Before Tesla, electric supercars (and electric cars for that matter) weren't really on the map. However, thanks to Tesla's publicity efforts and it's success after success, top-end electric cars are competing for the cash of the rich and famous. It's worth noting, though, that electric cars don't have complicated engines that require substantial teams to engineer and electric cars are becoming more like a smartphone in terms of the way they're produced, announced and updated.
Just like OnePlus (or any number of less-well-known phone company) came out of nowhere and surprised the world with a competent smartphone that could keep up with the big boys, Tesla and other new kids on the block are now creating electric supercars that blow very expensive cars out of the water.
This isn't a celebration of all things Tesla, but they're definitely the benchmark when it comes to electric cars - especially as they have one of the best-range electric cars available on the market (with a 100D model expected to be announced any day now with industry leading range). This is a look ahead at the new carmakers that are appearing out of nowhere with unexpectedly brilliant supercars.
Faraday Future FFZERO1
The FFZERO1 has finally been announced, not at a car show, but at CES - the Consumer Electronics Show. With marketing copy on the Faraday Future website saying things like, "Our goal is to usher in the next generation of premium," you know you're looking at a car that is going to turn heads.
Faraday Future - already a team of more than 1,000 with some top talent in the automotive industry - want you to think of the FFZERO1 in an unusual way. They don't want you to think of the exterior of the car first, but rather the user experience. "The FFZERO1's user interface communicates critical information attractively, unobtrusively, and preemptively to ensure driver safety," says the website for the concept car. After this, we're shown the interior.
"Our goal was to build a car with a sixth sense for its driver’s needs—an advanced vehicle that offers thorough personalisation, seamless implementation of vehicle configurations, and effortless access to real-time data." This car is going to be yours - it will be unique. It will handle like you want it to handle, and it will drive like you want it to drive. There is also a 'Zero Gravity Driving Position' that is "inspired by NASA". This design is supposed to give you the ultimate comfort. It looks ridiculously luxurious.
The exterior of the car can simply be described as a sports car. It is a bold statement that, I'm certain, will tempt those who can afford it. It has the low body, aerodynamic design and exaggerated angles of a sports car. All built in carbon fibre no less.
NextEV NIO EP9
This is the world's fastest electric vehicle. So says NextEV, the Chinese manufacturer of the NIO EP9. How can they be so confident? Well, the EP9 has a 1,390bhp engine and can hit 0-60mph in 2.7 seconds.
NextEV also have a Formula E team that have tested this car on the track and confirmed that they set the lap record at the Nürburgring. With a top speed of 194mph, the company aren't just speculating that this car is faster than the others out there, so they will definitely be on the radar of any competitors.
Where the NIO EP9 beats the competition in important areas, it falls down in others. The top range of this car is 265 miles. Considering this vehicle also has a sporty design, not intended to carry many passengers, this is still 50 miles shorter than the Tesla Model X - a family car that can carry seven people.
The NIO EP9 doesn't look as over-the-top as the FFZERO1 though, and takes on the familiar design trends of a McLaren to boost its popularity. This could be the beginning of a roadmap that leads to consumer-friendly cars. Tesla openly admitted to a similar approach when it first released the Tesla Roadster. It went something like this: build a supercar and rich people will buy it, then - with the profits - build less expensive cars. Repeat. If it worked for Tesla, then it makes sense for other carmakers to follow the same trend.
LeEco LeSEE Pro
Okay, so this is either worrying, or perfectly normal in the futuristic world we live in. LeEco are probably best known for TVs, smartphones and other consumer products. They also make electric cars. The announcement of the car was, in a word, weird. I mean, Michael Bay (of Transformers fame - or infamy) was on stage, and that doesn't usually end well.
Early reviews of the design said that it was too heavy on the concept and that there wasn't much confidence in it becoming a production model. Reminder: this is a carmaker that also wants to sell you a TV, headphones, a bicycle and a smartphone. There is already a lot of speculation about their ability to produce any car, let alone a self-driving electric car.
Speculation aside, this car looks like a car you might actually see on your morning commute. It's a saloon with a sporty flair, and the usual bizarre innovations that usually come with a concept car, but eventually get ironed out when they realise nobody actually wants them. One of those innovations is a boot that slides out like a drawer - definitely not a dog-friendly car then?
We're moving closer to a Tesla Model S in terms of design with the LeSEE Pro though, so it's probable that we're moving closer to an affordable price, and that's likely to be the end-goal for a new car company like this. If you're cheaper than the rest, people will buy your car. At least, that's what LeEco hope.
Lucid Motors Saloon
What is likely to be the most normal-looking electric car out of the bunch still hasn't been announced. It has been teased though, and we can paint a pretty clear picture of what to expect.
Little is known about Lucid Motors' upcoming saloon car, but with some cropped high quality photography, and some tantalisingly edited images, we can see that it's going to be a saloon that looks more like a Jaguar than a future-car. There will be no Zero Gravity seats in this one (maybe - never say never).
From their website, it sounds like Lucid Motors are trying their hardest to make the most luxurious interiors in an electric vehicle. "Electrification allows our engineers to unlock new methods for achieving world-class interior space in a midsize footprint. By opening up the cabin, we are creating a new class of vehicle that is redefining what it means to experience comfort within and all around." This is intriguing. An electric carmaker that doesn't want to make me feel like I'm driving around in a spaceship.
A camouflaged Lucid Motors Saloon prototype made its way to LA Motor Show this week, but we can't wait to see the real thing in person. It's possible that this car is highest on Tesla's list of cars to worry about as it is likely going to be priced to sell, isn't going to look weird on the roads and promises everything that you'd expect from a Tesla - high speed, high acceleration, long range and more.
Ultimately, Tesla has the advantage here. It's been operating for longer and has a large profit flow that the other companies don't have yet. Elon Musk is also likely to have some tricks up his sleeve should a competitor come to the market that threatens it. It's highly likely that Tesla are working on some form of solar panel roof for future Tesla cars, especially with the acquisition of SolarCity (another Musk-owned company) and the development of Tesla Solar Roof Tiles for houses.
We don't think Tesla have anything to worry about just yet, but we're certainly excited to see new companies try. A bit of healthy competition will speed up innovation in the sector, and will hopefully result in more affordable, more luxurious and more autonomous vehicles being developed in the next decade.