It’s official: For the first time ever, sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and crossover utility vehicles (CUVs) have overtaken sedans in U.S. market share. Though it has seemed like a big car country for over a decade, it has not been a reality until IHS Automotive’s roundup of Polk auto registration data of market share through May 2014.
So where are the electric SUVs? Since most automakers have trouble building (or minimal interest in) electric vehicles of any class, it isn’t surprising the electric utility vehicle market is lacking. At present, only a few EV adopters on the West Coast could get their hands on the all-electric RAV4 EV from Toyota. In the coming years, that will change, whether it represents automakers playing to the U.S. marketplace or complying with the emissions standards of the country’s biggest auto buying state, California.
Either way, the options in electric vehicles in the SUV and CUV segment will be much more plentiful in the coming years. Here are seven electric models expected to hit the the U.S. in coming years.
1. 2015 Kia Soul EV
The Kia Soul EV may not have the muscle or range of a Tesla, but the funky Korean crossover should have a big audience with its estimated 92 miles of electric range and 210 lb-ft of torque, not to mention its rapid charger said to take 25 minutes for 80 percent of battery power. As with the K900 and other models, Kia will find its comfort zone by delivering value to consumers who want a practical solution in an expensive segment.
Unlike some cars on the horizon from different automakers, the Kia Soul EV is already being produced around the world. It is expected to go on sale in fall 2014 in the U.S.
2. BMW X5 eDRIVE
Now that Tesla has proven just how popular green cars can be with the well-off set, German luxury automakers are entering the picture with more than California compliance cars. The BMW X5 eDRIVE certainly fits the bill as a plug-in version of the luxurious X5 SUV from the automaker. More i8 than i3, the X5 eDRIVE can cover about 20 miles on electric power, according to Autoweek testers. Power quotes are impressive at 270 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque.
Efficiency is expected to be well over 40 mpg (and far less than the 61 mpg it received on European cycles). Of course, the all-electric option will allow drivers full EV (non-gasoline) capabilities. Production is expected in 2015.
3. Volvo XC90 Plug-in Hybrid
Volvo describes its upcoming XC90 as the “world’s most powerful and cleanest SUV” in an early July press release. With 400 hp, 472 lb-ft of torque, and 25 miles of pure electric capability, the automaker certainly has a case to make. Utilizing the Drive-E powetrains that have boosted efficiency and power in other models, Volvo plans to run out this impressive concept as a production model in late 2014, with release set for mid-2015.
4. Tesla Model X
Tesla certainly has the most hype (and investor apprehension) surrounding the release of its first utility vehicle, the very attractive Model X. Falcon wing doors, electric range over 200 miles, and a 0-60 mph time under 5.0 seconds all point to a groundbreaking vehicle (EV or otherwise) when it hits the market in 2015. The Model X will be pricey like the Model S while maintaining the zero-tailpipe emissions, high-performance standards of its predecessor. Expect wild demand for this all-electric crossover.
5. Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell
Technically, the Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell EV is available in Southern California to a limited number of drivers. Hyrdogen fueling infrastructure is far from widespread, so Hyundai (as well as Toyota and Honda) will have a small market for its fuel cell cars in the foreseeable future.
Nonetheless, Hyundai claims it would expand the availability of its electric crossover to other U.S. markets if it could. It gets a range of 265 miles, which puts it on par with the top performing EV from Tesla, so it clearly would have a wide audience. Questions about the overall emissions of hydrogen vehicles have cast doubt on the sustainability benefits of hydrogen cars, though boosters expect improvements to come with increased scale.
6. Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid
The Mitsubishi Outlander plug-in hybrid is selling in Europe, Australia, and Japan, yet it hasn’t made its U.S. debut due to California regulatory issues. This problem has set the SUV’s release date back to late 2015 or early 2016. According to Green Car Reports, the Outlander plug-in’s electric range is over 32 miles on the European cycle, which likely places it in the high twenties by U.S. standards. That would be a lot of trips to the store or picking up the kids from school.
7. Volkswagen Crossblue SUV
Volkswagen has its e-Golf headed for U.S. shores in late 2014, but on July 14 the automaker announced it will produce the Crossblue utility vehicle at its Chattanooga plant. Originally showcased as a plug-in concept in 2013, the first Crossblue had twin electric motors and diesel power producing 305 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. Electric range was about 15 miles.
Since production is slated for 2016, it is reasonable to expect a plug-in version of the Crossblue, though Volkswagen did not get into specifics. SUVs are certainly making their mark in the U.S. Any hybrid model with a reasonable price tag would present the automaker with an opportunity to head off some German competition on U.S. shores.