Electric vehicles are inarguably more popular and more prevalent on the West Coast, so it seems apropos that at this year’s LA Auto Show EVs were on full display. But it wasn’t just electric car concepts being shown, rather it was production-ready electric SUVs – and a whole bunch of them.
Automakers like Nissan, Toyota and Subaru finally engaged in the electric vehicle market with launches in Los Angeles while some upstart electric vehicle manufacturing companies tried to make a splash. However, there were several major manufacturers that were also noticeably absent from LA this year including Audi, BMW, Buick, Cadillac, Genesis, Infiniti, Karma, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi and Rivian.
Rivian being absent was a surprise since it is launching the R1T, and this is the perfect location and audience to showcase the all-electric truck.
First up, this seven-passenger EV SUV from Hyundai is one of the concepts revealed at the show. Hyundai’s EV movement is being branded under the Ioniq name, and the SEVEN concept is built on Hyundai Motor Group’s Electric-Global Modular Platform (E-GMP), a dedicated BEV architecture.
It’s important to note that while SEVEN is a concept, Hyundai most assuredly will be going to market with some kind of seven-passenger Ioniq EV (called the Ioniq 7), and in fact it is trying to disrupt the segment by creating what it calls an SUEV, sport utility electric vehicle.
Hyundai has worked hard at developing new battery technology to provide longer range and shorter charge times.
Thanks to the E-GMP platform, SEVEN would be able to provide outstanding driving range and ultra-fast charging capabilities, delivering a driving experience tailored to customer’s needs. In a real-world situation with a 350-kW charger, SEVEN is capable of charging from 10% to 80% in about 20 minutes. The concept is also engineered to achieve a target range of over 300 miles.
Kia is perhaps the biggest winner from LA with a seven-passenger electric SUV (named EV9) but also announcing an electrified version of its longest-running nameplate, Sportage.
The 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid (HEV) will have a hybrid powertrain combining a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine with a 44-kilowatt motor to achieve up to 39 MPG (targeted). Together, engine and motor will make 226 horsepower channeled to either the front wheels or an active all-wheel-drive system.
The other big news from Kia was the reveal of the Kia Concept EV9, which is quite similar to the Hyundai SEVEN and shares the same E-GMP architecture. The concept EV9 measures 194 inches in length, 81 inches in width, 70 inches in height and has a wheelbase of 122 inches.
The EV9 is expected to have a range of 300 miles. And like the Hyundai SEVEN, it should have ultra-fast recharging technology that will allows it to replenish energy from 10% to 80% in 20-30 minutes.
The Subaru Solterra is an interesting vehicle. It is Subaru’s first EV offering for the North American market and it’s part of a partnership with Toyota, who is launching the bZ4X at the same time. Both electric SUVs share technology and a platform. The Solterra is built on the e-Subaru Global Platform (sister to Toyota e-TNGA).
The five-passenger SUV is expected to have a range around 230 miles and will have Subaru’s symmetrical all-wheel drive system. The Solterra will have a 71.4 kWh battery and 8.3 inches of ground clearance. The expected power is 215 horsepower and 248 248-lb-ft of torque.
The Solterra should go on sale late in 2022 as a 2023 model year.
In addition to the more recognized names that were present in LA, two other EV manufacturers made their presence known. One is a recognized name from the past, Fisker, and one is a new entrant from Vietnam, VinFast.
Fisker’s electric SUV is called Ocean and the manufacturer claims it is the most sustainable electric vehicle. The Ocean base trim Sport will start at $37,499 while two other trims will be priced at $49,999 and $68,999, collectively. The front-wheel drive model is estimated to have a range of 250-340 miles, based upon battery size.
Vietnam’s richest person is Pham Nhat Vuong, who sees himself as a rival to Elon Musk in some regards. As such, his company VinGroup has an electric car subsidiary named VinFast. Now that you’re caught up, VinFast made a splash in LA by introducing two different five-passenger SUVs, the midsize VF e35 and the large SUV VFe36. The VF e35 will have a range of 310 miles per charge, and the e36 is expected to have a range 422 miles per charge.
Pricing is not released for the US yet, but the Vietnamese equivalent pricing for the e35 is around $30,000 while the e36 is around $47,000. Certainly the range and price would be competitive here in this market if it all holds for the upstart VinFast.
Yes it’s LaLa Land. Yes the West Coast has a much different consumer vehicle preference than much of the rest of the country. But that’s no reason to dismiss the trend that’s clear and evident from the 2021 LA Auto Show: electric vehicles are coming quick to the high-volume SUV and crossover segment. Tesla helped spur this with the Model Y and Ford has already plunged in with the Mustang Mach-E. Likewise the GM Hummer EV shows that automakers are taking this seriously.
When conservative automakers like Toyota and Nissan finally jump into the fray it’s a sign of the times, for sure.
What are your thoughts on electric vehicles? Is an EV something you’d consider? Leave your comment below.