging stations from Shorepower, Eaton, Blink and AeroVironment, a sign of things to come as more charging stations pop up all across the country.
But perhaps the most interesting exhibit at the entire auto show was the indoor test drive track for the brand-spanking new BMW i3. Called the Born Electric Ride, patrons could finally get inside this electric luxury vehicle that carries a six-month waiting list for new orders.
Of course, you don't have to be from Portland to be interested in what's going on with the latest electric cars and luxury electric cars. As automakers flood the market with new electric and alternative-fuel vehicles, and as charging stations become increasingly common in most markets, now more than ever is the best time to join the electric car revolution. This guide will feature in detail some of the most unique and groundbreaking new electric cars for 2014 and 2015, as on display at the Portland International Auto Show.
Let's start with the most anticipated and most-talked-about car at the entire show. Yes, even more so than the $1 million in Ferrari's and the $400,000 Rolls Royce Phantom. BMW is no stranger to the hybrid game, offering the wildly popular ActiveHybrid package across its entire lineup, but the i3 is BMW's first foray into the electric segment. And it's drawing substantial interest and praise.
The i3 is part of BMW's "Project i" that is being launched as part of the BMW i brand, to go along with the X and M, etc. While a luxury electric car may seem like a novel concept, the popularity of the BMW i3 will certainly bring about a wave of competing vehicles from Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Lexus.
The i3 can drive 80 to 100 miles on a single charge, with charges taking only 30 minutes. With this efficiency, and the increasing number of charging stations popping up everywhere, it'd be no sweat to drive the i3 across country without spending a dime on gas.
Of course, it's not always convenient finding a charging station, especially in unfamiliar areas. Gas stations still vastly outnumber charging stations in this country, which is why the BMW i3 is available with a range extender option powered by a two-cylinder engine with a 2.4 gallon gas tank. This "REx" gas option switches on when the batter level drops to a certain level and acts as a generator that can produce electricity until you have an opportunity to recharge.
The BMW i3 is not only the first all-electric car produced by BMW, it is also the first mass-produced car to be entirely constructed of carbon fiber. While many exotic and performance cars have featured carbon fiber body panels, no car has ever had a completely carbon fiber body shell. And while an elite automaker like BMW adopting an all-electric model is an important step forward for the electric car, the i3's all-carbon fiber construction may be the catalyst to a future industry standard.
Certainly, the BMW i3 luxury electric car is important and will eventually find a home on many different driveways, but its price point is still a concern. As a direct competitor to the Chevy Volt and Nissan LEAF, the BMW i3's $41,350 price tag is pretty steep for many car-buyers who may be interested in an electric car. Of course, there's the undeniable pull of driving a BMW that will have some car-buyers glancing past that big price tag.
So Cadillac, historically known for producing behemoth boats with fuel economy ratings you could count on one hand, is rolling out an all-electric sedan? The automotive market, and the world as a whole, is truly changing. Yes, the Cadillac ELR is Cadillac's introduction into the blossoming luxury electric car market, and it's not a bad effort if you can look past the gaudy price tag.
As Cadillac's most prized showing at the Portland International Auto Show, The ELR was first met with puzzlement ("Wait, isn't Cadillac excess the reason why electrics are becoming popular?"), then intrigue ("You mean I can look cool driving in an electric car?"). As the old saying goes, the ELR is the Cadillac of electric cars. It's a luxury coupe with gorgeous lines and a mean look.
Nobody is going to confuse the ELR with a Nissan LEAF, but the question remains: what kind of car buyer looking for an electric would buy a Cadillac, and what kind of buyer looking for a Cadillac would buy an electric?
The answer is anybody looking to buy a Tesla Model S or a Porsche Panamera plug-in hybrid. These luxury electric cars are rapidly growing in popularity, and Cadillac, with the help of Chevy Volt technology, is throwing its hat in the ring. The ELR's base engine is a 154-hp DOHC gasoline generator engine, with a total system output of 207 horsepower. The ELR gets an equivalent of 95 mpg in all electric mode and 35 mpg in gas-only for a combined 60 mpg combined.
The Cadillac ELR price starts at $75,000, which is a punch in the gut to virtually any budget. But considering the luxurious features and the federal, state and local incentives, it might be worth it to some buyers. Government incentives can knock $10,000 off the price tag, making it a more reasonable buy.
The Cadillac ELR and BMW i3 are just two of the latest luxury electric cars ready to hit the market and take hold of the market the Tesla S virtually invented. A luxury electric car is a niche product, hoping to find the sweet spot between those who demand the premium features and performance of a luxury car, with the staggering fuel economy and environmental consciousness of an electric vehicle.
As the six month waiting list for the new BMW i3 suggests, there are plenty of car buyers looking for all these qualities, with the money to afford them. Use Reply! to connect with local dealers who can offer the lowest price quotes on these two models and other luxury electric cars.