If you’re reading this article, you know Tesla. You may even be reading this from inside your Model 3 as it’s docked at a Supercharger. As we desperately scramble away from the ceaseless test of will that was 2020, we look toward to the new year with newfound hope and optimism. 2021 is a big year for everyone and everything, including electric vehicles. To help keep you in the know for the future, here are several of the best Tesla alternatives and where they currently lie on their journey up the EV ladder.
Rivian is a US automaker founded in 2009. While it has yet to officially deliver a vehicle, Rivian has quickly become one of the more popular names on the list of “the other guys” below Tesla. In a reverse approach to Tesla’s design strategy, Rivian decided to begin with large electric vehicles capable of both on- and off-road terrain. In 2018, it revealed an all-electric, seven-passenger SUV and a five-passenger pickup truck as its first two banner EVs.
Since then, Rivian has seen rounds of investment in the hundreds of million of dollars from big names like Amazon, Ford Motor Company, and Cox Automotive. Part of the deal with the investment from Amazon included Rivian providing the global online marketplace with 100,000 electric delivery vans.
Just recently, Rivian announced yet another round of funding, boosting the automaker’s valuation up around $25 billion… with a “b.” This past fall, when Rivian released the final pricing and configurations for its first two vehicles, customers went bananas. The number of reservation slots for its pickup truck, the R1T, completely sold out.
While we’re on the subject, let’s dig into Rivian’s first EV set to hit roads, the R1T pickup truck. The R1T is built for those who like to spend time outdoors, but still prefer luxury and utility. The automaker demonstrated some of this truck’s power by throwing a company party in the woods, with lights completely powered by an R1T. Based off Rivian’s footage so far, the R1T could become a genuine alternative to Tesla’s Cybertruck.
Currently, the R1T is priced at $75,000 (before incentives) for both its Launch Edition set to deliver in June 2021 and the Adventure version to come in early 2022. Rivian plans to release a third version in early 2022 called the Explorer. It will hit the market at a slightly more affordable price of $67,500. All three versions currently feature a 300+ mile range battery pack.
While much of Rivian’s spotlight has remained on the R1T, the R1S SUV offers more size and luxury for a slightly higher price. Like the R1T, the R1S currently features three different versions with various add-ons. All still feature the 300+ mile range battery pack. The R1S Launch Edition is scheduled for an August 2021 release and begins at $77,500 without incentives. Two other versions, the Adventure Edition and Explore R1S, are slated for early 2022. Those two are priced at $77,500 and $70,000, respectively.
Follow our latest coverage of Rivian by checking out our Rivian guide.
Next on the list of legitimate Tesla alternatives is Lucid Motors. Lucid is another US automaker founded in 2007. Like Rivian, it has yet to deliver its first EV. That being said, there is much hype surrounding Lucid and its premiere vehicle, the Air. The manufacturer gained an enormous amount of publicity last year after its Air test vehicle beat Tesla’s Model S Plaid prototype’s Laguna Seca track record. Tesla, of course responded back with an an even faster track time. Regardless, Lucid showcased that its upcoming Air sedan has come to contend.
Since then, Lucid Motors has completed the first phase of construction of its “Lucid AMP-1” factory in Arizona. This factory will handle the production of the Air electric sedan and will start producing around 30,000 Lucid vehicles per year. The automaker’s eventual goal is to produce up to 400,000 electric cars at this new facility each year.
Part of the funding to help Lucid push forward with its Arizona factory was a $1 billion investment from the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia (PIF). Electrek recently reported that one of the terms of the large investment was that Lucid would expand its manufacturing into Saudi Arabia. The automaker is still only in the discussion phase of such an expansion, and at this point plans can certainly change.
Lucid Air sedan
In fall of 2020, Lucid finally released the details of its long-anticipated Air sedan. It took over 10 years for the automaker to debut its first EV, but first impressions seem to reveal Lucid took its time to ensure it got it right. This electric luxury sedan comes in four different versions of varying price points.
Lucid’s most basic model, called “Air Pure,” will have a price of $77,400 (not including the federal tax credit) and will come with an EPA estimated range of 406 miles. This bests the Model S Long Range Plus by four whole miles for $10,000 more. Customers will have to wait the longest for this most affordable Lucid, however. It is currently not schedule to deliver until early 2022.
The second model up is called the “Air Touring.” It offers the same 406-mile range, but starts at $95,000. According to Lucid’s site, this version will be available in late 2021.
Moving forward, Lucid also offers a “Air Grand Touring” for $139,000 without any incentives. This Air should begin deliveries in summer 2021 and offer an EPA estimated 517 miles of range. That number tops Tesla’s current pinnacle range of 500+ miles in the Model S Plaid.
Last and not least is Lucid’s “Air Dream Edition” for $169,000. This version is set to become the first Air released as its currently slated for spring 2021 on Lucid’s website. While the Dream Edition offers slightly smaller range at 503 miles, it boasts over 1,000 horsepower.
Lucid ‘s Project Gravity
When Lucid revealed its Air sedan last year, it also teased its next venture in manufacturing an electric SUV. The automaker is currently referring to the clandestine EV as Project Gravity, and has since only shared glimpses of the prototype.
Early images show a lot of resemblances to the Air sedan. Much like the Air’s goal to redefine electric sedan luxury, Lucid is promising to do the same for the electric SUV. So far, the automaker is only offering a waitlist and plans for Project Gravity to come to earth in 2023. Stay tuned to Electrek for updates on this mystery machine, and whether it can shine as an alternative to Tesla’s SUVs.
Follow our latest coverage of Lucid by checking out our Lucid Motors guide.
Moving out of North America, our next EV player is Chinese automaker NIO. Despite being founded only six years ago, NIO immediately put the pedal to the floor on EV development and has yet to slow down. In fact, on the day its brand was established, NIO debuted its first EV, the EP9 two-seat sports car.
Soon after, NIO announced plans to debut an electric production vehicle focused on autonomous driving. The original concept prototype to follow was called the NIO EVE. After claiming to raise over $1 billion in funding, NIO went public in 2018 with an $1.8 billion IPO. While NIO continues to grow in China as a major competitor and alternative to Tesla, it has not ventured over to North America yet. NIO’s goal is to eventually expand to the US and Europe someday..
NIO currently offers three electric SUVS in addition to the EP9. However, NIO recently announced that there’s a new model on the horizon…
The ES8 is NIO’s first and longest running production vehicle. As a full size-SUV with seating for seven, it is also NIO’s largest model currently available. Its current range is listed at 580 km (360 miles).
The ES6 is the second SUV to emerge from NIO’s assembly line and exists as a smaller version of the ES8. It has seating for five and can travel 610 km (379 miles) on a single charge.
Debuting in 2020, the EC6 is NIO’s most recent and most sporty electric SUV. It features a panoramic moonroof and seating for five, just like the ES6. NIO’s website claims the EC6 can travel 615 km (382 miles) on a single charge.
In early 2021, the Chinese Tesla alternative used its NIO Day to announce it’s moving into electric sedan production. With that announcement came the debut of the NIO ET7, an electric sedan powered by a dual motor and an impressive battery pack that delivers up to 150 kWh. According to the automaker, the 150 kWh battery will help propel the range of the ET7 over 1,000 km (621 miles) per charge, although that number has all but been demonstrated.
Deliveries of NIO’s first sedan model are currently scheduled to begin in early 2022.
Follow our latest coverage of NIO by checking out our NIO guide.
Moving back stateside, our final contender is also our youngest at just over two years. Lordstown Motors is based in the Ohio city of the same name. It operates out of a manufacturing facility previously operated by General Motors. Speaking of GM, it invested $75 million in Lordstown Motors with the hope that it will eventually become a serious competitor to… you guessed it, Tesla.
Last spring, Lordstown paid Workhorse Group $12 million for the licensing rights to the intellectual property of its W-15 pickup truck. It then began developing its own electric pickup based upon the pre-existing design purchased. What emerged was Lordstown’s Endurance pickup featuring four in-wheel hub motors.
Lordstown came out guns blazing with the Endurance reveal, promising to deliver a $52,000 electric pickup to market before Tesla. Ironically enough, Lordstown Motors lacked the endurance to meet it its Q4 2020 deadline, and had to push its delivery date to 2021. This was due to setbacks relating to the global pandemic.
After showcasing footage of a working Endurance prototype last summer, the US automaker went public through a reverse merger in fall. The merger gave Lordstown Motors an equity valuation of around $1.6 billion. This move offered plenty of funding to bring the Endurance pickup truck into production and become a potential Tesla alternative. Endurance is currently scheduled to hit the market in September 2021, and Lordstown claims to already have received 50,000 pre-orders.
The Endurance pickup is currently listed on Lordstown’s website at a purchase of $52,500. It claims an EPA estimated range of 250+ miles, seats five, and can tow up to 7,500 pounds. Furthermore, the Endurance’s top speed is listed at 80 mph on top of 600 horsepower. It will be interesting to see how the in-wheel hubs work, and if this is a mechanical approach other commercial EVs will adapt.
Follow our latest coverage of Lordstown by checking out our Lordstown Motors guide.
It’s important to note that this list is simply the beginning. There are plenty of other up-and-coming automakers out there with dreams of becoming the best alternative to Tesla, if not better. This industry is only beginning to blossom, so keep an eye out here as those other electric ventures inch closer to market.
Speaking of trying to bring vehicles to market, you may have noticed Nikola Motors was left off this list. It was originally included as a name to know, but since the American “auto-designer” had such a turbulent 2020, they were left off. This decision was based more on the fact that Nikola Motors appears to be one of the few electric automakers taking steps backward on many of its projects.
Nevertheless, you can follow our coverage as to what Nikola is up to on our Nikola Motors guide.
Of all the names on this list, Fisker has had one of the more interesting and tumultuous journeys toward EV recognition. Originally founded in 2007 as Fisker Automotive, the American automaker quickly made waves with the debut of the Fisker Karma electric luxury sedan a year later. Actual deliveries of the Karma didn’t actually begin until 2011. However, before the automaker could really get moving and become a Tesla alternative, it hit a major speed bump.
In 2012, Fisker automotive’s sole battery supplier filed for bankruptcy, leaving the automaker unable to continue manufacturing the Karma after just 2,000 vehicles sold. In 2014, a Chinese auto-part company purchased all the assets pertaining to Fisker Karma manufacturing, and renamed it Karma Automotive.
Founder Henrik Fisker was able to hold on to the Fisker trademark and logo of which he formed Fisker Inc. in 2016. Since then, the American automaker has been teasing an electric SUV we now know as the Ocean. It claimed this new SUV would contain its own design battery, offering tremendous range and lightning-fast charging.
Last summer, Fisker received over $50 million in funding to help bring the Ocean to land. Shortly thereafter, Fisker revealed that in fact it would not be producing its own EV and battery, but would instead manufacture its vehicles on Volkwagen’s MEB EV platform. That means it will rely entirely on Volkswagen electric vehicle technology and essentially forfeited any claims of remaining anything more than a vehicle designer.
According to Fisker’s website, the Ocean will arrive in early 2022 and will be offered in four different package options, although those details have yet to be revealed. Due to that fact, it’s tough to consider the Fisker Ocean a legitimate alternative to Tesla, but we will wait and see. Keep an eye our Fisker guide for any updates on the Ocean as it tries to make waves.
There you have it. Check back in here for future updates regarding the companies above, as well as more on the precipice of EV superstardom.
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