Where can you find the best electric vehicles (EVs) today? As demand and interest in EVs increase and more drivers are looking to reduce their emissions, more and more automakers are beginning to produce and sell electric cars. Knowing which brands/car models are reliable and respected, like when looking for a conventional vehicle, can be a solid guideline in your buying process.
Here are some of the top EV manufacturers to watch this year:
EVs are a separate class of vehicle from traditional gasoline-powered cars, and it’s vital to understand how to compare your different electric car options. An electric vehicle can be a serious investment, and it is important to ensure that the vehicle you purchase is a good fit for you.
Tesla, Elon Musk's innovative technology company, is known for producing top-quality, cutting-edge vehicles with high-end and creative features. Tesla's most popular vehicle to date is the Model Y, followed by the Model 3 and then the Model S. Tesla's offerings show a good balance of having a long range and affordable price.
The Model S is Tesla's luxury sedan, and at the time of its first release, it was the highest-rated vehicle ever tested by Consumer Reports. The Model X is the electric SUV from Tesla, and features falcon wing doors, room for seven passengers, and almost 300 miles in range per charge. The Model 3 is a low-cost sedan option for those wanting to avoid paying the high price for the Model S luxury vehicle.
Despite Tesla's reputation for making the best EVs on the market today, there are some areas that the company still needs to improve. Here are a few of the chief complaints from Tesla drivers about the brand.
Noise levels. While this is more specific to certain models, some Tesla owners complain about the noise level from the road when traveling at average or higher speeds. Owners expect little to no road noise at an average price of $80,000 USD.
Autosteer. While this feature is one of many selling points for many drivers, it's also been controversial. When engaged, Autosteer automatically steers within marked lanes. Tesla is quick to point out that no passenger vehicle today is capable of self-driving, but this type of driver-assistance software has been blamed for several high-profile accidents.
Customer service. This has been an ongoing issue across the Tesla brand. Fewer than half of Tesla drivers are satisfied with the service they get from Tesla. With longer wait times for vehicles — estimated delivery for a Model X or Model Y stretches into 2023 — and an overall lack of satisfaction that they handle complaints well, this has been an issue for the company year after year.
Tesla's current and anticipated lineup includes:
Tesla Cybertruck (not yet released)
Tesla Semi (not yet released)
The Model X is the electric SUV from Tesla, and features falcon wing doors, room for seven passengers, and almost 300 miles in range per charge. The Model 3 is a low-cost sedan option for those wanting to avoid paying the high price for the Model S luxury sedan.
BMW is a German car company that produces luxury cars. After entering the electric car market in a major way with the BMW i3 in 2014, the manufacturer recently introduced the i4 and iX, a large SUV.
Long before they began producing electric vehicles, BMW was known as a luxury car company with a good reputation with consumers.
Out of 33 car brands, J.D. Power ranked BMW at #15 on its annual dependability study. While some other brands performed better (Kia, which you'll read further down, ranked first), it's still an excellent rating and better than the average for car manufacturers.
While BMW is known for being a quality car manufacturer, some key aspects of its products may put them at a disadvantage behind other automotive companies. While some don't apply to EVs (i.e., oil leaks), others may remain an issue for owners.
Electrical problems. Many BMWs experience electrical issues, particularly with things like power windows and certain monitoring systems.
Steering wheel. In some models, the steering wheel vibrates when braking. It's a consistent issue with the thrush arm bushings and doesn't necessarily occur with age or mileage.
BMW has bet on EVs with new entries on the horizon for 2023, but its first big entry, the i3, is still going strong. The rear-wheel drive hatchback is known for its space-age styling, including unique rear-hinged back doors. While it doesn't have the same power or range as some EVs, most drivers say it's an agile, lightweight vehicle well-suited for city driving. The range between charges has improved as the model has been updated throughout the years. Customers can expect to pay around $40,000 USD for a new i3, but for older, pre-owned models, and it's possible to find one for $15,000 USD or less. The brand's first all-electric SUV, the BMW IX, became available in 2022.
Headquartered in Japan, Nissan's electric car offerings are led by the Nissan Leaf. As one of the world's most popular electric vehicles, the Leaf offers all the benefits of driving electric while staying available at a relatively low price point.
For almost 100 years, Nissan has been a competitive company in the automotive industry. Here are some features that keep owners coming back to Nissan for their driving needs.
Price. The Nissan Leaf has been the least expensive EV for a number of years and remains one of the most affordable options available to consumers. The 2022 Nissan Leaf starts at $27,400.
Like all automotive companies, Nissan has some areas that could be improved. While some concern combustion engines, some recurring issues may also apply to EVs.
Backup camera. A few years ago, Nissan had to issue a massive recall due to a failure in the backup cameras of certain Nissan models. The error violated federal safety standards in the United States, necessitating the recall.
Automatic Emergency Braking system. Emergency braking is a valuable technology to prevent accidents, but Nissan owners have had issues with the feature malfunctioning. The AEB system would activate unnecessarily.
The LEAF was Nissan's first electric car, which debuted in 2011. Today, the 2023 Ariya is slated to come out as Nissan's second completely electric model. Both are more affordable when compared to cars made by other electric vehicle manufacturers and have the same level of quality as other Nissan models.
Chevrolet is a division of the American company General Motors and sells a wide range of vehicles worldwide. Chevy's first foray into the all-electric car market is the Chevrolet Bolt, which offers over 2520 miles per charge at a price far below other long-range vehicles, such as Tesla's current lineup.
Based in the United States, the Chevrolet brand has been around for over 100 years. In that time, it established itself well in automotive history. Here are the reasons that Chevrolet is fourth on our list.
Multiple awards. Chevrolet has won several awards over the years, and it has a lot to do with its ability to continue pacing ahead of many manufacturers, EVs or otherwise, in producing new technology.
Safety. When it comes to features that help prevent accidents, such as collision alert and lane departure, Chevrolet tends to perform well compared to other U.S.-based EV manufacturers.
While arguably a great automotive company, like all other brands, Chevrolet has consistently fallen short in a few areas, which are:
Battery hazard. One big miss for Chevrolet has been the battery in the Bolt. When charged to capacity or close, Bolt batteries ran the risk of catching on fire. A software update has temporarily fixed the issue, but a more permanent solution is still in the works as of this publishing.
Electrical issues. Numerous models have reportedly had issues with the electrical for interior accessories. While it's unclear if this applies to Chevrolet's EV vehicles, it is something for Chevrolet owners to consider.
Air conditioning. For a few models, the air conditioning system tends to malfunction and either blow warm air or stop working altogether. While a minor issue compared to combustible batteries, many owners find it very inconvenient.
Other popular Chevrolet models, such as the Equinox, Blazer, and Silverado, are slated to join the Bolt in the EV race by 2023. There is also the new Chevy Bolt EUV (electric utility vehicle). As a matter of fact, General Motors has made an ambitious commitment: They are going all-electric by 2035.
Ford is a classic American car maker, producing a plethora of vehicles for sale worldwide, from pickup trucks to plug-in hybrids. Their leading electric vehicle today is the Ford Mustang Mach-E. The newest reiteration of the F-150, the F-150 Lightning, is Ford's latest, much-anticipated release set for spring of this year. The minimum range for this EV truck is about 230 miles, with add-ons providing an additional 100 miles. Ford has submitted patents for an optional range extender to add more miles between charges.
Since its founding in 1903, Ford has become one of the most recognizable car brands in the world. Today, it's electrifying some of its most iconic nameplates, like the F-150 truck and Mustang sports car. Here's what else there is to admire.
Price point. The consensus with many drivers is that you get more than you pay for with a Ford. Owners are happy with the number of amenities they get for a comparatively lower price tag compared to other manufacturers.
Fords also have some drawbacks compared to other EVs.
Reliability. Ford has consistently fallen short on reliability throughout the years. While that may not apply to EVs that don't have a combustion engine, some owners still hesitate to invest in a Ford product.
Recalls. In 1996, Ford recalled millions of vehicle models due to a faulty ignition switch. This came on the heels of a powertrain recall in the 1980s, which at the time, was the biggest recall by a car manufacturer, affecting about 21 million vehicles.
While the Ford Focus Electric was Ford's first foray into producing EVs, it has since followed up with electric options for one of its most popular models — the Mustang. Called the Mach-E, this model is distinctly electric with the absence of a front grille but with the iconic Mustang horse prominent on the front of the car. In addition to the Mach-E, Ford has the F-150 Lightning and E-Transit van.
Volkswagen is a German automaker known for the VW Beetle. It offers numerous EVs, including the ID.4. A relatively affordable EV, the ID.4 averages about 97 MPGe with about 260 miles between charges.
Volkswagens are popular cars and for good reason. Aside from iconic cars like the VW Beetle, many Volkswagen owners remain loyal to Volkswagen year after year because of the manufacturer's many other quality features. Volkswagen's series of electric vehicles, including the ID.4, stands out in its safety features and amount of space compared to other EVs.
Volkswagen is as well known for its less favorable attributes as it is for its finer ones. Here are some of the top complaints that drivers and former customers have had about the brand.
Limited maintenance. It can be difficult to find qualified personnel to work on these cars. Owners should make sure that mechanics are trained to work on the German-made automobile, regardless if the vehicle features a combustion engine or is an EV.
Trust. While this scandal touched combustion-engine cars, Volkswagen admitted in 2015 to cheating U.S. diesel engine tests. The scandal led to a loss of trust among brand loyalists.
Faulty front assist. Designed to prevent front-end collisions, many drivers have experienced malfunctions that cause the car to stop suddenly due to a non-existent threat.
The e-Golf was the first mass-produced electric car by Volkswagen, but not the first electric car that Volkswagen produced. Its first electric vehicle was the Elektro-Bus in 1972, followed by numerous Golf car models throughout the 80s and 90s. Today, they have the ID.4, ID.5, and many other models currently lined up for release. Subsidiary company Porsche also offers EV models to choose from, including the Porsche Taycan.
Kia is a South Korean car company that has emerged as an affordable and dependable company to rival brands like Toyota and Honda. In the United States, the Kia Niro is the most popular EV from this brand, with sales of over 26k in 2021. The 2021 Kia Niro crossover averages an estimated 239 miles between charges, making it an efficient, affordable choice for consumers.
A company known for producing affordable vehicles, there are many reasons why consumers enjoy owning and driving these cars.
Price point. For many consumers, the affordability of Kia models is a significant incentive to purchase this brand. This applies to its electric vehicles as well — the Kona Electric, for example, has a starting price under $35,000 and a range of 258 miles.
Warranty. Compared to many other EV manufacturers, Kia offers an excellent warranty on its cars. Warranties include attractive bumper-to-bumper coverage as well as battery replacement.
While an excellent financial choice, there are certain ways that Kia could improve to retain and grow its consumer base and cultivate loyal customers. Here are the areas that Kia could improve on.
Interior design. One complaint from Niro drivers is that the design could be improved. With uncomfortable seating and an awkward dashboard arrangement, it isn't the most comfortable experience for some consumers.
Handling. The extra weight of Kia's EV models tends to impact handling, particularly around corners. For consumers in mountainous areas, this is a frustrating feature that causes the body of the car to lean more than a gasoline-powered vehicle.
Slow charging. For some EVs produced by Kia, charging is quite fast (an hour on a 100-kW CCS charger), but for ordinary Level 2 connections, it can take over nine hours.
Though the Kia Soul EV was discontinued, American shoppers have the EV6 and Niro. Both EVs are midsize SUVs with an impressive suite of features and range. The EV6 is capable of over 300 miles on a single charge, with 240 miles for the Niro. In coming years, consumers can expect to see even more EVs manufactured by Kia as the company has announced plans to debut six new EVs before 2025.
In addition to these top EV companies, many other known vehicle companies are starting to manufacture Electric vehicles. Below you will find some examples of manufacturers with several different models. This is not an exhaustive list, however, as there are also offerings from Mini, Cadillac, Jaguar, Volvo's offering with Polestar, and Mercedes-Benz, as well as manufacturers from China such as Nio, and American startups such as California-based Rivian.
From this well-known German brand known for quality and performance, Audi released the e-tron series in 2021. The Audi e-tron is a series of all-electric high-performance SUVs also available in coupe models. The 2023 model has a range of up to 226 miles, a charge time of 30 minutes, and 150 kW of maximum charge power.
This widely popular Korean auto manufacturer was an early EV manufacturer with options available as early as 2010. Today their offering includes the 2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5, a fully electric SUV, the Hyundai Kona Electric, and electric versions of the Hyundai Santa Fe, Tuscon, and Genesis.
Learn more about the most popular EVs in 2022 and which one might fit your lifestyle, budget, and overall needs, as well as future trends like autonomous driving. Additionally, it is important to keep in mind that a key difference between EV manufacturers can be the warranties they offer alongside their vehicles. Check out our guide on EV batteries and warranties for more information on some of the differences between top electric vehicle company warranties.