The rise of electric cars has been at a slow, but steady rate. The modern-day electric vehicle (EV) pioneers such as the Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt, and Tesla Model S showed the public a glimpse into the potential electric future. Though expensive, limited on range, and lack of any charging infrastructure, these vehicles attracted early adopters.
Over time, battery technology improved, charging stations were built, and manufacturers of all kinds took a stab at an EV. After nearly 10 years and over 1 million EVs sales, it is well clear that electric is here to stay. In fact, California, the state with the most EVs, is estimated that one in every six new cars sold were electric in 2020. The state’s EV adoption rate goes well with the Governor’s recent goal to sell only electric cars by 2035.
While the early Leafs, Volts, and Model Ss became known as great first attempts, carmakers have learned a thing or two now about how to make a proper electric car.
No more are legacy car makers making electric variants of internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs) such as the Volkswagen e-Golf derived from the regular gas or diesel Golf. Today, manufacturers have taken a page or two from Tesla and are building EVs from the ground up on their own dedicated platform.
By designing and building an electric car on its own platform, carmakers are free to optimize for vehicle efficiency and highlight the electric flavor. By designing around the battery and electric motor, areas such as the trunk became open for discussion as they were previously occupied by the large fuel burning engine.
Additionally, with the iconic Tesla coined “skateboard” design, carmakers streched the wheelbase to account for the battery pack. By doing this, the cabin became larger and more spacious for people and cargo.
Most importantly, dedicated electric vehicle platforms enabled carmakers to produce EVs in volume with the performance and styling needed to persuade the mass market. With a dedicated platform, carmakers could sell a number of models within one template. This greatly reduces design and engineering costs.
At the end of the day, no matter how good it feels to try to make the planet more liveable, carmakers (or any business) must earn a profit to keep the lights on.
Electric vehicle platforms in 2021:
Tesla Model S/X
The first mass-produced electric vehicle platform was made by Tesla (surprised?). Tesla released the Model S in 2012, a luxury sedan, and the Model X, a luxury SUV, in 2015. To this day, these two vehicles are known as benchmarks to other manufacturers.
With all-electric range of over 400 miles, fast charging of 250 kW, and a “frunk” cargo space, this successful EV platform program allowed Tesla to create a whole new platform a few years later, which is designed for much higher volume and much lower cost.
GM technically had two electric vehicle platforms by 2015, however, the first of which, BEV1, only produced a single EV, the EV1, in limited quantities in the 1990s. This electric car, while praised by many, failed to reach any market success. At a return to EVs, GM announced that they would produce another dedicated, electric platform called the BEV2.
The BEV2 platform gave birth to the first affordable 200+ mile range electric car for the U.S. market. Released in late 2016, the Bolt, a compact hatchback, sold in decent numbers despite limited marketing efforts by the company.
Upcoming in mid-2021, GM readied the BEV2 platform for its second and final vehicle, the Bolt EUV (Electric Utility Vehicle as GM calls it). The Bolt EUV, is a larger crossover with similar specs to the Bolt.
Tesla Model 3/Y
Right after GM released the Chevy Bolt, Tesla released their take on an affordable electric car. While several thousand more expensive at launch, the Tesla Model 3, a compact sedan, became a massive hit. The vehicle was designed on a new platform, which supported new design and engineering lessons Tesla learned from the Model S/X platform.
In just a few years, Tesla managed to reach an annual production rate of over 300,000 vehicles throughout its multiple factories. But Tesla didn’t stop there. In early 2020, Tesla released the Model Y, a compact crossover, on the same platform.
Tesla suspects the Model Y to be an even larger success than the Model 3. Time will tell though it is very much likely as the crossover frenzy is live and well.
Caught in a disastrous emission scandal called, “Dieselgate”, Volkswagen licked its wounds in the mid 2010s. In an attempt to regain its renown, VW shifted gears away from “clean” diesel cars and towards electric. VW debuted its first dedicated electric vehicle platform, MEB, in 2017.
Spreading across multiple brands (VW, Audi, Skoda, Seat), VW group aimed to release dozens of new electric cars by 2025 on its MEB platform. As a master of vehicle production volume, VW acquired battery supply contracts, built and repurposed factories for EV production, and created a coast to coast DC Fast Charging network. Well, the latter was a requirement due to Dieselgate.
The first release for the U.S. market is the compact crossover, the ID.4. This vehicle aims to undercut the Tesla Model Y in price and sets a new precedent for the company’s electric future. It remains to be seen if Dieselgate is forgiven.
Riding on the coattails of the successful Kia Niro EV and Hyundai Kona EV, Hyundai/Kia/Genesis decided to also produce an electric vehicle platform to compete with other carmakers. The Niro and Kona EVs were the electric variants of the originally designed gas vehicle platform. While praised as both efficient and a great value, the electric car off a gas platform is full of compromises.
To resolve this and to increase EV sales, Hyundai/Kia/Genesis is set to debut their new platform, the E-GMP, in 2021. Hyundai will use the E-GMP platform on their new EV sub-brand, the Ioniq. To start, Hyundai will sell the Ioniq 5, 6, and 7. The Ioniq 5 will kick things off later this year.
Kia has revealed less information about how they will use the E-GMP platform. Little details are known except that they will release a similarly sized vehicle to the Ioniq 5 later this year too. Even less information is known about Genesis’s future EV plans.
What is known is that through this dedicated EV platform, these new Hyundai and Kia electric cars will be able to achieve long ranges, fast charging, and efficient use of passenger and cargo space.
Quickly after the release of the revised Bolt and new Bolt EUV from the BEV2 platform, GM will begin production of their latest electric vehicle platform, the BEV3. This new platform will continue the lessons learned from the previous two.
Additionally, through a uniquely engineered battery pack GM calls the “Ultium” battery, GM aims to significantly increase its EV sales. In fact, GM recently announced it will only sell electric cars by 2035.
The first two EVs of the BEV3 platform will be the GMC Hummer EV and Cadillac Lyriq. These two vehicles will begin sales later this year and in 2023, respectively. All in all, GM expects to sell over 10 EVs on this new electric vehicle platform.
Perhaps the most highly anticipated new EV in 2021, Rivian expects to make a large splash in both the EV and general auto market with the R1T and R1S. These all electric “adventure” truck and SUVs, respectively, will feature over 300 miles of range and quite quick charging.
While Rivian is a rookie carmaker, they have some serious investors including Amazon and Ford. With a MIT grad leading the helm as CEO, Rivian have positioned themselves to become another successful American EV automaker next to Tesla.
The R1T and R1S will ride on a shared platform. Of course, this platform is electric-only as Rivian, like Tesla, will only sell EVs. It remains to be seen if additional vehicles will be produced on this platform.
It is worth noting that a known third vehicle, an Amazon delivery van, will also be produced on this “skateboard” platform from Rivian. As part of the Amazon investment, Rivian will deliver 100,000 electric vans for the online commerce giant.
Through the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi alliance, the group intends to produce and sell future EVs on a (you guessed it) dedicated electric vehicle platform. While the Nissan Leaf was worldwide popular throughout the past 10 years, it’s time has come for the next generation of EVs.
As such, the alliance has plans for future EVs to be designed off their new EV-only platform, the CMF-EV. In the U.S., Nissan will take the lead with the Nissan Ariya later this year. As with other next generation EV platforms, the Nissan Ariya will be capable of over 300 miles of range per charge and quick charging.
Pricing is still speculative on the Ariya, however, it is anticipated that it will fall in line with other new entry crossover EVs, such as the VW ID.4, Hyundai Ioniq 5, or Ford Mustang Mach-E, at around $40,000 before incentives.
Lucid is another EV startup looking to compete against Tesla and other luxury automakers. Already Lucid has raised the bar when it comes to EV performance.
The soon-to-be released Lucid Air will feature over 500 miles of range on a single charge. Though fairly expensive, this luxury sedan urges Tesla to further increase the performance of their Model S to retain the “Range King” crown.
It remains to be seen what other EVs Lucid will release on their brand new platform, however, spy shots have seen a low-slung crossover winter testing. Like Tesla and Rivian, Lucid will only sell electric vehicles.
As you can see, there are many, many new electric vehicle platforms. Multiple each platform by 5 to 10 models and very quickly the number of EVs available in the U.S. rises. Each of these platforms are optimized for long range, quick charging, and ample passenger or cargo space.
Additionally, through a flexible platform, various vehicle segments, such as sedans, crossovers, trucks, or SUVs, can be appended to fit each car buyer’s needs. Furthermore, with a dedicated platform, the automaker is investing a lot of R&D into multiple EV models. Through this, a solid battery supply contract is needed. All of this together results in driving down the cost of the electric car.
Notably, automakers such as BMW, Ford, and Honda have yet to produce any electric vehicle platforms. At the moment, these carmakers are using traditional gas vehicle platforms for their few EV offerings.
A few years ago, a $30,000 EV had 100 miles of range and took at least an hour to charge. Today, for the same cost, there are EVs that can travel over 250 miles and charge in 30 minutes.
Furthermore, there will soon be electric large SUVs and trucks. These types of vehicles have very high drag coefficients. This means it takes a lot more energy to move the vehicle. And with less aerodynamics, means a larger battery (more cost) to travel the same distance as other vehicles. With electric vehicle platforms, these types of vehicles can finally be made at a reasonable price.
If any of these electric vehicle platforms have spiked your interest in getting an EV, feel free to reach out to us. As an EV consultant, we’ll help you select the electric car suited just for you. We’ll even search and apply to all available rebates to ensure you receive as much of the incentives as possible!
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Hi there! I’m the founder and project manager at Charged Future: the EV charging consultancy. Charged Future helps businesses achieve their EV charging goals. Specifically, I serve as the project manager for your EV charging project, which can save you both time and money! Additionally, I can search and apply to all eligible rebate applications, which can typically cover a large portion of the project cost.
2 thoughts on “Overview of Electric Vehicle Platforms in 2021”
This was a most informative tutorial on EV development going from most EV manufacturers.
Thanks! It certainly is exciting to see the shift towards electric.
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