15 July 2020   By: Byron Mathioudakis

Carmakers are investing billions bringing electric vehicles (EV) to the mass market, propelled by growing international legislation calling for cleaner models, and backed up by huge strides in the development of electric motor, battery efficiency and recharging infrastructure technologies.

When considering an electric car, remember its battery pack is like a regular car’s fuel tank, but for electricity instead. The bigger it is, the further you can go before recharging. However, you pay a lot extra for the privilege.

With more choice than ever before, here’s a rundown of all of the electric cars available in Australia in 2020, and those coming in 2021.

Renault Zoe - From $47,490 plus on-road costs

Renault Zoe ZE 40

One of Europe’s bestselling electric cars, the Zoe is a small, Toyota Yaris-sized five-door hatchback from France.

Although under 4.1 metres long, it is space-efficient, seats five at a squeeze and offers a useful boot – though a tyre-inflation kit replaces the spare tyre. Simplicity and ease are central to the Renault’s operation.

Available in Australia since 2018, the Zoe actually dates back to 2012. Its advancing years are betrayed by its fiddly multimedia system, lack of Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity and limited driver-assist safety, with no AEB autonomous emergency braking or adaptive cruise control.

Still, the Zoe feels modern in other ways, with direct steering, controlled handling and reasonable refinement for its size. The electric motor provides lively, instant and effortless acceleration that’s perfect for zipping through traffic, while a sizeable 41kWh battery pack offers about 300km of range.

Speaking of which, the Zoe only allows for AC charging, so cannot plug into the increasingly commonplace DC fast-charging network like other electric cars. Using a household plug requires 15 hours, a 7kW wall-box (from $3000 installed) cuts that to eight hours, or an AC station requires three hours.

The facelifted Zoe II (with DC-charger capability) has recently replaced this model elsewhere. It’s due locally in 2021.

Renault Zoe ZE 40 specifications
Motor: Synchronous electric
Transmission/drive: Single-speed reduction gear/front drive
Battery: 41kWh Lithium Ion
Power/torque: 68kW/220Nm
Consumption: 14.6kWh/100km
Electric range: 390km (claimed)
Warranty: 3yr/unlimited
Battery warranty: 5yr/100,000km
Safety rating: 5 stars

Hyundai Ioniq Electric - From $48,970 plus on-road costs

Image of blue Hyundai Ioniq

The Toyota Corolla-sized Hyundai Ioniq uniquely offers three electrification options – Hybrid, Plug-in hybrid and Electric.

The Electric has proved most popular since launching in 2018, combining the pure EV experience with choice (Elite or highly-equipped Premium from $53,010), spacious hatchback packaging for five adults and a decent boot (but no spare tyre), highly-responsive performance, agile cornering capabilities and excellent aftersales service.

2020’s Series II facelift brought fresh nose and tail treatments, a redesigned dashboard with a big touchscreen multimedia as part of a better overall user interface, and higher-quality fittings.

More importantly, a 12kW power jump results in even more spirited acceleration, smoother suspension for a comfier ride, a substantially quieter cabin, greater driver-assist safety like full stop/go adaptive cruise control, and more than 100km of extra range from a 10kWh-larger battery-pack upgrade.

Cleverly, paddle shifters alter the force of regenerative braking so you can speed up and slow down by merely pressing and depressing the throttle. But home charging now takes up to 17.5 hours, a 7kW wall-box installation (from $3000) slashes that to 6.25 hours, while a DC station requires about 50 minutes for around 80 per cent charge.

The upshot of all this makes the likeable Ioniq Electric our least expensive family-friendly electric car.

Hyundai AE.3 Ioniq Electric specifications
Motor: Synchronous electric
Transmission/drive: Single-speed reduction gear/front drive
Battery: 38.3kWh Lithium Ion
Power/torque: 100kW/295Nm
Consumption: 13.8kWh/100km
Electric range: 311km
Warranty: 5yr/unlimited
Battery warranty: 8yr/160,000km
Safety rating: 5 stars

Nissan Leaf - From $49,990 plus on-road costs

Image of red Nissan Leaf

Nissan’s game-changing Leaf launched in the early 2010s as the first modern electric car, became history’s bestselling electric car (until Tesla’s Model 3 eclipsed it this year) and then underwent a complete redesign in 2017 to make it look less sci-fi and more conventional.

Still Corolla-sized, the Leaf II reached Australia in 2019 with a massive battery-pack boost (to 40kWh) to address the earlier iteration’s most glaring issue – low range between recharges – effectively doubling it, while simultaneously gaining more muscle for unexpectedly forceful acceleration thanks to a gutsy 110kW electric motor.

There’s now also far-better steering for more precise handling, a high-resistance throttle setting so when backing off, the Nissan slows down as if it were being braked, and most driver-assist safety like autonomous emergency braking, imminent collision alerts and a surround-view camera, but no adaptive cruise control sadly.

With a home socket about 17.5 hours is required to recharge, a 7kW wall-box installation (from $3000) cuts that by 10 hours and a DC station needs about 60 minutes to go from 20 to 80 percent charged.

It all enhances what was already a sound package – comparative affordability, reasonable space, comfy seating, a huge boot (with a temporary spare) and very intuitive controls, making it simple and easy drive.

Nissan ZE1 Leaf specifications
Motor: Synchronous electric
Transmission/drive: Single-speed reduction gear/front drive
Battery: 40kWh Lithium Ion
Power/torque: 110kW/320Nm
Consumption: 17.1kWh/100km
Electric range: 270km
Warranty: 5yr/unlimited
Battery warranty: 8yr/160,000km
Safety rating: 5 stars

Renault Kangoo Maxi ZE - From $49,990 plus on-road costs

Image of blue Renault Kangoo van

Only one delivery van in Australia has zero tailpipe emissions.

Developed for congested cities where excess vehicle noise and pollution are heavily taxed, the Kangoo EV’s 200km range makes it ideal as a short-haul workhorse, with its long body, four square metre load capacity and 640kg payload. Kudos to Renault, too, for making it possible to kit out the EV version as per the normal petrol/diesel versions.

While not fast with a top speed of just 130km, the French van is quick off the mark, pulls hard and is exceptionally smooth and quiet for a hollow box. Additionally, the underpinnings are (albeit older) Megane hatch-based, so it steers, corners, rides and stops much like a car.

Like Renault’s Zoe, the Kangoo only allows for AC charging, so cannot plug into the burgeoning DC fast-charging network. Charging times vary from up to 17 hours (regular household plug), 11 hours with a 7kW wall-box, to 9.5 hours at the less-common AC stations – or about 30km after 50 minutes.

Available overseas since 2011, the Kangoo electric car is showing its age with no AEB or other driver-assist systems, but still provides basics like airbags, stability control, anti-lock brakes and reverse camera, while the cabin is comfy, stylish and practical.

Renault Kangoo Maxi ZE 33 specifications
Motor: Synchronous electric
Transmission/drive: Single-speed reduction gear/front drive
Battery: 33kWh Lithium Ion
Power/torque: 44kW/226Nm
Consumption: 12kWh/100km (claimed)
Electric range: 200km (claimed)
Warranty: 3yr/unlimited
Battery warranty: 5yr/100,000km
Safety rating: 4 stars

MG ZS EV - From $55,000 driveaway (estimated)

Image of MG ZS EV

MG Motor is set to release a revised version of its 100-only limited-run ZS EV launched in late 2019 before the end of 2020 in Australia.

Imported from China, the ZS is a light SUV in the mould of the Mazda CX-3 rather than the larger Hyundai Kona EV. Though designed for urban conditions, it is agreeably roomy with a reasonably generous cargo capacity.

Similarly, the ZS EV uses its small dimensions to good effect with strong performance, though the 2019 version’s range is a little on the weak side at 262km. MG reckons a 50kW fast charger needs 40 minutes to replenish 80 per cent of the battery pack, while a 7kW wall-box at home needs under eight hours.

Reviewers have criticised the existing ZS EV’s suspension as feeling too stiff over bumps, while the steering lacks the responsiveness expected from a sporty model wearing the storied MG badge. The revised version may have since improved in both areas.

Pricing was unavailable at the time of publication, but MG Australia has already inferred that it will cost considerably more than the pre-facelift ZS EV, since that was offered at a special introductory price of $46,990 driveaway to help stoke demand.

MG ZS EV specifications
Motor: Synchronous electric
Transmission/drive: Single-speed reduction gear/front drive
Battery: 44.5kWh Lithium Ion
Power/torque: 105kW/353Nm
Consumption: 18.6kWh/100km
Electric range: 262km
Warranty: 7yr/160,000km
Battery warranty: 7yr/160,000km
Safety rating: 5 stars

Mini Cooper SE First Edition - From $54,800 plus on-road costs

Image of Mini Cooper SE First Edition

Fresh from England is the electric Mini, blending a sporty retro groove with progressive EV engineering courtesy of the BMW i3.

Based on the iconic Cooper S, the SE’s powerful electric motor drives the front wheels, fed by a 32.6kWh battery pack located under the back seat to keep the centre of gravity low.

Though comparatively small with a low 233km range (some similarly-priced electric cars exceed 300km), the battery pack’s compactness actually underlines this Mini’s positioning as an eco-urban runabout for busy singles/couples, since an 80 per cent top-up is possible in 35 minutes via a 50kW rapid charger – though a $3000-plus 7kW wall-box will kick that up to 6.5 hours while a normal home plug can exceed 15 hours.

That said, that dinky battery pack’s lightness and lowness aid acceleration (hitting 100km/h almost as quickly as the fizzy Cooper S) and handling respectively, resulting in speedy cornering. Fun athleticism is the name of the game here.

The rest is familiar, from the roomy front cabin, tight two-seater rear and short-but-deep boot, to the stylised dash with circular motifs, toggle switches and sturdy build. Add expensive options that should be standard (like adaptive cruise) and a stingy warranty, and this is literally the Mini of electric cars.

Mini Cooper SE specifications
Motor: Synchronous electric
Transmission/drive: Single-speed reduction gear/front drive
Battery: 32.6kWh Lithium Ion
Power/torque: 135kW/270Nm
Consumption: 16.8kWh/100km
Electric range: 233km
Warranty: 3yr/unlimited
Battery warranty: 8yr/160,000km
Safety rating: 5 stars

Hyundai Kona EV - From $60,740 plus on-road costs

Image of blue Hyundai Kona

If proof of Hyundai’s desire to dominate electrification is needed, the Kona EV is it.

Yes, going electric doubles the Kona’s price, but the small SUV impresses with its big (64kWh) battery and powerful (150kW) motor, to deliver a Tesla-teasing 449km range as well as unexpectedly brisk point-to-point acceleration.

Plus, the Kona EV hunkers down to steer, corner and grip roads with speed and precision, backed up by a long list of standard driver-assist safety and convenience features.

Recharging from empty using a household outlet can take 28 hours or just 60 minutes to get to 80 per cent charge using a 100kW DC rapid charger station at the other extreme. A $3000 7kW wall-box needs 9.5 hours.

Being a small SUV, space is fine up front if a little tight for legroom in the back, the driving position is high for confident vision and the dash is designed to be as easy and unintimidating as possible.

Compromises do exist compared to the petrol version – including high pricing, a smaller boot (by 29 litres) and a switch from a spare wheel to a tyre-inflation kit – but the Kona EV’s strengths should convert many to electrification.

Hyundai Kona EV specifications
Motor: Synchronous electric
Transmission/drive: Single-speed reduction gear/front drive
Battery: 64kWh Lithium Ion
Power/torque: 150kW/395Nm
Consumption: 14.7kWh/100km
Electric range: 449km
Warranty: 5yr/unlimited
Battery warranty: 8yr/160,000km
Safety rating: 5 stars

Tesla Model 3 - From $67,900 plus on-road costs

Image of red Tesla Model 3

America’s Model 3 is the most affordable Tesla ever, beginning from nearly $68,000 for the Standard Range Plus single-motor rear-drive, stretching beyond $100,000 for the Performance dual-motor AWD.

A victim of its own global success, the four-door sedan arrived three years late in Australia during mid-2019 and has since dethroned Nissan’s Leaf as history’s best-ever selling electric car.

Reasons include strikingly sleek styling, with a modern, minimalist and airy cabin, startling acceleration, searing performance – stretching to supercar-scaring speeds (exceeding 260km/h) in the upper grades – and phenomenally stable and secure handling.

Just as important, 400km-plus of anxiety-minimising real-world range for proper long-distance EV driving is also possible, backed by Tesla’s own ‘Supercharger’ stations which can replenish most of that power in under one hour. A wall-box at home takes about eight hours, or over a day using a regular plug.

The Model 3 may seem basic, but equipment levels are surprisingly high, while the company’s well-publicised Autopilot (for $8000) brings automatic lane changing, automated parking and adaptive cruise control. Regular over-the-air updates will enable even broader autonomous-driving tech, as future legislation allows.

Downsides include patchy quality, technological glitches, a fiddly tablet interface, heat from the glass roof and limited headroom, but the Model 3 remains an electric car of remarkable bandwidth.

Tesla Model 3 specifications
Motor: Synchronous electric
Transmission/drive: Single-speed reduction gear/rear or AWD
Battery: 50-75kWh Lithium Ion
Power/torque: 260-430kW/500-750Nm
Consumption: 14.9-16.6kWh/100km
Electric range: 409-560km
Warranty: 4yr/80,000km
Battery warranty: 8yr/160,000km
Safety rating: 5 stars

BMW i3s 120Ah - From $70,900 plus on-road costs

Image of red BMW i3s

BMW’s i3 hatch has never caught on, despite winning awards and up until recently being offered with an optional tiny scooter engine to quell concerns about EV range. The latter, along with high prices, low equipment levels and strange styling, have kept buyers away.

Now purely EV-only, the racier i3s brings nearly twice the battery capacity than the 2014 original, with a bigger motor providing a heady rush of strong, silent acceleration and speed. About 80 per cent of charge is possible in 45 minutes at a 50kW DC fast-charging station, a 7kW wall-box at home takes around eight hours, extending to nearly 20 hours using a normal household outlet.

BMW fans should revel in the i3s’ sharp steering responses that enable pin-point handling and plenty of reassuring control. The interior, meanwhile, is still beautifully designed and executed, with lofty seating, outstanding vision and lovely materials.

On the flipside, the i3s’ range – though better than ever – still trails cheaper mainstream alternatives, the hard suspension results in a bumpy ride and the rear-hinged side doors are a nuisance to use as they require the front ones to open first. Throw in a small cargo area and poor warranty and this four-seater is strictly for urban singles/couples only.

BMW i3s specifications
Motor: Synchronous electric
Transmission/drive: Single-speed reduction gear/rear drive
Battery: 42.2kWh Lithium Ion
Power/torque: 135kW/270Nm
Consumption: 16.1kWh/100km
Electric range: 283km
Warranty: 3yr/unlimited
Battery warranty: 8yr/100,000km
Safety rating: 5 stars

Polestar 2 - From $70,000 (estimated)

Image of white Polestar 2

Swedish carmaker Volvo has an in-house EV performance brand called Polestar, with the Polestar 2 confirmed as its first model for Australia.

Expected late this year or in early 2021, the handsome, spacious and sleek five-door hatchback is taking aim at the super-successful Tesla Model 3, and will have dual electric motors and a 78kWh battery pack, to offer around 470km of range, while also being able to dash to 100km/h from standstill in under five-seconds flat. So, not quite as fast as the American, but not too far off either.

While produced in China, the 2 will be equipped to Volvo’s usual extremely high safety standards, so will include the latest driver-assist safety equipment and semi-autonomous technology to avoid collisions. The five-seater interior will also be highly specified, reflecting the Polestar’s premium positioning, with plenty of luxury options to help push the price northwards. Cargo capacity is rated at a handy 405 litres.

European data shows that charging using a household plug will take more than 37 hours, or one-third of that with the optional 7kW wall-box installation.

Volvo says by 2025 half of its range will be pure electric cars and the other half hybrid. The Polestar 2 is only the beginning for the resurgent Swedish marque.

RELATED: Hybrid cars available in Australia in 2020 »

Polestar 2 specifications
Motor: AC synchronous electric
Transmission/drive: Single-speed reduction gear/AWD
Battery: 78kWh Lithium Ion
Power/torque: 300kW/660Nm*
Consumption: 15.4kWh/100km*
Electric range: 470km
Warranty: 5yr/unlimited*
Battery warranty: 8yr/160,000km*
Safety rating: 5 stars

Tesla Model Y - From $100,000 (estimated)

Image of blue Tesla Model Y

Though based on the compact Model 3 sedan, the Model Y is longer, taller and wider, putting it firmly in the medium-SUV size bracket.

Due late this year or in early 2021, two grades with dual motors will be offered – the Long Range with 505km of range and the flagship Performance, dropping range down to 480km. Highlighting the Y’s sporty focus, acceleration is strong right from the get-go, backed up by sharp handling and exceptional all-weather grip.

Tesla’s Supercharger Network of EV charging stations can provide hundreds of kilometres of charge in about one hour, or otherwise it increases to 1.5 days plugged in at home, around 12 hours using an optional 7kW home wall-box, or a few hours at a public charging facility.

Like the Model 3, the Y adopts the minimalist tablet dashboard look, while deep windows bring a spacious and airy feel. Where fitted, the third row can be laid flat to increase cargo capacity beneath the tailgate.

Options should include Autopilot, bringing automatic lane changing, automated parking and adaptive cruise control, while like all Teslas, over-the-air software updates will also be a feature.

More information, including pricing and specification, will be announced closer to the Y’s on-sale date.

Tesla Model Y specifications
Motor: AC synchronous electric
Transmission/drive: Single-speed reduction gear/AWD
Battery: 75kWh Lithium Ion
Power/torque: 258-340kW/527-639Nm
Consumption: 14.4-15.1kWh/100km
Electric range: 480-505km
Warranty: 4yr/80,000km
Battery warranty: 8yr/160,000km
Safety rating: 5 stars

Jaguar I-Pace EV400 - From $124,100 plus on-road costs

Image of silver Jaguar I-Pace

Until recently Jaguar has mostly been about traditional English sedans for the pipes-and-slippers set. How things change, as the bolt-from-the-blue I-Pace proves.

The sleek five-seater crossover is designed to take on the Tesla Model S, but with more family-orientated SUV packaging. There’s ample space for five adults, sumptuous seating and a massive boot beneath that practical rear hatch, while the high-tech, elegantly styled dash features intuitive controls, tactile materials and plenty of storage.

With an electric motor at each end driving all four wheels, acceleration is startling. The all-wheel drive takes corners quickly and securely no matter what the weather or road conditions and is another I-Pace strength, emphasising the Jaguar’s high-speed balance and control.

Real-world range is around 360km, but that 90kWh battery pack needs up to two days to charge at home, so invest in a circa-$3000 7kW wall-box to slash that back to 12 hours. Public stations with 50kW rapid chargers can manage 270km per hour, or 400km/hr using the rare 100kW outlets.

Downsides include some un-premium plastics inside, poor rear vision, expensive options and a lousy warranty. Still, the I-Pace has catapulted Jaguar to the pointy end of the EV world.

Jaguar I-Pace specifications
Motor: AC synchronous electric
Transmission/drive: Single-speed reduction gear/AWD
Battery: 90kWh Lithium Ion
Power/torque: 249kW/696Nm
Consumption: 20kWh/100km
Electric range: 470km
Warranty: 3yr/100,000km
Battery warranty: 8yr/160,000km
Safety rating: 5 stars

Audi e-tron SUV - From $137,700 plus on-road costs

Image of blue Audi SUV

Though late to the EV party, Audi’s e-tron is a progressive medium-sized luxury SUV.

Two battery-pack models are available – the 230kW/540Nm 50 with 71kWh and 300kW/664Nm 55 with 95kWh. Located on each axle, a pair of electric motors drive all four wheels.

Both grades offer silent, stirring and instantaneous acceleration responses, as well as competent steering and excellent roadholding capabilities, but the $146,700 55 is more-closely aligned with the (smaller) Jaguar I-Pace and Mercedes EQC rivals in terms of range and performance (436km versus the 50’s 300km).

Helpfully, the Audi can accommodate the coming 150kW-plus ultra-rapid chargers, allowing a refill in 50 minutes. As it stands, standard home plugs need almost two days and a 7kW wall-box option 14 hours, while fast-charge stations can supply about 200km in 75 minutes. All are typical big-battery EV charging times.

The e-tron’s rich interior looks and feels expensive, and operates beautifully, with several screens including a pair replacing conventional exterior mirrors. There’s an abundance of space and practicality, a massive boot, air suspension for a cocooning ride and a host of driver-assist safety systems. However, Audi’s warranty is behind industry standards and options are expensive.

Still, as tech-heavy designer luxury electric cars go, the dynamic e-tron SUV is a standout.

Audi e-tron 50 (55 in brackets) specifications
Motor: AC synchronous electric
Transmission/drive: Single-speed reduction gear/AWD
Battery: 71kWh/95kWh Lithium Ion
Power/torque: 230kW/540Nm (300kW/664Nm)
Consumption: 23.6kWh/100km (22kWh/100km)
Electric range: 300km (436km)
Warranty: 3yr/unlimited
Battery warranty: 8yr/160,000km
Safety rating: 5 stars

Mercedes-Benz EQC 400 - From $137,900 plus on-road costs

Image of white EQC

Surprisingly Mercedes’ first electric car in Australia, the EQC is based on the GLC medium SUV, but shares no body or interior panels.

Designed to be highly functional and user-friendly, it seats five people comfortably, boasts a large cargo area and is packed with equipment, backed up by a full array of driver-assist safety.

With a combined 300kW/760Nm from two electric motors, the EQC is a feverish performer, sprinting off the line with seamless urge for something so large. Furthermore, the electric Benz transcends its size or mass through tight turns, thanks to a low centre of gravity, light but responsive steering and sophisticated suspension. The result is incredibly flat and composed handling.

Another highlight is the EQC’s brilliant refinement, pampering its occupants in isolated luxury even over bad or bumpy roads. If only most Mercedes rode this well.

As with all high-capacity battery packs, the German EV needs nearly two days to fully recharge from empty using a regular household outlet, 12 hours with an optional 7kW wall-box or about 1.5 hours with the super-rapid 110kW stations (if you can find one).

Throw in a decent warranty, and the EQC is an exceptionally well-considered first EV effort for Mercedes. Expensive options aside, there’s much to recommend.

Mercedes-Benz EQC 400 specifications
Motor: AC synchronous electric
Transmission/drive: Single-speed reduction gear/AWD
Battery: 80kWh Lithium Ion
Power/torque: 300kW/760Nm 
Consumption: 21.4kWh/100km 
Electric range: 417km
Warranty: 5yr/unlimited
Battery warranty: 8yr/160,000km
Safety rating: 5 stars

Audi e-tron SUV Sportback - From $148,700 plus on-road costs

Image of silver Audi sport

BMW has made a fortune turning the boxy X5 SUV into the swoopier X6 SUV coupe, and Audi hopes for similar dividends with the e-tron Sportback – an e-tron SUV but with a sleek five-door liftback shape, 20mm less headroom and shallower luggage area. Other than that, the two e-trons are virtually identical under the skin.

This means two battery-pack models – the 50’s 71kWh and more powerful 55’s 95kWh, as well as an electric motor on each axle, for reassuring all-wheel drive grip.

The Sportback is identically refined yet rapid off the line (especially the sprightlier 55), providing a quiet and calm driving experience, backed up by slightly sharper steering for more-involving cornering, according to overseas reports. Meanwhile, the standard air suspension balances fine control and a comfy ride. Along with the sumptuous cabin, it is consistent with Audi’s luxury reputation.

Both e-trons offer the same 150kW-plus ultra-rapid charge capability for 50-minute refills or an optional 7kW wall-box (14 hours), in lieu of the 48 hours needed using a normal home socket or several hours at a public EV station.

The Sportback’s warranty is similarly meagre too, while the world’s first EV coupe SUV also commands an $11,000 premium over its SUV twin.

Audi e-tron 50 Sportback (for the 55, see brackets) specifications
Motor: AC synchronous electric
Transmission/drive: Single-speed reduction gear/AWD
Battery: 71kWh (95kWh) Lithium Ion
Power/torque: 230kW/540Nm (300kW/664Nm)
Consumption: 23.2kWh/100km (22.7kWh/100km)
Electric range: 347km (446km)
Warranty: 3yr/unlimited
Battery warranty: 8yr/160,000km
Safety rating: 5 stars

Tesla Model S - From $140,169 plus on-road costs

Image of red Tesla Model S

Gamechanger, disruptor, revolutionary… whatever it’s labelled, the Model S’ influence has profoundly reshaped luxury and performance since launching locally in 2014.

Continuously improved with ever-evolving tech, including the AutoPilot semi-autonomous driving system (where allowed), the head-turning five-door liftback also unshackled the EV from its urban tether. Nowadays it offers more than 600km in Long Range grade, or, if desired, Ferrari-shaming neck-snapping acceleration in Performance guise (from $164,869) – though either will thrill and delight.

An electric motor at both ends drives such dynamic responses, fed by a huge 100kWh battery pack that needs nearly 50 hours to charge using a home plug, more than 15 hours with an available 7kW wall-box or half that with an industrial 22kW three-phase plug. Meanwhile, Tesla’s Supercharging Network demolishes these times down from 65 minutes for 320km to 40 minutes for 550km of range using the most powerful charger where available.

Though roomy and airy with an enormous amount of luggage space, the interior is starting to look a bit cheap and dated for the money, build quality remains iffy and desirable extras can be very expensive.

Yet the Model S still demonstrates the potential and ease of electric car ownership with breathtaking conviction.

Tesla Model S Long Range (for the Performance, see brackets) specifications
Motor: AC synchronous electric
Transmission/drive: Single-speed reduction gear/AWD
Battery: 100kWh Lithium Ion
Power/torque: 350kW/750Nm (615kW/1000Nm)
Consumption: 19kWh/100km (19.3kWh/100km)
Electric range: 624km (593km)
Warranty: 4yr/80,000km
Battery warranty: 8yr/240,000km
Safety rating: 5 stars

Tesla Model X - From $151,869 plus on-road costs

Image of white Tesla Model X

Billed as the world’s safest SUV, the striking Model X is heavily derived from the Model S liftback sedan.

Available in five or seven-seater formats, there is a massive amount of space inside, while accessing the expansive cabin’s third row via the novel gullwing ‘Falcon Wing’ doors is easy.

The dash is largely Model S-derived, meaning a huge touchscreen and sparse layout, but with myriad storage. Material and build quality are below par for this price point while options can be very pricey.

With an electric motor on each axle for all-wheel drive, the Model X has no problem getting its prodigious power to the ground, for brutally muscular yet silky performance. It also corners as if magnetised to the road, backed up by pleasingly cushy suspension.

As per the Model S, recharging takes time – using a regular household plug needs about 50 hours, the optional 7kW wall-box cuts that to 15 hours, or nearly eight hours via a 22kW industrial plug, while Tesla’s Supercharging Network claims about 65 minutes for 280km and up to 40 minutes for 480km.

The styling is controversial, and pricing can be stratospheric, but the Model X is arguably the world’s most interesting SUV.

Tesla Model X Long Range (for the Performance, see brackets) specifications
Motor: AC synchronous electric
Transmission/drive: Single-speed reduction gear/AWD
Battery: 100kWh Lithium Ion
Power/torque: 350kW/750Nm (615kW/1000Nm)
Consumption: 22.6kWh/100km (23.6kWh/100km)
Electric range: 507km (487km)
Warranty: 4yr/80,000km
Battery warranty: 8yr/240,000km
Safety rating: 5 stars

Porsche Taycan - From $191,100 plus on-road costs

Image of silver Porsche Taycan

Porsche’s first electric car is also Australia’s most expensive, arriving later this year in $191,100 4S, $269,100 Turbo and $339,100 Turbo S grades.

All Taycans are all-wheel drive, with an electric motor on each axle. The 4S uses a 79.2kWh battery pack or optional 93.4kWh ‘dual-deck’ item that’s standard on the others to extend range. Offering fierce acceleration, top speed is limited to 250km/h, aided by exceptionally-fine aerodynamics.

Porsche claims the Taycan leverages its storied sports-car engineering knowhow, with sophisticated steering and computer-controlled suspension components for high-speed handling and roadholding prowess, while leading braking and driver-assist safety tech help keep the performance EV in control.

At nearly five metres long, the slinky Taycan emulates the Tesla Model S’ shape, seats four in cosseting comfort and includes front and rear luggage compartments.

Currently, the Taycan is alone with an 800V electrical system – double that of other electric cars – which gives it high-flow capacity from the coming ultra-rapid charging stations for incredibly fast top-ups. 100km is achievable in five minutes. For now, 36.5 hours is needed plugging in at home, or 11.5 hours with a 7kW wall-box; going to fast-charge station can bring 240km in an hour, or over 500km in 30 minutes if a rare 100kW-plus rapid outlet is available.

Porsche Taycan specifications
Motor: AC synchronous electric
Transmission/drive: Two-speed/AWD
Battery: 79.2 or 93.4kWh Lithium Ion
Power/torque: 390-560kW/640-1050Nm
Consumption: 19.5 to 22.3kWh/100km
Electric range: 407 to 450km
Warranty: 3yr/unlimited
Battery warranty: 8yr/160,000km
Safety rating: 5 stars

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Electric range is quoted using the World harmonised Light vehicle Testing Procedure (WLTP), or otherwise are manufacturers’ claims
*overseas data