2019 Nissan Leaf Plus

Nissan has just introduced the Leaf Plus, with an extended range of up to 226 miles between charges (compared with 150 miles for the “regular” Leaf) and more horsepower, for faster acceleration and passing.

Don’t have the patience to wait for a Tesla? Can’t afford a $1-million-plus Pininfarina Battista supercar? No worries. There are plenty of affordable electric vehicles heading on the market.

Nissan Leaf, the world’s best-selling EV, recently became the first electric car in history to surpass 400,000 sales worldwide. That’s impressive, although the best-selling hybrid on the planet, the Toyota Prius, has sold three times as many vehicles.

Nissan has just introduced the Leaf Plus, with an extended range of up to 226 miles between charges (compared with 150 miles for the “regular” Leaf) and more horsepower, for faster acceleration and passing. There’s also a package of safety features, including standard Rear Door Alert, to remind you that something may have been forgotten in the rear seat. Such as your sleeping toddler. Also standard is a new 100kW quick-charging system, so you can recharge more efficiently. Prices start at $36,550.

The Hyundai Kona electric crossover is getting high marks for its looks, driving dynamics, comfort, and price. And its range — an estimated 258 miles between charges — is more than the “regular” Leaf, Chevy Bolt, or VW eGolf. Like the Leaf, Kona’s charging port is located on the front grille area for head-in parking ease whenever charging is needed.

Kona EV offers 201 horsepower, and delivers an EPA-estimated 132 MPGe city, 108 highway, and 120 combined. Such popular safety features as lane keeping assist, driver attention warning, and blind-spot collision warning are available in models above the base model.

Kona EV models start at $36,450. Hyundai also is marketing an EV version of the Niro crossover, with a between-charges range of 239 miles and a starting price of $37,500

Volvo’s new electric vehicle division is now marketing the Polestar 2, a midsized sedan designed to go nose-to-nose against the Tesla Model 3.

It’s being marketed as a premium five-door fastback, built on Volvo’s proven modular architecture platform, and also used for the company’s gas-powered vehicles. The EV has an expected range of 350 miles between charges, and comes with Brembo brakes, unique 20-inch forged wheels, Polestar’s signature gold seatbelts, and a revolutionary infotainment system. It’s also available in all-wheel drive.

It’s one of the first cars in the world to have an embedded system powered by Android, which integrates such services as Google Assistant, Google Maps, and Google Play Store. The Polestar 2 goes into production early in 2020 in China for global markets, including North America.

Originally, pricing was to start at $45,500 — in the same ballpark as the Tesla 3 at $42,900. But, recent U.S. tariffs on foreign cars have pushed the price to $63,000, which won’t help sales, even with $7,500 federal tax incentives. Don’t look for it in Volvo showrooms, either, because Polestar 2 can be ordered only online. Polestar 2 also will be part of Volvo’s subscription plan, which lets you rotate vehicle models.

Volkswagen will produce its planned CROZZ electric crossover, BUZZ minivan, and other models in Chattanooga, Tenn., where it is investing an additional $800 million in the plant and adding 1,000 new jobs at the factory, which currently produces the Passat sedan and midsize Atlas SUV.

This factory is the first LEED Platinum-certified auto factory in the world, and gets much of its production-line power from a solar farm VW built shortly after the factory opened in 2011. I love that eco-friendly green cars are produced in an eco-friendly green factory, don’t you?

The CROZZ will be produced starting in 2020, and hopefully the BUZZ, which is the EV version of the beloved VW Microbus.

I’m hoping VW changes the names before these vehicles, now considered concepts, come to market, because — in my opinion — a car called Buzz sounds ridiculous.

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