Automakers Try to Broaden EV Appeal by Emphasizing Performance

can be reached at
can be reached at
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pocket

Who says battery-cars have to be slow and stodgy? Some of the latest EVs are delivering performance rivaling the world’s most powerful supercars.

  • Electric motors deliver instant torque, translating into neck-snapping launches.
  • A wave of battery-powered supercars will be coming to market over the next 24 months.
  • Even relatively mainstream PHEVs and BEVs will surprise buyers with their performance.

Punching out an astounding 1,972 hp, the new Lotus Evija will be one of the most powerful automobiles ever built, easily capable of hitting 60 in less than 3 seconds, while topping out at more than 200 mph.

We should also mention that the British hypercar happens to be all-electric, delivering about 250 miles per charge when driven a little less aggressively.

Early EVs, like the Nissan Leaf, traded performance off for energy efficiency. (Photo: Nissan)

When the Nissan Leaf launched a decade ago, becoming the first relatively high-volume battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, the focus was on energy efficiency. The same was true with conventional hybrids like the Toyota Prius and plug-in hybrids, or PHEVs, such as the Chevrolet Volt. But, in their push to take “electrification” into the mainstream, manufacturers are trying to broaden the appeal by playing up performance, as well.

That shouldn’t really be a surprise, says Sam Abuelsamid, a principal analyst with Navigant Research. “Electric motors deliver maximum torque the moment they start spinning,” he explains. Give them enough power and they can readily outperform a traditional gasoline motor.

Tesla was the first automaker to focus on performance with the introduction of its Ludicrous Mode. Equipped with that option its Model S sedan could launch from 0 to 60 in about 2.3 seconds. To put that into perspective, that’s within a tenth of a second of what the Dodge Demon Challenger, the most powerful factory-built V8 ever, could manage.

Tesla RoadsterTesla was the first EV maker to really emphasize performance with its Ludicrous Mode. It intends to take things to a new level with the upcoming Roadster. (Photo: Tesla)

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has hinted the upcoming, second-generation Roadster will break the 2 second barrier, with a top speed of 200 mph. And, if you’re so inclined, he claims a prototype managed to blast through the traps on a quarter-mile run in just 8.9 seconds.

Those are numbers even the best Ferraris and McLarens struggle to meet. But Tesla’s next-gen two-seater will have plenty of challengers, including not just the Lotus Evija but the Pininfarina Battista and the next all-electric offering from Croatian EV supercar manufacturer Remac.

Now, only the most wealthy motorists will be able to afford products like these. The good news, is that even as you slide down the price ladder, there are plenty of new EVs – either in showrooms or in the works – delivering eye-popping performance.

Ford’s Mach E shows that performance EVs can be priced closer to the mainstream. (Photo: Paul A. Eisenstein/

The “base” Porsche Taycan 4S will hit 60 in just 3.8 seconds with, at a starting price of $103,800 , though the Taycan Turbo S will cut that to 2.6 seconds — at nearly $200,000 fully loaded.

The new Ford Mustang Mach E takes electric performance more mainstream. “Our base model (at a planned $45,000) will be faster than a base Porsche Macan (SUV) and close to the Macan Turbo,” which can hit 60 in 4.1 seconds, powertrain chief Ron Heiser told Ride ahead of the all-electric SUV’s debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The Mach-E GT, meanwhile, “will be within spitting distance of a Porsche 911 GTS,” which sprints to 60 in about just over three seconds.

The Detroit automaker originally planned to market a less sporty BEV but decided it just wouldn’t generate much in the way of sales. “Selling electrification on just fuel efficiency is not going to pay out when gas is going for $2.50 a gallon,” added Ford Executive Vice President Hau Thai-Tang. Pushing performance, he and others are betting, will significantly broaden the appeal.

And it’s not just all-electric models that are getting muscled up. Take the new Toyota RAV4 Prime. The new plug-in hybrid will become “the most powerful and quickest RAV4 ever,” Toyota boasts. The same is true of the Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring, the PHEV version of the big three-row SUV.


Driving up performance has become easier as lithium-ion batteries get lighter, more powerful – and less expensive. That also translates into longer range when the vehicle is being driven less aggressively. Automakers are betting that by emphasizing the “fun-to-drive” factor, as well as the environmentally friendly aspect of their new EVs, they’ll reach a more mainstream audience.

About the Author

can be reached at
Close Menu

We use cookies and browser activity to improve your experience, personalize content and ads, and analyze how our sites are used. For more information on how we collect and use this information, please review our Privacy Policy. California consumers may exercise their CCPA rights here.