Top 10 Electric Cars to Buy in 2018

  • 8 February 2018
  • Damon Lapping

Few people know this interesting fact, the electric car was actually the first car invented. It was invented before the internal combustion engine car in the 1830’s by a Scotsman. A few years later another Scotsman in the US developed the rechargeable battery for the electric car. The combustions engine car was developed much later though and at the time proved to be a lot more practical and efficient than the electric car. Hence the combustion engine car became the norm for modern transport. However fast forward a 100 years later and we are faced with major challenges such as peak oil and the burning of fossils causing global warming. So the electric car has been revitalised and with major advances in energy storage been made, it’s once again becoming a viable solution. Till now the main challenge with electric cars has been the distance it can travel on a single battery charge and the amount of time it takes to charge the battery. New energy storage technologies are however tackling these challenges head on. Here are the Top 10 Electric Car Companies that are disrupting the traditional combustion engine car.

Volkswagen e-Golf

The Golf has always been a popular car globally since the 1970’s, VW has now launched and an electric version of the Golf. It’s been promoted as a city run around car but what makes this electric car unique?

Apart from the normal standard technologies, the car has a 35.8 kWh lithium-ion power source with a 7.7 kW DC battery charger. Once fully charged the car has an estimated range of 125 miles before being needed to be recharged.

The car also makes use regenerative braking technology, whenever you brake the energy is recovered and used to charge the batteries. It also has a 100 kW or 134 HP electric motor. Using a rapid charging point, the car’s lithium-ion batteries can be recharged to 80% capacity in half an hour. It has a top speed of 85 mph and can reach 60 mph in 9.3 seconds.


Tesla Model 3

Tesla designed the world's first ever premium all-electric sedan from the ground up – Model S Roadster back in 2008, even then using the latest battery technology available. Fast forward to 2018, Tesla is launching the third model.

The Tesla Model 3 is an all-electric four-door luxury sedan, within days of its release there were already 325 000 orders placed! The standard battery model using a 35 kWh Lithium-Ion battery pack has a fully charged range of 220 Miles.

The long-range battery model has a fully charged range of 310 Miles with a 75 kWh Lithium-Ion battery pack. The standard range model has a top speed of 130 mph, whilst the later has a top speed of 140 mph. The battery can be charged up to 80% capacity in half an hour giving the standard model a range of 130 miles. Tesla has been developing self-driving car technology but in this model, it’s only used for active safety measures.


Chevrolet Bolt EV

The Chevrolet Bolt EV, a fully electric vehicle won the US Car of the Year Award for 2017. The Bolt EV is also being marketed as a city run around car. With the average daily round-trip commute being 40 miles, this put’s the Bolt’s EV range of 238 miles quite impressive.

It has a 60 kWh Lithium Ion battery and a 200 HP motor. Accelerates from 0-60 mph in 6.5 seconds too and has 7.2 kW built-in high voltage charger. Efficiency and range of the vehicle is improved by a feature called One-Pedal driving, energy loss is limited when driving in Low mode at any speed and by limiting the use of the brakes.


Nissan LEAF

Nissan is the sales leader in delivering affordable pure electric cars, that really enters into the realm of becoming more mainstream.

The LEAF is a 5-door, 5-seat hatchback and also marketed as a city run around car. It has a 100-mile range but there’s a newer model coming out with a 200-mile range soon. It boats a 30 kWh Lithium Ion battery, 107 HP motor and a 6.6 Kw onboard charger.

The LEAF also features regenerative braking technology that captures energy while you coast or brake, and recycles it back to the power supply.


BMW i3

The BMW i3 is the 4th best-selling pure electric car in the US. It’s revolutionary in terms of car development in that it’s body is made entirely from Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic, making it 50% lighter than steel.

This makes the car ultra-light without compromising safety and improves the efficiency of the car, therefore the car can travel greater distances on a single charge. It goes to 0 to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds and 80% of the vehicle is made from recycled materials.

The i3 can also be driven with a single pedal for acceleration and when released, brake regeneration kicks in. While you’re coasting or slowing down, kinetic energy is converted to battery charge, increasing efficiency and overall range. It has a 33 kWh Lithium-Ion battery with a top speed of 93 mph and a 114-mile range.


Ford Focus

Ford has developed a pure electric version of their combustion engine Ford Focus. The car features a 33.5 kWh Lithium Ion battery and a 107 KW motor with a top range of 115 miles.

With a 5.5-hour charge time using the built-in AC charger in a standard wall socket. The car also includes regenerative braking technology that captures energy whilst braking and uses it to charge the Lithium-ion batteries.

The car also includes unique software known as the brake coach that aids the driver in how to brake efficiently and therefore maximise energy transfer to the Lithium Ion batteries.


Toyota Mirai

Toyota seems to be taking a different direction with the clean fuel car revolution, instead of investing in battery technology they are investing in the hydrogen fuel cell as the main power source.

The Toyota Mirai uses hydrogen fuel cell technology. Hydrogen is a volatile substance, so it’s stored in carbon fiber reinforced fuel tanks in the car. So how does it work? Hydrogen travels from the tanks to the fuel cell stack. There, it goes through a chemical reaction involving the oxygen in the air taken from the exterior, creating electricity to power the vehicle. Whenever you accelerate electricity is taken from the fuel cell to drive the electric motor.

The only by-product is water, and this is leaves through the tailpipe. It takes about 5 minutes to fill up the tanks with hydrogen and has a cruising range of 312 miles. The car also has special safety features in case of an accident that will shut off the supply of hydrogen, making it a completely safe mode of travel and environmentally friendly.


Kia Soul EV

Kia has an electric SUV called the Soul EV with a 27 kWh Lithium Ion Polymer battery as it’s power source. It has a city range of 120 miles, highway range of 93 miles and combined range of 105 miles.

The car has a 109 HP electric motor with regenerative braking technology to enhance the efficiency of the battery system.

The Kia Soul EV also has three different types of battery charging systems ranging from 24 hours at home for a full charge to a Level 2 charge that takes around 4 and a half hours to half an hour using a rapid charge facility, also known as a Level 3 charge.


Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Car

Mercedes-Benz pioneered its first electric car in 1906 and has been advancing alternative fuels ever since, a 100 years later it’s developed the all-electric B250e.

It features a 177 HP motor with an acceleration of 1 to 60 mph in 7.9 seconds.

The electric motor is powered by a 27kWh Lithium-ion battery and the car has a range of 87 miles.


Honda Clarity

The Honda Clarity is another commercially available Hydrogen Fuel Cell car.

The technology behind the Hydrogen Fuel Cell version uses air to create a chemical reaction when mixed with Hydrogen, this creates electricity that is used to power the electric motor.

The car has a 366-mile range on a single tank of Hydrogen and has a 103-kW motor. The Honda Clarity goes 0 to 60 mph in 8.1 seconds with a top speed of 105 mph. Honda also has a Lithium-ion battery powered version and gasoline version of the same model.

About Damon Lapping

Damon is an experienced energy management consultant, passionate about sustainable energy. He provides Energy Management and Resource Efficiency consulting services to the UNIDO NCPC (National Cleaner Production Center) program being rolled out to developing countries. In the past he was involved in Africa’s largest utility, Eskom’s Demand Side Management program in the corporate sector. He also provides sustainable energy consulting services to clients globally. He currently lives in Cape Town, South Africa.