What’s the fastest electric car on the market? I think you can guess, but what about #2–17?
First of all, let’s get a little perspective in here. A car’s quickness is generally rated by how fast it goes from o mph to 60 mph (or 0 km/h to 100 km/h outside of the USA and a few other places). But there are other ways to measure it — o mph to 30 mph, o mph to 15 mph, etc. The thing about electric cars is that they have instant torque, which gives them a huge jolt of power right off the line, something that conventional gasmobiles simply can’t match. To visualize that a bit, here’s a simple graph via DesignNews (via the Union of Concerned Scientists):
This instant torque and the many benefits it offers is one of two key reasons that I think electric cars will quite quickly take over the automobile market. (This is the other reason.)
But anyhow, a car’s 0–60 time is the the standard by which we typically measure how quick (or fast, if you’re not being precise with your use of language) a car is, so that’s what I’m using in this article to rank the top 10 quickest “electric cars on the market.” Just keep that instant torque thing in mind and be sure to share that graph with your uninitiated gearhead friends.
As one more intro point before jumping into the list, I put “electric cars on the market” in quotation marks like that because some cars are supposedly “on the market” but are basically unattainable. The $1 million Rimac Concept_One, for example. Wonderful car, and supposedly goes from 0 to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds, but come one, we can’t have a $1 million car on this list.
Oh, and by the way, plug-in hybrid electric cars are a subset of electric cars in my eyes, so they are included in this ranking.
With those disclaimers out of the way, here are the 17 quickest electric cars on the market:
17. Chevy Volt = 8.8 seconds (Note: 2016 Volt will = 8.4 seconds)
I went beyond the top 10 quickest electric cars because I wanted to get a bit more into “every man’s” territory. The Volt is certainly in that realm, with a price tag (or MSRP) of just $33,995 before the US federal tax credit for EVs or other state and local incentives. It’s also a very sharp-looking car and has gotten a ton of love from its owners over the past several years. It seems to offer a good balance between performance, comfort, and price.
16. Fiat 500e = 8.7 seconds
The Fiat 500e is known for being a bit spunky despite its cute looks, and quite snappy off the line. Road & Track actually named it the best electric car of 2013. At $32,500 before incentives, it’s again very much in the “affordable” category. It’s definitely one of the electric cars I most want to test drive and haven’t yet… which is largely because Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne doesn’t really want to sell the thing, it’s mostly just been available in California, and I live all the way over in Poland. But maybe one day….
I was actually quite surprised to see the Ford C-Max Energi (and it Fusion sibling) so high on the list. I mean, I saw the number when updating this comprehensive electric car page a few months ago, but I really didn’t remember it beating out so many other electric models. It’s very much a family car, in my eyes, and doesn’t scream “fast.” Perhaps the decent acceleration is one of the things that keeps it sales quite steadily in the top 6 or 7 in the USA. The affordable $31,635 MSRP doesn’t hurt either, I’m sure.
14. Renault Zoe = 8.2 seconds
I love the Renault Zoe. I realize it’s not the response that many have to such an affordable, simple car, but I really love the thing. And finding out that it has a decent 0–60 time of 8.2 seconds just makes it that much better. Naturally, it would be hard to choose the Zoe over the Tesla Model S or some of the other more expensive cars on this list, but if you want to save money, the Zoe is an awesome choice. Of course, it’s not on the US market, but it is the 3rd most popular electric car in Europe so far this year, and the quickest of those top three. By the way, the price in its home country of France is €21,900 and the price in the UK is £13,443, not including the leasing of the battery.
12. Ford Fusion Energi = 7.9 seconds
Like with the C-Max Energi, the Fusion Energi is another surprise “family car” that I was surprised to see so high on the list. It was the 5th best-selling electric car in the US in the first half of 2015, and 4th in June, due to its many benefits. Fast, quite spacious, quite affordable, good looks — what more do you need (other than a bit more all-electric range, ahem)? Price = $33,900, btw.
12. Mercedes B-Class Electric = 7.9 seconds
With some Tesla organs and a Mercedes badge, it’s not surprising to see the B-Class Electric show up on this list. However, it’s by far the most expensive we’ve seen so far, with an MSRP of $41,450. For much more detail on the B-Class Electric, I recommend this thorough review: 2014 Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive Review — 1st Month (Exclusive).
11. Cadillac ELR = 7.8 seconds
Expensive? What was I talking about? For an extra 0.1 second (… and, admittedly, a few other things…), the Cadillac ELR adds about $25,000. Granted, that’s a big reason why its sales are pretty lousy compared to other models on this list. But hey, it almost broke into the top 10, and the truth is that it does offer quite a bit of luxury.
9. Volkswagen Golf GTE = 7.6 seconds
Getting back into the realm of cars an average man can afford (well, the price is still a bit above average), the Volkswagen Golf GTE starts at £33,755 in the UK. If you haven’t guessed by now, it’s not yet on the US market. But it is selling like hotcakes in Europe. It was #6 for the first five months of 2015, but rose to #2 in May. As you can see in the video reviews above, it’s quite well loved.
9. Audi A3 e-tron = 7.6 seconds
The Audi A3 e-tron is tied with the VW Golf GTE because it is basically the same car, just with a different cover. It also comes in at basically the same price. Essentially, if you like the features of these plug-in hybrids for the money you have to fork over for them, the deciding factor is basically whether you prefer Audi or Volkswagen. Sort of like choosing between a Chiquita banana and a Dole banana, you know? The good news is the A3 e-tron should hit US shores in October (I’m guessing California).
8. Chevy Spark EV = 7.2 seconds
With more torque than a Ferrari 458 Italia, the Chevy Spark EV didn’t have too much trouble landing on this list… or impressing test drivers and owners. Yeah, 7.2 seconds to 60 mph isn’t amazing, but remember that graph at the top of this page. You have to adjust. And considering that the car comes in at just $25,995 before incentives (after a recent price cut), the Spark EV is by far the cheapest on this list that is available in the US, and comes in several thousand dollars below the average new-car price, not even counting the $7,500 US federal tax credit for EVs or the $2,500 ZEV rebate in California. You’d think it would be selling like crazy… unless GM wasn’t actually producing the car to meet demand or advertising it.
7. BMW i3 = 7.1 seconds
Full disclosure: I love the BMW i3. Agreed, the looks aren’t like those of a Rimac Concept_One or BMW i8, but the car drives wonderfully, has impressive acceleration off the line, is comfy and spacious, is the most efficient car on the US market, and is green as all get-out. With almost the same price as the Mercedes B-Class Electric, that’s likely its closest competitor. The i3 obviously crushed the B-Class Electric off the line (well, is 0.8 seconds faster to 60 mph), but there’s plenty of debate which car is better. See this comparison vs this comparison. Heck, even the tweets on those competing articles are almost the same.
6. Mercedes 350 e = 5.9 seconds
The Mercedes GLC 350 e 4MATIC Plug-In may be an SUV, but this beast knows how to get up and go, reportedly hitting 60 mph faster than your mom can say “ouch.” It has just hit the European market, so we’re yet to see much of it, but in the plug-in-hybrid-loving Netherlands, it was the 4th best selling electric car in June. I haven’t searched out the price yet, but I’m sure it’s not cheap.
5. Volvo V60 Plug-In Hybrid = 5.7 seconds
The luxurious, high-performance Volvo V60 PHEV is a close competitor to the 350 e in many respects, and barely inches it out in the drive to 60 mph (or 100 km/h). It’s high price tag certainly scares away many buyers, but it has enough to offer that it has a solid grip on the #9 sales spot in Europe. It’s not available in the US, btw.
4. Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid = 5.4 seconds
Ah, hard to have a “fastest cars” list without Porsche strutting its stuff. Another SUV/crossover, the Cayenne S E-Hybrid is all about the mixture of performance and luxury. At a cool $77,200, it’s not for the 99%, but what can you expect with the Porsche logo on it. For the record, I think it is my favorite SUV/crossover (until the Tesla Model X arrives), but I do wish Porsche had squeezed more than 14 miles of electric range into the vehicle.
3. Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid = 5.2 seconds
Ah, and sharing much of the same technology, the Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid steals the bronze medal from the Cayenne S E-Hybrid. The Panamera S E-Hybrid actually accounts for about 10% of Panamera sales last I heard. I think it deserves even more, but whatev — people are slow to catch on to new trends. (Btw, Porsche, I have’t driven this thing yet — drop me a line.)
2. BMW i8 = 4.4 seconds
Eating Porsche’s lunch this time, the BMW i8 is not just a beauty of a car that pulls in people who know nothing about it — it’s a vehicular cheetah. The only problems? Its $135,700 price tag and its quite minimal 15 miles of electric range. But still, look at that beauty. (Btw, BMW, I have’t driven this thing yet — drop me a line.)
You knew it all along, of course. The Tesla Model S is the best mass-manufactured car on the planet, the best of all time according to many of us. Motor Trend recently named it one of the top 10 American cars of all time (come on, just call it #1 of everything), while the oil industry is pissing its pants about it. It makes most of the other cars on the road look like golf carts, and as I noted at the top, it burns Ferraris or Lamborghinis off the line. At a reasonable price, it’s no wonder the Model S is the top-selling car in its class in the USA.
Unfortunately, after test driving the record-breaking Tesla P85D, I’m ruined for all other cars.
(Update on July 17: Tesla just announced that it has gotten its 0–60 time down to 2.8 seconds.)