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The top electric vehicle startups to follow in 2019

Electric vehicles have been dominating headlines since the Toyota Prius hybrid hit the worldwide marketplace in 2000. In 2017 there were an estimated 3.1 million EVs on the road, and that number is expected to skyrocket to more than 2 billion by 2040. Though the EV movement is still in its infancy, most major car manufacturers are already getting in on the action, touting benefits to the environment and cheaper running costs. These companies face stiff competition from new startups, however.

Companies around the world are coming out with innovative EV designs that hold their own against models such as the Nissan Leaf, Volkswagen e-Golf, and Tesla’s line of luxury vehicles (now with a more consumer-focused option in the Model 3. Here are some of the top alternative EV manufacturers to look out for in the coming year.

Rimac Automobili

Since 2009, this Croatian startup has specialized in hypercars, drivetrains and battery systems. Their first car, the “Concept One,” was introduced in 2013 as a luxury sports EV. The car can go from 0 to 60 in 2.5 seconds thanks to its powerful engine and light build, and its battery is able to hold a charge for up to 350 km. The “Concept Two,” due to be released in 2019, was unveiled at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show. It promises to be the world’s fastest accelerating car, going from 0 to 60 mph in an impressive 1.85 seconds.

Nio

Unlike many other EV companies, Chinese startup Nio has mainly focused on designing fully electric luxury SUVs. The ES6 and the ES8 both offer a powerful engine and a spacious interior. The EP9, unlike other production models, is a high-performance sports car with autonomous technology integrated into its system. This model earned the autonomous lap record at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas in 2017. Nio has also introduced a fully autonomous concept car known EVE.

Classic Factory

This ten-year-old Swedish startup came out with its first EV concept vehicle, the Lyonheart K sports car, in 2012. As the name suggests, the designs of the vehicles are inspired by classic models, with a heavy focus on aesthetics. This year, Classic Factory is set to release its first-ever vehicle on the market. Known as the Elextra, this car will be able to travel up to 600 km on a single charge and accelerate from 0 to 100 in less than 2.3 seconds.

Other vehicle segments

As electric vehicles become commonplace on the road, more and more startups are jumping on the opportunity to corner the marketplace. Innovations from new companies are helping to drive the future of both electric and autonomous vehicles, including names such as Rimac Automobili, Nio, and Classic Factory. In the coming months, we can expect to see exciting new EVs hitting the market, from SUVs to luxury sports cars.

However, one light vehicle segment is lacking in EV development: utes and pickup trucks. Rivian has produced a 14,000Nm concept ute which would do 0-100km/h in 3 seconds, but it’s estimated it won’t be available until 2022 and the prices for the trucks will start at around $90,000 in Australian dollars.

There is plenty of development in electric trucks and buses with them becoming widespread in various parts of the world. They are suitable for local runs (think waste collection trucks or small box vans for local deliveries) and less suited to line haul and long distance due to the expense and requirements for the batteries.

Darren is an expert on driving and transport, and is a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists

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