Electric Road Trip

What we're driving on the 6,000-mile Electric Road Trip

In preparing for our Electric Road Trip that starts next week, we get one question all the time: What electric car are you driving?

So we are delighted to finally disclose the car — or actually, all eight of them. Here's our fleet, with specifics on each at the end of the post:

  • BMW i3
  • Chevrolet Bolt
  • Hyundai Kona Electric
  • Jaguar I-PACE
  • Kia Niro EV
  • Nissan Leaf
  • Tesla Model 3
  • Tesla Model S

The whole purpose of the Electric Road Trip is to explore how electric transportation will change America. To convey the experience of motoring and fueling, we wanted to expose you to as many models as possible.

Not just any electric car would do. We focused on pure electric models, not plug-in hybrids, since our experiment is to cover 6,000 miles without a drop of gas.

Furthermore, we needed steeds that would cover 200 miles or more on a single charge, as we have a lot of distance to cover (see the route). All of the cars we'll use fit that description, except for the BMW i3, with a range of 153 miles, and an older-model Nissan Leaf, with a range of 75 miles.

Four of the cars — the Kia Niro EV, BMW i3, Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model 3 — were loaned to us by their manufacturers.

Not coincidentally, these are also the workhorses of the trip. That's because in 2019, it is virtually impossible to rent an electric car that isn't a Tesla from one of the big rental agencies. (Believe us, we checked.) In other words, picking up an electric car from one part of the country and leaving it in another part of the country is difficult to do. The cars loaned by the manufacturers helped us solve the puzzle of a sprawling 6,000-mile route, and for that we're grateful.

The other vehicles will be based in a single metro area. (Which metro area? Watch and bookmark this blog for updates.) Sometimes our reporters, in teams of two, will drive two cars simultaneously.

Finally, a note for Tesla aficionados. The question may be asked: If Teslas are available for rent and have better range than other EVs along with a robust, proprietary charging network, why aren't you just driving Teslas?

The short answer is that we aren't taking the easy road. Exploring the state of electric transportation in 2019 means driving lots of different cars and relying on lots of different charging networks. We're glad to have perhaps the largest fleet of all-electric cars ever to comprise a single Electric Road Trip.

Here are the cars. All the information comes from the manufacturers, with the following caveats.

Range, MPGe (miles per gallon of gasoline-equivalent) and time to charge originate from data at the Department of Energy and EPA. Figures on MSRP (manufacturers suggested retail price) are courtesy of Edmunds; zero-to-60 estimates are from test drives by Car and Driver.

BMW i3

Model Year: 2019
Range: 153 miles
Electric motor: 135 kilowatts
Horsepower: 181
Battery: 42 kilowatts per hour
MSRP: $44,450 to $51,500
MPGe city/highway: 113
Torque: 184 pound-feet
Zero to 60 mph: 6.6 seconds
Time to charge: 5 hours at 240 volts

Chevrolet Bolt

Model year: 2019
Range: 238 miles
Electric motor: 149 kW
Horsepower: 200
Battery: 60 kWh
MSRP: $36,620-$41,000
MPGe city/highway: 119
Torque: 266 pound-feet
Zero to 60 mph: Less than 7 seconds*
Time to charge: 9.3 hours at 240 volts

Hyundai Kona Electric

Model year: 2019
Range: 258 miles
Electric motor: 150 kW
Horsepower: 201
Battery: 64 kWh
MSRP: $36,950 to $44,900
MPGe city/highway: 120
Torque: 291 pound-feet
Zero to 60 mph: 6.4 seconds
Time to charge: 9 hours at 240 volts

Jaguar I-PACE

Model year: 2019
Range: 234 miles
Electric motor: Two motors, total 294 kW
Horsepower: 394
Battery: 90 kWh
MSRP: $69,850-$80,900
MPGe city/highway: 76
Torque: 512 pound-feet
Zero to 60 mph: 4.3 seconds
Time to charge: 13 hours at 240 volts

Kia Niro EV

Model year: 2019
Range: 239 miles
Electric motor: 170 kW
Horsepower: 201
Battery: 64 kWh
MSRP: $38,500-$44,000
MPGe city/highway: 112
Torque: 291 pound-feet
Zero to 60 mph: 6.5 seconds
Time to charge: 9.5 hours at 240 volts

Nissan Leaf

Model year: 2013
Range: 75 miles
Electric motor: 80 kW
Horsepower: 107
Battery: 24 kWh
MSRP: Used
MPGe city/highway: 115
Torque: 187
Zero to 60 mph: 10 seconds**
Time to charge: 7 hours at 240 volts

Tesla Model 3

Model year: 2019
Range: 310 miles
Electric motor: Two motors, total 258 kW
Horsepower: 346
Battery: Figure not reported
MSRP: $35,000-$59,900
MPGe city/highway: 116
Torque: 376 pound-feet
Zero to 60 mph: 4.4 seconds
Time to charge: 10 hours at 240 volts

Tesla Model S

Model year: 2014
Range: 265 miles
Electric motor: Unavailable****
Horsepower: Unavailable****
Battery: 85 kWh
MSRP: Used
MPGe city/highway: 89
Torque: Unavailable****
Zero to 60 mph: 3.7 seconds***
Time to charge: 4.75-12 hours (depending on amperage and charger type)

* The Chevrolet Bolt is the only new car whose zero-to-60 speed was not measured by Car and Driver. This figure comes from a list of Bolt specs.

** A 2014 Nissan Leaf was clocked zero-to-60 in 9.7 seconds by the publication Top Speed and a 2011 model at 10 seconds by Car and Driver.

*** From Car and Driver's review of the 2015 Tesla Model S P85 all-wheel-drive.

**** Tesla did not make all information available in time for publication.

Electric Road Trip

E&E News reporters take a 6,000-mile road trip in an electric vehicle to explore how the switch from gas to electric transportation will change the economy, environment and daily life of America.
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