Three Upcoming Electric Cars That Might Not Be On Your EV Radar


Don’t look now. But Mazda, Jeep, and Subaru have EVs in the works.

We know which companies are leading the electric car revolution. Yadda, yadda. But if you want to know when the EV tipping point is approaching, keep your eyes on the EV laggards. It’ll indeed be a new day for vehicle emissions when every single dealership showroom in America has a pure EV model for sale.

With that in mind, ponder a future in which even Mazda, Jeep, and Subaru offer electric vehicles. These lively automotive brands are mostly quiet  these days about EVs. But based on recent evidence, that’s changing slowly but surely.

An All-Electric Mazda

Mazda’s European chief Jeff Guyton told Automotive News in December that “a battery-electric vehicle will come in 2020 and a plug-in hybrid will arrive in 2021.”

He explained that the EV launching in 2020 would use Mazda’s own technology. Mazda also has a partnership with Toyota to develop electric platforms. That tie-up will result in additional Mazda EVs “a couple of years later,” according to Guyton.

At the recent 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show, Ikuo Maeda, Mazda’s design chief, said that the upcoming all-electric model would have a unique aesthetic. In other words, it won’t be based on an existing model.

Thankfully, Maeda said it would not be geeky or weird. “I hate that direction, and I won’t aim for that.” Other reports suggest the model would be a crossover and not a sports car. (Sorry, no electric Miata derivative.) Regardless, there’s something in the works at Mazda, despite disparaging remarks from Mazda president Akira Marumoto. At the LA show, he said, “I prefer the smell of gasoline.”

Four Electric Jeeps on the Way

It’s known that Jeep is planning a plug-in hybrid version of the Wrangler for 2020—and a Renegade plug-in hybrid by about 2022.

But Mike Manley, chief executive of Fiat Chrysler, let this line slip at the 2018 LA Auto Show: “In addition to the all-new mild hybrid Wrangler, a full plug-in electric Jeep Wrangler will be available in 2020.”

Manley’s statement left if vague if the Wrangler would be a pure EV or the previously announced plug-in hybrid. But it’s clear that Manley, who replaced the late Sergio Marchionne as CEO last July, is more open to EVs than his predecessor.

Manley’s veiled EV announcement is backed by Jeep’s five-year electrification plan, which was unveiled in June 2018. The planned roadmap includes 10 plug-in hybrids and four battery-electric cars. Maserati, another Fiat Chrysler brand, similarly said it plans to make four pure EVs by about 2022. And the 2020 all-electric Fiat 500e is due for a redesign and a much bigger battery.

Mr. Manley, how about a fun and funky off-road EV?

A Crunchy Subaru EV, Eventually

2019 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid

Subaru unveiled the 2019 Crosstrek SUV plug-in hybrid in Los Angeles. It will offer a modest 17 miles of all-electric range.

Okay, so the outdoorsy auto brand is only dipping its toes in the water. But that doesn’t mean it’s not working on pure EVs. Last year, Colin Christie, Subaru Australia’s managing director explained, “We’re not talking 10 years, and we’re not talking two years. But in somewhere around five years we’ll potentially have fully-electric vehicles.” He suggested that the first EV would use an existing SUV platform.

That statement from down under is timid, but sources in Japan have been reporting since 2016 that a Subaru all-wheel-drive electric crossover is due in the US by 2021. Moreover, those same reports indicate that Subaru’s new global platform will accommodate gasoline, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and all-electric drivetrains.

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49 Comments on "Three Upcoming Electric Cars That Might Not Be On Your EV Radar"

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They are so far off my radar is just not good enough to detect them.

Maybe your radar has issues with detecting stationary objects? 😉

LOL….that was good!

Every time I see a Subaru now, I will only picture an injured deer laying on the road about to get clobbered by a Model 3.

So much zero-doppler clutter.

Everything mentioned is years away and out of radar range. Subaru’s PHEV is nice and gives a 10% MPG gain over other Subaru’s but at 17 miles EV, its more of a hybrid on steroids than a PHEV.

I was also disappointed in the Subaru. My understanding is that it has the same battery as the Prius Prime, yet gets only 68% of the EV range. Obviously it is far less efficient. I was also disappointed that they are using a traditional all-wheel-drive setup instead of an electric motor for the rear wheels, which would have made much more sense for a PHEV. I’m at a total loss why they went that route. But I’m not sure if the Subaru in the article is the PHEV we already know about, or some other pure EV we haven’t heard about yet.

Why they went that route is actually pretty clear: minimal effort. (With according results…)

Why can’t all the half-hearted PHEVs at least go with the GM Volt Gen 1 and delete the transmission, running a gas generator and electric only drive? At least the ICE generators have better energy conversion efficiency than ICE drivetrains.

That’s not how GM Volt Gen 1 (or Gen 2) worked.

Good point. He’s describing a pure serial hybrid. GM originally (and bizarrely) claimed the Volt was just that… but they lied. I’m still puzzled over why they did so.

Never stopped you before from making silly comments about the VOLT when you didn’t know what their advertised numbers meant. I’ve given the reason they lied a year and a half here at LEAST 5 times before. Maybe you should start using your mouth and ears in proportion so that you finally in your old age learn something worthwhile. If you had bothered to read my comments in the past you wouldn’t ‘still be puzzled’.

Whether or not a car in question EXACTLY mimics the operation of the VOLT is rather pedantic and doesn’t override his main point. Although the issue does put the lie to the point that most PHEV’s are overly complicated compared to ICE’s or BEV’s alone.

I think GM was worried that the fact that occasionally the engine directly powers the wheels would confuse people about whether Volt actually qualified as an EV, especially since the industry tries to muddy the waters by defining EVs as cars that are driven by electric motors rather than the more relevant definition of cars that are powered by electrons from an external source. By neither definition is the Volt a pure EV, it’s a part time EV hence the term “hybrid”.

Yeah but Vexar’s point is close enough. They essentially in the VOLT have a 2 speed transmission (in the GEN 1), and while it could have used a 3 speed, this is a start toward good efficiency (especially if you accelerate to 20 mph slowly), which, while more fully utilized in battery-only mode they still get good use out of it whether the battery is draining or dead.

The best PHEVs use a power split transmission like a Volt, Prius, Fusion or CMax Energi, Clarity PHEV, etc. Each is slightly different design. These give series performance in town and parallel operation at higher speeds and low loads. The exact use is a bit different from each manufacturer.

All cars have a transmission by definition. The device transferring power to the wheels. The Tesla Model 3, like most BEVs, has a single speed gear reduction transmission.

Your definition of “transmission”, while perhaps technically correct, certainly isn’t in general use, and you’re merely causing confusion by trying to re-define the term. It’s confusing enough already, with the British using “gearbox” to mean what Americans call a (multi-gear) “transmission”, and vice versa.

I am not redefining anything, I am using the technical definition for transmission. It is bloggers redefining the term in a nonsensical way. BMW even refers to the i3 transmission as a transmission.

Yeah all the automakers and the used car dealerships call BEV’s with just reduction gearing “One Speed Automatics”, but there is nothing ‘automatic’ about it – Intrinsic is the more proper word.

But anyone who has a mechanical engineering background would call something with changeable reduction speeds a “transmission” and something with fixed ratios a ‘Reducer’ or ‘Gearbox’.

Doesn’t matter what the used car dealers, or others say. Using extremely imprecise terminology just confuses the uninitiated. Manual ‘transmissions’ are sometimes, in slang, called gearboxes, but then motor heads know what they mean – the same way some people call the gasoline engine the ‘motor’.

Example – my home converted 240 volt 7 1/2 (peak) Horsepower snowblower has multiple self-propelled speeds when running with its now very constant speed motor. It was called by its manufacturer (for CASE construction equipment), a ‘car style transmission’ since it had changeable gearing and not just flopping belts around as a cheaper machine would do.

Nissan E-Power, a massive success in Japan.

One day, someone will do a serial hybrid like this with a turbine insteads of a piston engine.

Small turbines are inefficient.

ON the contrary, Microturbines aren’t so bad. Although they have more practicality currently in stationary applications.

Probably won’t happen due to practical issues, such as extremely hot exhaust.

Yeah, a fuel-cell car without the fuel-cell and using an ICE instead. The ‘Diesel-Electric’ version of a car. Wish they’d put a slightly bigger battery, a home charger, and a plug on the thing.

If they did, then they wouldn’t be half-hearted efforts.

Robust PHEVs are designed as true switch-hitters, functioning equally well in either EV mode or gas-powered mode. So far as I know, only the Volt and the Honda Clarity PHEV qualify for that category.

“Better Conversion Efficiency”.

Here we part company Vexar. If this is of so supreme importance I’m sure your home – especially if you are located in the coldest weather is only heated by 100% electric baseboard resistance heat.

Its of almost no importance to me – I’ve given the reason here 10 times but nobody listens.

When I was a kid, many homes in Buffalo, New York had electric heat for various reasons. Less than 2% do now since the ‘100% efficiency’ electric heat will eat you out of house and home by the time you pay the grotesque electricity bill.

When talking about two power trains using the same fuel source, comparing conversion efficiency makes perfect sense.

Right you are – I apparently misread his comment slightly. I had read this sort of thing so many times that I thought he was comparing it in ELECTRIC only mode, but upon rereading I see he means gasoline. My appologies.

they’re all vapourware. The Subaru was at the autoshow, but hybrid.mild or other are old news.

Yeah, there’s a reason none of those cars are on my radar, and probably won’t be for a long time: an encounter with any of them is extremely unlikely any time soon. This is only marginally better than all the stories of VW’s announcements and plans.

Ya all those journalists test driving VW Neo’s in South Africa is vaporware man… I’m going to go vape now and think about Tesla , Elon is dreamy……

The downvotes you got must mean that the ‘Fully Charged’ episode about the VW that was filmed in South Africa is all ‘green screen’ fiction then… Madness

So building an platform for EV’s, having a car in testing almost ready for production is less likely than the cars in this article? Right…

Two comments:
1. The tipping point is already behind us. There will never be another year in which ICE sales equal or exceed 2018 numbers.
2. No hybrid is an EV. If it has a gas tank, NOT AN EV.

The letters “EV” in “PHEV” mean exactly the same thing as the letters “EV” in “BEV”.

No matter how hard you try to ignore reality, that’s not going to actually change reality.

Reality is that different people use terminology differently — there is no absolute truth in the realm of language.

Many people use the term “EV” (without adornments) only to refer to pure EVs aka BEVs. There is a good argument to be made that since PHEVs don’t drive on electricity alone, they aren’t a sub-group of EVs, but rather just partial EVs.

In the summer, most of my driving is done on Battery. My Outlander PHEV is charged at home and my records show that in July 2018, I didn’t visit a petrol (gas) station yet I covered more than 800 miles.
Sure, I’d love a BEV but there really isn’t one that can directly replace the Outlander.

I’m not questioning the value of PHEVs in certain situations. This is purely about terminology…

Well yeah, a PHEV is not a pure EV. Sometimes it drives on electricity, sometimes on fossils. It’s a hybrid. As the name says.

On my radar? Never. As an owner of a REAL EV, I would never buy one of these sluggish turds. If it’s got a gas tank, it’s not getting onto my property.

Dude, you’re really giving a bad name to EV advocacy. Try being more broad-minded, and less confrontational.

As the saying goes: “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”

Let’s not forget that this saying is actually BS 🙂

(Agree though regarding being needlessly confrontational…)

I have been reading the fine work of Pushmi-Pullyu on various EV forums for a few years. I can’t recall one comment that wasn’t well thought out and spot on. I always enjoy reading those comments and they always give me a lot to think about. Now my comment.

I have to wonder why so many companies are planning/ producing all the new and future hybrids? Do the Legacy Manufacturers think that there is more demand for hybrids than BEV? Do they think that the market is not ready to embrace full on BEVs? Or are they taking baby steps because they want to mollify their ICE suppliers? It seems counterintuitive to have two distinct and different power trains in a single vehicle. Speaking of counterintuitive, is it Subaru that came up with PZEV? Really? Partial Zero Emmission Vehicle? What does that even mean? Zero means zero, right? These partial steps towards emission free vehicles will severely affect their chances of success, possibly of survival.

Jonathan, if you work for Tesla’s personnel department please HIRE him.

Legacy makers love hybrids, because it allows them to keep selling combustion engines — which is where their competitive moats reside; where they have a lot of existing expensive assets. With pure EVs, they have to write off these assets, and start from scratch on an equal footing with upstart competitors…

“2022 is the new 2020”

If they’re not going to be sold in Pennsylvania, they don’t need to be on my radar.

Does “He explained that the EV launching in 2020 would use Mazda’s own technology. Mazda also has a partnership with Toyota to develop electric platforms. That tie-up will result in additional Mazda EVs “a couple of years later,” according to Guyton.” mean that they aren’t very confident in their own tech so the first effort is a stop gap and you’d be better to wait ?

“mild hybrid Wrangler”

I like my hybrid’s like I like my salsa. spicy not mild.