This year has brought no end of surprising, weird and wonderful new electric vehicles. It’s not even over yet, but 2022 is looking like a tipping point for EVs, with a huge surge in consumer interest coinciding with a bumper crop of exciting new models, as well as renewed government rebates here in Canada.
Nearly half of Canadians who are planning to buy a car said they’re looking for an EV, according to an Ernst & Young poll conducted this year. Other recent surveys put the number of Canadians who are willing to consider an electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle as high as 70 or even 80 per cent now. The percentages vary depending on the question asked and study methodology, but no matter how you slice it, interest in EVs is surging.
Looking at all the new electric cars, SUVs, bikes, dune buggies and wild concepts announced this year alone, it’s easy to see why. As far as new products are concerned, here are our favourite EV surprises of 2022 so far:
The Dune Buggy Returns
Throughout the 1960s and ‘70s, cars didn’t get much cooler than the Meyers Manx dune buggy. It was designed by California-based artist/surfer/engineer Bruce Meyers and sold as a kit, so anyone with a bit of time and a garage could hack together a dune buggy out of an old VW Beetle. The Manx was driven by everyone from Elvis to Steve McQueen, and even raced to victory in the inaugural Mexican 1000 rally. The brand got a surprise revival this year, when the Manx 2.0 EV was unveiled during Monterey Car Week. Amidst all the high-dollar hoopla, this back-to-basics EV stole the show. The company claims up to 300 km of range, and is currently looking for 50 customers to beta-test early prototypes.
BMW M Goes Wild
The good people at BMW’s M division – formerly BMW Motorsport – have been building the sort of cars we love since the 1970s. Their cars are usually overpowered but understated, entertaining but practical, and all designed to please even the most discerning drivers. All of which is to explain why we got so hyped when we saw M is working on its first proper EV. This summer, the team unveiled a widebody prototype they’ve been playing with, testing a quad-motor electric drivetrain and advanced torque vectoring. The engineers say, “Within milliseconds, the power and torque of the spontaneously reacting electric motors can be dosed so precisely that the load demand signaled via the accelerator pedal can be realized at a level of dynamics that is unattainable using conventional drive systems.” In plain English that means we can’t wait to see what this thing can do on a racetrack.
Polestar’s Convertible is a Go
Electric convertibles are sadly in short supply, as we’ve covered previously. Frankly, we had written-off the audacious Polestar O2 concept as merely a flight of fancy, some designers daydream; happily, we were wrong. The upstart Swedish brand announced it will put the all-electric drop-top into production as the Polestar 6. It’ll be underpinned by the same next-gen electric powertrain as the Polestar 5, which means a targeted EPA-range of 600 km, as well as more than 800 horsepower and dual-motor all-wheel drive. It’s expected to launch in 2026.
An All-Electric RV
Historic American brand Bowlus, which began making these lovely, streamlined travel-trailers back in the 1930s, unveiled what it claims is the world’s first all-electric RV. It’s called the Volterra, and it could be yours for US$310,000. Sure, other travel-trailers could be considered all-electric too, but what makes this one different are its solar panels on the roof, a big 17 kWh battery, Starlink satellite internet and giant water storage tank, all of which allows this RV to “live off-grid indefinitely,” according to the company. In a pinch, it could even give your Tesla a little extra juice. Airstream unveiled a similar concept, but it’s just a concept, while the Bowlus Volterra is on sale now.
Mercedes’ 1,000 km EV
The EQXX concept from Mercedes-Benz was designed to drive 1,000 kilometres on a single charge, giving it the ability to go from Toronto to New York, or from Paris to Berlin, without range-anxiety. The concept was unveiled early in 2022, and then Mercedes proved the EQXX could cover the distance with a record-breaking road trip from Stuttgart to Cassis. But, the engineers figured their car could go even farther, and it did. In June, the EQXX covered an incredible 1,202- kilometres (747 miles) without recharging, going from Stuttgart to Silverstone. While the EQXX remains a concept, Markus Schäfer, Mercedes’ chief technology officer for development, told us that — beginning in 2024 — drivers can expect cars with “much more” driving range. Watch this space.
If you grew up around the booming dirt-bike scene in the 1970s, you know Can-Am. The name used to ring out, especially after a Can-Am rider won the U.S. motocross championship in 1974. The brand abandoned the moto market in the late ‘80s, but now, more than 40 years later, Can-Am is coming back electric. Quebec-based Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP) announced the news with two battery-powered concept bikes, the street-oriented Pulse and the on/off-road Origin adventure bike. Details are scarce, but we know the bikes won’t have a clutch or manual transmission. The company is investing $300 million in electrification, but would-be owners will have to wait until 2024 to get their bikes.
Lucid’s Ludicrous Mode
Okay, that’s not quite fair. The new Sapphire sub-brand from Lucid aspires to be even more than the old Ludicrous mode was for Tesla. Lucid Motors is hoping Sapphire will be what M is to BMW, or AMG is to Mercedes. The Sapphire takes the already-brilliant Lucid Air up a notch, adding a tri-motor powertrain, producing over 1,200 hp and – more importantly – a track-capable chassis that can handle all that power. It’ll cost $325,000 and the first deliveries are expected next year.
An Electric Muscle Car
This wasn’t so much a surprise as it was an, “it’s about time!” moment. Dodge’s Charger Daytona SRT Concept aims to show the diehard muscle-car community that electric power can be good too, which, admittedly, may not be an easy task. To that end, however, the Charger EV has – no joke – an exhaust pipe which acts as a noise-maker. The concept also has some kind of transmission, called eRupt, and power-boost function, called PowerShot. The phallic energy here is palpable.
The Return of the ZDX
At Monterey Car Week this summer, Acura surprised everyone by announcing it would bring back the ZDX name for its first EV. The original ZDX was a somewhat controversial crossover, fondly remembered mainly by us and a handful of car-design aficionados who appreciated its avant-garde shape. (It was way ahead of the curve on fastback SUVs, which are now everywhere.) The brand’s first EV is due out in 2024, and you can read the full story on it, and the OG ZDX, right here.
Porsche Claps Back at Tesla
Last year, a Tesla Model S Plaid beat a Porsche Taycan Turbo to set the fastest lap for production EV around Germany’s famous Nurburgring Nordschleife circuit. Porsche wasn’t about to let that go. So, this year, a Taycan Turbo S fitted with an optional new Performance package beat the Tesla, setting a production EV lap record of 7 minutes and 33 seconds. The package includes lighter wheels, Pirelli P Zero Corsa rubber, and software tweaks to the chassis-control systems. (Otherwise, the car’s only modifications were a roll-cage and racing seats, which are required for ‘Ring records.) The record-breaking lap was done by steely-eyed Porsche development driver Lars Kern, and we tip our hats to him.
A Manual Gearbox for Lexus’ Super-EV
Don’t hold your breath for this one, but that the brand’s upcoming electric supercar – a successor to the LFA – might get some sort of manual transmission. Most EVs only have one gear, so a multi-speed gearbox, let alone a manual one, is unnecessary. But, Lexus’ boss said he’s looking for news ways to engage EV drivers. “I love cars and want something different,” he told the magazine. As far as we’re concerned, that’s justification enough. The LFA successor, dubbed Electrified Sport Concept, debuted earlier this summer. (And yes, Lexus really needs to come up with a more evocative name for its electric supercar.)