New Mustang, RAV4 and other high-volume segment models could help satisfy Canadian demand for electric cars in 2020
Los Angeles — Judging just by the EVs announced in and around the LA Auto Show last week, spring 2020 will bring a new wave of electric choices to Canadian consumers — especially for consumers in the market for a plug-in SUV, with electric pickups and potentially wagons coming further on from there.
To date, a lack of model variety, especially in the highly popular SUV/crossover segment, has been seen as a critical factor in holding back more widespread EV adoption.
But once these models hit the market, a bigger factor might be price. In some cases, the cost of the new vehicles will exceed the current $45,000 base price for eligibility in the federal EV incentive program.
In the spotlight
Two manufacturers — Ford and Tesla — shared top billing last week in LA, although only the former was actually an official LA Auto Show exhibitor.
There was no avoiding Tesla’s splashy introduction of its much-anticipated Cybertruck in Los Angeles around the same time as the LA show’s media days. The controversially angular, all-electric pickup may not have appeared on the show floor, but its unorthodox styling — “cyber-punk,” in Elon Musk’s words — ensured it got plenty of attention.
The show’s official spotlight, meanwhile, shone brightest on Ford, which had, for the most part, kept its all-electric Mustang Mach E crossover under wraps until a pre-show preview for the world’s automotive media. The only leak prior to unveiling involved some screen captures of full Mustang Mach E information copied from a Ford-hosted site, complete with U.S. pricing, range and charge time estimates, as well as performance and trim level details.
In an unusual move for Ford of Canada on any upcoming model, full details on next year’s 2021 Mustang Mach E are available online already, with Ford’s Canadian site listing its starting price at $50,495.
No federal rebate
That starting price is, of course, above the $45,000 starting price threshold to be eligible for the current federal EV incentive — a fact tacitly conceded by the site’s listing of the Mach E’s eligibility for the current Quebec and B.C. provincial incentives. According to this now official Ford Mach E page, the vehicle will be on the market in late 2020 as a 2021 model, offering either a standard 75.7 kWh battery or an extended range 98.8 kWh battery.
While an SUV with a Mustang name and badge might seem strange to some, the BEV will come with rear-wheel drive as standard — a rarity in any SUV, no matter the powertrain, though common in muscle cars. It’s the combination of this larger battery and rear-wheel drive which produces the longest-range Mach E, estimated at over 475 kilometres on the EPA test cycle.
Base model Mach E models with the smaller battery and rear-wheel drive are rated at roughly 355 km worth of range. All-wheel drive, a popular feature on most Canadian crossovers/SUVs, can be added to any Mustang Mach E, while it comes standard in the $82,995 GT Performance Edition.
Mach E ordering details lacking
While production timing for the Mach E seems similar for U.S. and Canadian customers, there’s a notable lack of ordering details on the Canadian Ford site, which specifies only to see your nearest EV-certified dealer. So, it remains to be seen which dealers will actually carry it. The U.S. site mentions that orders will be placed by mid-year 2020, with first orders delivered late in the year.
Little noticed amongst all the Mustang Mach E hype was news that the first all-wheel-drive plug-in crossover to land next year at Ford dealers will actually be on the Lincoln side of the showroom, in the form of the Corsair Grand Touring plug-in hybrid. Dealers in both Canada and the U.S. are expected to take first deliveries next summer.
Ford’s previously announced front-wheel-drive crossover, the Ford Escape plug-in hybrid, will begin arriving a bit earlier, however. Both vehicles are based on the same mechanical underpinnings, with the Corsair offering roughly 40 km of all-electric driving, courtesy of its 14.4 kWh lithium-ion battery. The Lincoln PHEV comes with a twin-motor setup that gives it all-wheel drive, versus single-motor front-wheel drive for the Escape PHEV. However, the Escape has slightly more range, with roughly 48 km of all-electric operation.
Plug-in RAV4 leads other debuts
Perhaps the most mainstream of the LA show’s plug-in debuts was the Toyota RAV4 Prime. Toyota would not confirm its starting price or battery size, nor even if it will fall under the $45,000 federal-rebate price cap, though Toyota officials did state they will attempt to get it in under that price.
Assuming they succeed, it would be eligible for the full $5,000 rebate if the battery is larger than 15 kWh — which seems likely, based on the all-wheel-drive RAV4 Prime’s estimated 60 km of all-electric range, which is the largest range of any plug-in SUV currently on the market.
Toyota also stood apart in LA with the unveiling of its second-generation Mirai, a fuel-cell-powered, high-end, rear-wheel sport sedan. This version is a marked departure from its first-generation front-wheel drive, four-seat predecessor. The few Mirais sold in Canada to date went to fleet operators or individuals with access to private hydrogen pumps, and the same fleet-only caveat will apply to the new Mirai when deliveries begin at the end of 2020.
Speaking in LA, Toyota Canada vice-president Stephen Beatty expressed frustration with the lack of fuel-cell infrastructure in this country, which limits sales to greater Vancouver where two stations are available. Toyota Canada and Honda Canada have also invested in public hydrogen fueling infrastructure in Quebec, and it will soon be online there as well.
Beyond Toyota, here’s a recap of other plug-ins introduced by many leading manufacturers:
Audi e-Tron Sportback: The Audi e-Tron SUV landed in Canada in 2019, and the company used the LA show to unveil the e-Tron Sportback, a coupé version of that relatively boxy SUV. The Sportback offers the same 95 kWh battery and 300 kW powertrain, but a more aerodynamic design means lower wind resistance — which, according to Audi, translates into greater range than the standard e-Tron, currently rated at 329 km by Natural Resources Canada. Arrival: second half of 2020.
BMW X3 xDrive 30e: There was little suspense around BMW’s North American debut of the X3 xDrive 30e, given that the plug-in hybrid was first unveiled in Geneva in March. It offers 50 km worth of electric range. To make room for the PHEV hardware, the car has 100 litres less cargo area compared to all-gas-powered X3 models. Arrival: spring 2020.
Mini Cooper SE BEV: Another electric vehicle to receive its North American debut in LA was the Mini Cooper SE three door, with Canadian pricing set at $39,900. This is not the value proposition some expected, given that American dealers will sell it for a comparatively low US$29,900. A relatively limited number of units are planned, and BMW Canada officials at the LA show said allocation will be based on pre-orders received in the first three months of next year. This vehicle is expected to be especially popular in Quebec due to the combination of its small hatchback body and the $8,000 provincial EV rebate. Arrival: March 2020.
Porsche Taycan 4S: Porsche chose LA to reveal the least-expensive version of its all-electric Taycan sport sedan line, the all-wheel drive Taycan 4S. Sticker price: $119,400, roughly $10,000 more expensive than the current starting price of its nearest rival, the Tesla Model S.Arrival: summer 2020.
Hyundai Ioniq Electric and Electric Plus: Another debut that was actually announced earlier in the year, the new Ioniq Electric BEV features a larger battery pack (38.3 kWh) with increased range (270 km, up from 200 km, according to Hyundai Canada). It will also offer slightly faster charging. Both it and the new Electric Plus PHEV will come with a steering-wheel mounted paddle to help with brake regeneration and driving involvement. Arrival: January 2020.
VW ID. Space Vizzion Concept: Volkswagen made a lot of news rolling out new models and an all-electric strategy earlier this year. In LA, VW news was limted to a confirmation from North American executives that a version of the ID. Vizzion concept car would be produced for this continent. But they didn’t say when or even if it would be a sedan or a wagon. Scott Keogh, president and CEO VW Group of America, also said that VW plans to bring 25 EVs to market by 2025, a slight reduction from the number previously announced.
Tesla Cybertruck: Radical styling aside, the Cybertruck’s specs promise some impressive capabilities. With a promised towing capacity of nearly 6,400 kgs and acceleration from 0-to-96 kmh in less than 2.9 seconds, it combines the work capacity of high-end full-size V8 pickups with the performance excitement associated with its other models. On top of that, it claims an estimated 800 km range and fueling costs that will be a small fraction of any current full-size pickup. So far, it appears that Canadians who order the Cybertruck will receive it at roughly the same time as Americans. Given that the truck is still approximately two years away from market, a lack of firm Canadian pricing is not surprising as Tesla usually sets its price close to the straight exchange rate at the moment of ordering. Arrival: late 2021.