Electric cars were once a novelty and often the target for much amusement, but no more. Things have changed considerably since the 'dark days' of the 1980s of failed early EVs such as the ill-fated Sinclair C5.
To be fair, the Sinclair C5 was technically speaking an electrically assisted pedal cycle but it was marketed for use as a one-person EV. In the last few years, there has been a literal explosion in companies offering their own models each tailored to specific needs and budgets.
Most large car manufacturers have 'stepped up to the plate' but there are some notable exceptions, like Peugeot, who plan to produce their own versions by 2030.
Not so long ago the public's appetite for EVs was limited due to their short range, long charge times and relatively large initial outlays. But recent developments in technologies, like batteries, and an ever-increasing availability of charging stations means their 'short' range is no longer really an issue.
To help 'put the icing on the cake' many countries also offer generous incentives and grants to help a prospective buyer make the move from combustion to electric-only vehicles.
The history of the electric car is older than you think
Although all-electric vehicles are 'all the rage' at the moment thanks to Tesla et al, that does not mean the technology is by any means new. You might be surprised to know that the first production EV actually hit the market in the late 1800s.
But EVs would not exist if it wasn't for the development of the Lead-Acid battery by French physicist Gaston Plante in 1859.
A famous example was the German-made Flocken Elektrowagen, that was produced in 1884. Other examples include another the Egger Lohner Electric Vehicle, or P1, that was produced by Ferdinand Porsche (yes the very same) in 1898.
His early offering could travel 50 miles (80 km) at a 'break-neck' speed of 22 mph (35 km/h). At this time, it was the fastest 'horseless wagon' and even won a 40 km EV race in 1899, in which almost 16 cars failed to finish out of 28.
These early electric vehicles had some early popularity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries but they were soon eclipsed by the more practical combustion engines that would come to dominate the market. The early EVs offered a level of comfort and ease of use unrivalled at the time with estimates of around 30,000 being built by the turn of the 20th Century.
What are the Best Electric Cars of 2018?
What follows is an abbreviated list of the best EVs on the market in 2018. We've expanded each entry further down the article to provide more pertinent information.
If we've missed any 'big hitters' please feel free to add your suggestions in the comments below.
This list is not exhaustive and is no particular order.
1- BMW i3
Please note the following prices do not include any Government incentives or grants that might apply. They are also in no particular order.
Price: $44,500 (£34,000)
Best Features: Options of pure electric or plug-in range extender forms
Unique features: Comes equipped with F1-spec carbon fiber construction
Advantages over others on the market: The i3 is one of the best electric cars on the market and the perfect choice for getting around the city. It has a very tight turning circle and has all the precision controls you'd expect from BMW. It also has a very good mpg-e compared to its other pure electric car competitors.
The BMW i3 is compact on the outside yet still spacious on the inside but does suffer from having a small trunk (boot for British readers) at the rear.
Reviews report that it has good acceleration, is agile and fun to drive and is easy to use thanks to its one-pedal driving controls.
It has a range of around 114 miles (184 km) but this can be extended to 180 (290 km) with the range extender accessory.
Price: £63,495 ($69,500)
Best Features: Charge time of 40 minutes from 0-80%, 94% aluminium build, two electric motors, Jaguar's unique design and build quality
Unique features: Being a Jaguar it comes with all the bells and whistles you'd expect. It looks great and drives even better. Did we mention it's an all-electric Jaguar?
Advantages over others on the market: Jaguar's unique design, good range, agile chassis
The Jaguar i-Pace is the company's first venture into the electric car market. It has been built from the ground up as a pure Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV). The car has an impressive 0-100 km in 4.8 seconds (4.5 for 0-60'ers) and a quoted range of 470 km (292 miles).
Like other best electric cars of 2018, the i-Pace allows owners to benefit from incentives like government grants, low road tax and reduced city-center tolls to name but a few.
Price: From £21,140 ($30,495)depending on model
Best Features: Compact size makes it ideal for urban driving, 30-minute charge rate at public high-speed charging stations (6 hours at home)
Advantages over others on the market: The e-Up's main advantage over other electric cars on our list is its relatively low price and compact design.
The VW e-Up looks cute but is a seriously small electric car. Although its acceleration is a little sluggish, with 0-62 mph (0-100 km) of 12.4 seconds, it will give you a 99-mile range on a single charge.
Price: From £18,420 ($23,496)
Best Features: Decent range of 250 miles (402 km) on an official test - 186 (299 km) in summer, 124 (199 km) in winter
Unique features: One of the cheapest and top electric cars on the market at the moment
Advantages over others on the market: Its main advantage is its price tag making it one of the most affordable electric cars
The Renault Zoe is small, reasonably priced and was designed as a bespoke electric vehicle (there are no diesel or petrol variants). The battery takes around 7 hours to charge fully at home or 0-80% in 40 minutes with a fast charger.
Many reviews for the Zoe praise its handling, quality, and range it is also Europe's number 1 best selling EV.
Price: Starting from $29,990 (£25,190)
Best Features: Sleek design, decent range (almost 200 miles - 322km)
Unique features: Multifunction all in one E-Pedal and Propilot (Self Driving) features (depending on model)
Advantages over others on the market: The Nissan Leaf, one of the first mass-market EVs, is back with an upgraded and improved version, the 2.0. The company makes a big hype of the E-pedal feature that lets you accelerate and brake all with one control.
It also features Automatic Emergency Braking, and it's ProPILOT Assist will literally transform your daily commute.
Price: From £32,000 (Yet to be released in the US)
Best Features: Decent 64 kWh battery that provides a range of 292 miles (470 km)
Unique features: 0-60 (0-100km) in 7.6 seconds with a top speed of 104 mph (67 km/h)
Advantages over others on the market: Hyundai's Kona Electric is one of their primary thrusts to break into the lucrative new electric cars market. Many reviews state that it is one of the more versatile out there for the price tag.
Although reports agree it is not very fun to drive, it is very practical.
Price: From £32,000 ($30,495)
Best Features: It's a Golf that's an electric vehicle - need we say more?
Unique features: First rate build quality, clever connectivity, silent powertrain
Advantages over others on the market: It looks like a 'conventional' Golf but is far less expensive to run and is one of the best looking electric cars.
For many, this is probably an ideal stepping stone into the EV market without sacrificing the looks of a conventional car. It looks great and comes with all the latest tech you'd expect.
Its range is a little lower than others on the list, at around 125 miles (201 km) on a full charge, but you get all the other benefits of VW engineering.
Price: From £58,600 ($77,000)
Best Features: Tesla's design style and engineering, Aluminium and Steel body, Luxury Saloon EV, Great safety features
Unique features: 0-60 (0-100 km) in 3 seconds, 300-mile range (482 km), Tesla Supercharger stations worldwide
Advantages over others on the market: Although on the steeper end of the price range on our list, our compilation wouldn't be complete without the Tesla Model S. Excellent quality, decent performance and oozing with style, Tesla's saloon EV is definitely worth a look if you're on the market for an electric vehicle.
Price: $35,000 (£27,400)
Best Features: It has one of the longest ranges 499km (310 miles) of any electric car for a similar price tag. It is also one of the quickest.
Unique features: Tesla provides over-the-air updates meaning the Model 3 will always always be improving. It can also be customized to suit your needs and wants.
Advantages over others on the market: The Tesla 3 comes with an advanced autopilot system as standard guided by 360 degrees, 250 meter-ranged, forward and rear radar and ultrasonic sensors.
It is also one of the best looking electric cars.
As you'd expect it is fully electric and can be charged over long journeys at any of the 10,000 Supercharger stations around the world in less than 30 minutes. According to Tesla, they are opening six new ones every week.
Price: From £30,000 ($33,950)
Best Features: 132-mile range (212 km), pleasant drive and decent performance
Unique features: Compact design, battery-electric hatchback
Advantages over others on the market: The Kia Soul EV is another conventionally designed all-electric car. The Soul EV's price is a little higher compared to other small electric cars but it does attract Government grants (where they apply).
Its range is lower than others on the list but its size makes it ideal for urban driving (and parking more to the point). It also begs for space in the trunk (boot) with a relatively small 281-liter capacity.
Price: From £16,000 ($20,409)
Best Features: Compact design makes it ideal for urban use
Unique features: Smart Fortwo's diminutive size but an EV, 0-60 (0-100 km) in 11.5 seconds, max range 160 km
Advantages over others on the market: If you haven't already got the message it is one of the smallest eco-friendly electric vehicles on the market. Although not ideal for long-range driving, it is just perfect for getting around town.
It looks and drives like a combustion engine Fortwo but its practicality does wain once you venture outside of urban centers.
Price: From £29,495 ($29,500 - only available in CA atm)
Best Features: The Ioniq is primarily a family car, 124-mile range (200 km)
Unique features: The Ioniq comes in a variety of options including hybrid or plug-in hybrid versions
Advantages over others on the market: If you are feeling a little nervous to 'take the plunge' into the all-electric-car market, the Hyundai Ioniq might be worth a look. It is a family car that comes with a variety of powertrains.
You can choose from pure electric to other hybrid versions and it comes with decent cabin space and a large trunk.
Price: From $32,995 (not yet available in UK)
Best Features: The 500e comes equipped with the Uconnect in-dash system, 84-mile range (135 km)
Unique features: If you are a fan of the Fiat 500's looks this is probably a good choice for you. Its small size is also ideal for getting around town and parking.
Advantages over others on the market: The Fiat 500e apparently loses Fiat money everytime one is sold. It also attracts criticism for it being a so-called "Compliance Car" as it was built to meet the needs of rigorous Californian and CAFE regulations.
Despite this, the Fiat 500e is a fun-looking EV and is, by all accounts, incredibly fun to drive. Some even state that it is faster than its combustion engine cousin. It does linger down the bottom scale when it comes to the range but it is definitely at least worth a look.
Price: From £83,000 ($105,874)
Best Features: 291-mile (468 km) range, room for seven, NHTSA 5-Star safety features
Unique features: Gullwing doors are ideal for tight car parking situations
Advantages over others on the market: The Tesla Model X comes with all the 'bells and whistles' we've come to expect from Tesla. It has a decent amount of interior space that makes it one of the best electric cars for kids.
According to their website, the Model X is the "safest, quickest, most capable sports utility vehicle ever—with standard all-wheel drive, best in class storage and seating for up to seven adults."
It's pricey but you do get what you are paying for.
Upcoming electric cars
Here's a small selection of some of the exciting up-and-coming EVs that will be hitting the market very soon (hopefully).
Availablity: Late 2018-2019
The Morgan EV3 is one of the more uniquely designed EVs yet to hit the market. It is advertised as weighing a paltry 500 kg and should have a 150-mile range (241 km).
‘What if an all-electric vehicle was bespoke made, handcrafted and exhilarating to drive?’. That pretty much sums up the first of our bonus entries on our list of best electric vehicles for 2018.
For the cherry on the top, buying one of these means you get to celebrate traditional British motor manufacturing by owning a literal piece of history. Win, win!
The electric version of the classic Morgan Three-Wheeler is a sight to behold. It is a beautiful thing to look at and incredibly fun to drive.
Developed in partnership with Frazer-Nash Energy Systems, this EV is only for the bravest of drivers. It has all the charm of the classic car with the benefits of cutting-edge electric vehicle technology and gadgets.
Availablity: Late 2018-2019
At present Audi only offers plug-in hybrid cars but their new E-Tron all-electric SUV is set to change that. Although details are still a little sketchy (there's not been an official unveiling) looks to be a very stylish full-sized 5-seater.
There are claims it will have a range of around 250 miles (402 km) with a potential charge time of 30 minutes at applicable charging points. According to their website, it will come with an all-electric Quattro all-wheel drive and have excellent acceleration thanks to its dual electric drive.
Being an Audi it's bound to be packed full of fancy aesthetics and will come with the company's well-earned reputation for quality.
Availablity: Late 2019-2020
Mercedes-Benz has been conspicuously absent when it comes to all-electric vehicles in their range of excellent combustion engine cars of late. That doesn't, however, mean they haven't been busy.
They currently have a series of EVs in the works under their so-called EQ banner ("Electric Intelligence"). There is some news that their first offering will be a new SUV, an all-electric model called the EQ C, as a prototype was unveiled at the recent Paris Motor Show.
According to an interview with Car magazine, their project chief said "you will see it in 2018… and the price will be comparable to a top-end GLC". Watch this space!
It was only a matter of time before Porsche made their move to enter the all-electric car market. One of their offerings will be the Taycan (formerly called Mission E). There is limited official information out there but a prototype has been spotted doing the rounds at Nürburgring.
Porsche have previously mentioned that the Taycan will have a 0-60 (0-100 km) of 3.5 seconds and should have a pretty decent range of 250 miles (402 km). They have also mentioned that it will come with an 800-volt system, allowing for a charge rate of up to 350 kW (0-80% in around 15 minutes).