It's been almost three years since plug-in vehicles went mainstream in Canada.
And while adoption has been slow, there's a notable increase in plug-in vehicles coming to market shortly.
Here's what's hitting the market in the remainder of 2014 and into 2015:
Kia Soul EV
The all-electric version of Kia's urban compact box arrives in October, and promises 160 kilometres of range, and only slightly less in winter – and this may be a conservative figure, as a brief test drive last March in temperatures just above freezing determined that it was capable of an estimated 193 km. It loses little cargo space to the gas Soul, but will be priced about $8,000 more. The well-equipped base Soul EV will start around $35,000, and closer to $38,000 in its top trim.
Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid, Panamera S E-Hybrid, 918 Spyder
Expected to arrive in November, the Cayenne S E-Hybrid will be the first luxury plug-in SUV sold in Canada, replacing the Cayenne S Hybrid. Using a supercharged 3.0-litre V-6 engine and an enlarged electric motor to offer 416 horsepower, it can reach a top electric-only speed of 125 km/h. The Cayenne plug-in will start at $86,800, and offer 18 km to 36 km of gas-free driving, making its combined New European Driving Cycle fuel efficiency about half of what the already frugal Cayenne diesel uses. The Panamera S E-Hybrid four-door also receives a $3,000 lower sticker price for 2015, the plug-in now starting at $110,000. By year's end, Porsche will be the only brand to offer three plug-in vehicles in Canada, including the 887-hp, $845,000 (U.S.) 918 Spyder.
BMW i8, i3
Arriving this fall, the i8 is a futuristic challenger to the Audi R8 and Porsche 911. Offering supercar acceleration (0-100 km/h in 4.4 seconds) from a turbocharged gas three-cylinder engine combined with a lithium-ion rechargeable 7.1 kWh battery, it offers up to 22 km of EPA-rated all-electric range. Starting at $145,000, this two-seater with jump-seats has a lightweight carbon-fibre reinforced plastic body shell to reduce weight and achieve Toyota Prius-like fuel efficiency. The i3 will be BMW's volume model for the ecoconscious i-brand. On sale in Canada since June, the i3 city hatchback offers a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-rated electric range of 130 km, or 240 km with a 660cc range-extending gas engine.
Canada's perennial plug-in sales champ, the next-generation Volt will be introduced at the Detroit auto show in January, GM has confirmed, with the 2016 model to arrive in Canada by the end of next year. The Volt will finally receive a fifth seat, a lower price, and a smaller, more fuel-efficient three-cylinder gasoline range-extending engine, according to trade paper Automotive News.
Nissan has finally bumped up sales incentives and increased its supply of electric Leafs to Canada after two years of intermittent supply issues that allowed the Tesla Model S to take the BEV sales crown in 2013. The $31,798 Leaf's 135-kilometre EPA range looks set to be overtaken by the low-volume Soul EV for most all-electric range in a vehicle priced less than $40,000.
Smart ForTwo ED
With a new Smart unveiled in Europe and headed for North America next year, chances are good that the electric ForTwo's eye-popping $99 per month lease price deal seen in Ontario this summer will return. The Smart ED's $26,990 starting price is the lowest plug-in price on the market.
With the first three high-speed Tesla Superchargers online in Squamish, B.C., Toronto and Cornwall, Ont. – and more on the way – the innovative California company says Model S owners will be able to drive the following routes by the end of the year: Toronto to Montreal, Montreal to Quebec City, Vancouver to Calgary, and Calgary to Edmonton. In early 2015, production will start on Tesla's first SUV, the all-wheel drive Model X. The auto maker also has unspecified plans to release an updated battery for its Roadster convertibles.
The $78,250 Cadillac ELR coupe is gorgeous but pricey. It's also relatively slow for a two-door in this price bracket, placing its emphasis on quiet and comfort. Using the same advanced powertrain as the Volt, but with a slightly larger motor and regeneration paddles, it offers an EPA-rated 59 km of all-electric range, or 544 km in total. Introduced early this year, perhaps the biggest item to watch for in 2015 will be if Canadian dealers match U.S. reports of five-figure discounts.
Note: Prices listed in this story do not reflect Ontario's $8,500 plug-in purchase incentive nor Quebec's $8,000 rebate.