Friday, May 26, 2023

The Compact SUV EV Search: Four Years Later

On this day four years ago, my search for an electric compact SUV ended with the purchase of a gasoline-powered car.  During the time of my search, there was only one compact SUV EV available. It was prohibitively expensive and lacked features I consider essential. Two years later, more affordable options had come to market, but nothing offered the basic features I want: all-wheel drive, a surround-view camera, an openable moonroof, and an EPA range of at least 235 miles. Now that two more years have gone by, it's time to take a look at the compact SUV EV landscape again. 

It's still desolate.

The good news is that we've finally reached a state where one vehicle--exactly one (out of the nearly 30 compact SUV EVs available)--offers the basic features I want. It's the Nissan Ariya. Unfortunately, at more than 50% more expensive than its gasoline-powered equivalent (a premium of close to $20,000), it's too much money. 

Two other cars almost fulfill my basic feature requirements, though not my affordability criterion. The Mercedes EQB 300 has AWD, the moonroof, and the surround-view camera, but its EPA range, per the car's window sticker, is only 232 miles. The range is surprising, because the range for the 2022 model at is 243 miles. Why the 2023 model has a lesser range than the 2022 model, I don't know, but the number on the sticker is the number on the sticker. ( has no information for the 2023 model.)

The other nearly feature-complete car is the AWD version of the 2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge. The 2023 model already checked all the boxes except the required range, but Volvo recently announced that the 2024 model's range would be around 254 miles. That's encouraging, but it's currently a car on paper only. Pricing hasn't been announced, and it can't yet be ordered.

Even when it exists, it's unlikely to change things for me. Assuming the 2024 Volvo XC40 Recharge is priced similarly to the 2023 version, both it and the Mercedes EQB 300 will have MSRPs pushing or exceeding sixty grand. That's even more than the Nissan Ariya. 

None of these cars qualifies for the $7500 federal tax credit (which I recently realized is less attainable than the EV media generally acknowledges).

Four years after I threw up my hands in frustration, abandoned the idea of buying an EV, and purchased a gas-burning automobile instead, I'll have gone from having zero EVs to choose from to having one. Pricing remains firmly at the luxury level. The acceptably-equipped and reasonably-priced compact SUV EV I long for continues to exist only in my imagination.

The slow progress of the last four years is disheartening. I've decided to significantly reduce how closely I monitor EV developments. For years, I've followed the field closely, eagerly reading articles about new and coming vehicles. I'm going to stop doing that. From now on, I'll just check every few months to see if anything has become available that offers the features I care about at a price I consider reasonable. There's a school of thought that the IRA's battery subsidy provisions will lead to a radical reduction in EV pricing. We'll see.


Anonymous said...

Regards from Brazil! I don't believe you are such a pick guy. you said a lot of good stuff about the The Mercedes EQB 300 and then you are complaining about 3 miles? I know for sure you never risk your trip trusting on this 3 miles whether you have them... The bottom line is: There is no way, electric cars with this kind of batteries were made for short distances! Let's hope nitrogen arrive as fast as we deserve or as fast as the companies and opep and some many other related too decide to think clean!

Scott Meyers said...

@Anonymous: 3 miles short of my 235-mile minimum looks like a little thing, but that line of reasoning defeats the purpose of establishing a minimum in the first place. If 232 is close enough to 235 to qualify, why wouldn't 229 be close enough to 232 and 226 close enough to 229, etc.?

In coming up with the 235-mile minimum, I tilted the field heavily in favor of EVs. I assumed that driving until the battery was down to 10% was acceptable. I ignored that batteries have a lower range in cold weather and that they lose their ability to hold a full charge as they age.

I believe an EPA range of 235 miles is a reasonable hard limit, and I'm sticking to it.