Electric Cars

Forbidden Fruit: 5 Great EVs You Can’t Buy in the US

Forbidden Fruit:  5 Great EVs You Can’t Buy in the US

Enrg.io is largely based in the United States. As such, we have access to some of the best electric cars in the world from Tesla, Nissan, and others– but we don’t have access to ALL of the awesome electric cars out there. Markets like China, Russia, and Europe get cars we probably won’t see here for years– if at all! That fact– and the fact that we all want things that we can’t have!– inspired us to put together a quick list of “forbidden fruit”. So, here they are: 5 Great EVs You Can’t Buy in the US. Enjoy!

 

Volkswagen e-Up

The Volkswagen e-Up! (yes, the “!” is part of the name) is all-new for 2019, and it is everything you’d expect in a modern electric hot hatch that was built by the people who invented the hot hatch segment with the very first Volkswagen Golf GTi more than forty years ago.

Volkswagen isn’t used to following trends. As a pioneer of platform engineering, one of the forefathers of the modern minivan, and a leader in all-wheel drive technology for the road, Volkswagen never had to– until 2015, that is. That’s when Volkswagen’s long-established plan of offering “clean diesel” as its answer to the environmental questions dramatically exploded, taking out years of corporate goodwill and billions of dollars in the process. VW was left battered, beaten, and broke. More importantly, the company was forced to close the book on diesels and shift its focus to electric vehicles.

For its part, the e-Up! seems to bring it. Much closer in size and stance to the original GTi than the current Mk7 Golf, the electric motor in the e-Up! produces 81 HP and 155 lb-ft of torque at 0 RPM, making it more than zippy off line and hugely responsive in heavy urban traffic. The low center of gravity– aided in large part by the 230 kg battery built into the e-Up’s floor– also means the car handles a lot like the original GTi. Which is to say: it’s super fun!

Too bad it’s a Europe-only model, for now.

 

Rimac C Two

We covered the terrifying, 2000 HP Rimac C Two back when we were still calling this site “Gas 2”. That was two years and a few electric supercars ago, sure– but the Rimac is still terrifying, and still producing the kind of giddy, excited awe in everyone who sees the thing. If you’re looking for a quintessential electric supercar for the 20-teens in the same sense that the Lamborghini Countach was the quintessential supercar of the 1980s, this might be it.

The Rimac was almost impossibly hyped before its debut. It would have 2000 HP, they said. It would sprint from 0-60 MPH in less than two seconds, it would cross the finish line at a 1/4 mile drag strip in just 9 seconds and, given enough road, would hit the 300 km/h (186 MPH) mark less than 3 seconds later. It would, Rimac promised, be a world-beater– and it would be 100% electric. When it finally made its debut last year, the only thing more impressive than its 258 top speed and a 400 mile driving range was the fact that the car is actually nice to look at.

If you don’t want one, there’s just something wrong with you.

 

London Black Cab Electric Taxi

This one may not be for YOU, you– but if you’re a taxi driver? This is the one you want. Meet the all-electric LEVC TX. It’s an electric cab being manufactured by London Taxis International, a company that’s been building ubiquitous London Black Cabs for mover fifty years. That’s the same London Taxis International that, just a few years ago, had limped into administration– saved at the last minute by an £11.4 million cash injection from Geely– and: yes. That’s the same Geely that owns Volvo, Lynk & Co., and Lotus.

What’s more, Geely didn’t just want to get into the electric cab business, the Black Cab is at the very center of their plan to transform urban transport. Really.

At the moment, there are more than 200 low-emission zones across Europe that either levy charges on heavily-polluting vehicles (like diesel trucks or idling taxis) or ban them altogether. Major cities like Barcelona and– of course– London have plans in place to ban internal combustion vehicles, as well, which means that a shift to EVs is going to be an absolute must for any taxi fleet that hopes to stay in business much longer. And, as cities push to bring in tougher emissions laws to ensure cleaner air, London Taxis International (rebranded as LEVC) is readying itself take the black cab truly international. Here’s hoping we get it here in the US, as well!

 

Toyota i-ROAD Urban EV

On paper, the Toyota i-ROAD leaves a lot to be desired. It’s a single-passenger EV with very little in the way of luxury features. What’s more, you practically have to be a Toyota employee to buy one, since they’re only really sold in Toyota city, Japan (though you can rent them in France). What’s worse, the little i-ROAD doesn’t even have the right number of wheels– and its “reverse trike” configuration all but guarantees drivers will find themselves caught in every rut and hitting every pothole with at least one of the trike’s aluminum alloy wheels. On paper, then, the i-Road doesn’t seem too appealing … but then you see one, and that makes all the difference.

In person, the i-ROAD looks like the future. On the move, it looks every bit like the last wheeled thing that they’re gonna build before the flying cars get real. More than that, however, the little electric Toyota looks like an absolute BLAST to tearass around Japan in. Terrible as they may seem, conceptually– if you could get one here in the US, I bet the line for them would be around the block. You don’t have to take my word about all that, though. You can check out the fast, nimble, low-leaning Toyota i-ROAD urban electric vehicle for yourself in this YouTube video from Motor.TV, featuring all manner of compelling B-roll footage that may convince you.

 

Toyota i-ROAD Urban EV | Video

Renault Zoe

The Renault ZOE could be described as a Nissan LEAF with a European flair. The Renault occupies the same compact, everyday commuter space as the LEAF, but it does so with a greater emphasis on driving dynamics. That is, if Renault’s marketing department is to be believed.

At the very least, the Renault ZOE offers sporty, fully electric driving with nearly 200 miles of range for about 25,000 USD based on the exchange rate as I type this. That’s more than $10,000 less than the (seemingly abandoned) lowest priced Tesla Model 3, and that’s also before any tax credits and rebates get applied, which will just serve to bring the little Renault’s price down even more.

It’s hard to say whether or not there would be a market for the Renault ZOE in the US– especially considering the relative lack of hype surrounding the under-loved LEAF— but a fun-to-drive, inexpensive little electric with room for four adults and snazzy European styling would certainly give American EV buyers another electric option at the low end of the money pool, you know? What’s more, the only Euro-branded competition it would face, stateside, would come from the BMW i3 and upcoming electric Mini— and both of those cost a lot more money! What do you guys think?

Heck, what do you think about any and all of the EVs mentioned in this article!? Are there any cars here you’d like to drive home in, or are you satisfied to wait in line for your Tesla? Scroll down to the comments section at the bottom of the page and let us know which one(s) of these you dig most, and what “forbidden fruit” electric cars from far away you love that we may have missed.

 

Original content from Enrg.io.

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Jo Borrás
Jo has been working in the automotive industry since 1997, and has been a contributor to various automotive and technology blogs for more than a decade. You can usually find him talking about Swedish metal at his Volvo fansite, out cruising on two wheels, or chasing his kids around Oak Park, IL.