Coming soon: Honda E, Mercedes EQS and Mini Electric
Don't buy a new car until you've read this – our ultimate guide to the new models coming in 2019 and beyond...
On sale December
The E is set to be the first electric Honda sold in Europe. A Renault Zoe rival, it's based on the 2017 Urban EV concept, whose blend of retro and futuristic styling proved so popular that it's hardly been changed at all for production
The real thing is somewhat more practical than the concept, however, with five doors rather than three, seating for five instead of four and more conventional-looking controls inside.
Built on Honda’s new bespoke electric car platform, the E is shorter than the Honda Jazz, but tall, with a wide windscreen and narrow pillars to aid vision.
Energy is supplied to a single motor by a high-density, lightweight battery pack that's able to transfer electricity both to and from the vehicle. This could allow owners to buy electricity from the grid when it’s cheap and sell it back when demand is high – a concept already explored by Nissan with its new Leaf.
The Honda E is expected to achieve an official range of around 155 miles. That’s considerably less range than you get from most of the latest mainstream electric cars but enough for city-based drivers to use on a daily basis.
On the outside, the E is the first model to have a Honda emblem that’s backlit in blue. It also has a panel between the headlights that can be used to display interactive messages, including advice for other drivers or charging status updates – at least on the concept car.
Although the interior isn't as futuristic as that of the show car, it still has a ‘floating’ dashboard, a set of simple air conditioning controls, a panoramic one-piece infotainment and instrument display and camera-based door mirrors that project images onto small screens on the front door panels, much like those on Audi’s electric E-tron SUV.
While the E is a small car, Honda is positioning it as a premium model, so it won’t be cheap to buy. We expect prices to start at around £28,000, pitching the Honda E in below the BMW i3, which currently starts at £34,445, but above the £27,290 Leaf. Bear in mind, however, that all electric cars are eligible for a £3500 grant from the Government.
On sale 2021
The EQC large SUV became the first electric Mercedes to enter production back in May. Yet before long, this zero-emissions equivalent to the GLC will be part of a big family; an EQA family hatchback, EQB family SUV and EQS luxury saloon have already been confirmed.
The EQS, previewed by the futuristic concept seen here, will also score a significant first, by being the first user of Mercedes’ dedicated new Modular Electric Architecture, or MEA. This means it avoids the compromises forced upon the EQC by its use of the GLC’s underpinnings; the EQS will be comparatively light (even if it’s still more than two tonnes), thanks to MEA’s mixing of traditional steel with aluminium and carbonfibre, and that’s great news for efficiency and therefore range.
Another crucial contributor to range is the car’s aerodynamic drag, so the EQS has a slippery shape, similar to that of Mercedes’ conventionally powered CLS, plus a sloped hatchback rear rather than a saloon boot.
Factor in the 100kWh battery (equalled in capacity only by Tesla’s Model S and Model X) and you get a claimed range of 435 miles. That’s 158 miles more than the EQC, 154 more than the Porsche Taycan and 56 more than the Model S, today’s range champion – or, in real terms, enough to get you from London to Manchester and back with no charging stop.
Speaking of which, the EQS can accept an electricity rate of 350kW, the fastest presently dispensed in the UK, meaning its battery can charge from empty to 80% in just 20 minutes.
With a motor on each axle, the EQS is able to alter the amount of energy that’s sent to each wheel to best suit the situation – or call on both to muster 470bhp and 560lb ft and enable a 0-62mph sprint time of just 4.5sec.
Another advantage of MEA, like any electric car ‘skateboard’ platform, is that the battery cells can be spread on the floor, giving a lower centre of gravity than a car with an engine. The EQS therefore promises nimbler handling than the S-Class, and this spicier character will be furthered by air suspension and tech that negates body roll during faster cornering.
Also thanks to the absence of an engine, the EQS has a truncated bonnet, making its interior roomier. There’s a flowing, yacht-inspired dashboard with digital instruments integrated into it, plus a huge touchscreen infotainment system on the centre console.
On sale Autumn
At the time, it seemed like a battery-powered Mini you could buy was only months away from showrooms but, 11 years later, we're still waiting.
Not for much longer, though, because a model called the Mini Electric will be introduced in 2019 and sold alongside petrol and diesel variants.
With its power supplied by the same battery and driving the same motor as used by the BMW i3, drivers can realistically expect to manage around 120 miles between charges. However, the Mini Electric should be cheaper than the i3, costing in the region of £26,000.