Electric Cars

September is a monster month for future EVs

New debuts from Mercedes, Audi, BMW, Tesla and Volvo show electric models are rapidly ramping up speed. Hope you like SUVs.

Audi

The arrival of September is associated with the end of summer and the arrival of cooler temperatures as Mother Nature begins her slowdown for winter. It's often a somewhat quiet time for the car industry too, ahead of the start of the annual auto show season. But unlike most years, this month will be jam-packed full of interesting debuts far away from the klieg lights of the mainstream international auto show circuit. September is going to be interesting -- especially if you're a fan of electric cars. 

That's particularly true if you're a luxury segment buyer. This month you can expect key production EV debuts from Mercedes-Benz and Audi, and Volvo and BMW have promised to important new concept car debuts too. Oh, and Elon Musk and company have something up their sleeves that's coming soon, although nobody's quite sure what Tesla has in store. 

Based on everything we know so far, here's what you can expect to see in battery-powered debuts this month: 

2020 Mercedes-EQC

Mercedes-Benz revealed its first production EV model, the EQC, at a ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden, and it looks to have the heart of the premium market on its mind: It's a crossover SUV. The German automaker first revealed the Generation EQ show car at the Paris Motor Show two years ago, and the production EQC appears heavily influenced by that vehicle.

The EQC isn't just a new production SUV, its unique name signifies the start of an entire new family of battery-powered vehicles of all description. 

Mercedes' parent, Daimler, has kept a pretty tight lid on specs until now, but as of Tuesday, we know that the EQC features a pair of electric motors delivering 402 horsepower and 564 pound-feet of torque.

From the rear, the EQC looks almost like any other SUV from the Three-Pointed Star.

Daimler AG

Those are impressive numbers, but we are less moved by the EQC's range figure: Just 200 miles are promised from the model's 80 kilowatt-hour battery pack. For those keeping score, that's well shy of the most-capacious Tesla Model X (295 miles) and Jaguar I-Pace (250 miles).

The EQC won't reach American dealers until 2020, so some of Benz's rivals will have a healthy head start.

2020 Audi E-Tron

Speaking of 2020 and electric SUVs, we already know a good deal about Audi's E-Tron, which will square off against the aforementioned Mercedes-EQC, Jaguar's recently launched 2019 iPace crossover, and of course, the Tesla Model X. In fact, we've already seen its production bodywork in camouflage-wrapped prototype form, and we at Roadshow have even seen Audi shoot a bolt of lighting at the vehicle (it's for science, ya'll), and enjoyed a ride-along down Pike's Peak during which its friction brakes were barely touched. 

The production 2020 Audi E-Tron bows on Monday, September 17 at an already-announced event in San Francisco. The start of production was just announced on Tuesday, and like the EQC, it's expected to go on sale in the US next year.

Mystery Tesla

You won't have to wait until September 17 to get a taste of something new from Elon Musk and Company. Tesla is teasing that it will reveal something significant at the inaugural Grand Basel car show in Switzerland on Wednesday, Sept. 5. 

Rumor has it that the Silicon Valley startup's debut will be a production version of its 2020 Tesla Roadster sports car, and a dynamic looking (but tightly cropped) teaser image of crimson sheetmetal would seem to support that theory. However, knowing how cagey and surprise-filled Tesla likes to be, the debut could be something entirely different. It could be something like the Model Y pickup, Semi, or perhaps not even a full vehicle at all.

(A white Tesla Roadster shell was shown at Grand Basel on Tuesday, but it is not immediately clear if this is the same vehicle as teased in the red invitation shown here.)

Either way, whatever Tesla shows figures to be in good company: The Grand Basel expo looks like it will be positively stocked with high-end classic cars and luxury vehicles. Show organizers claim that the event will be "the world's first and only show to present the automobile in contexts of art, design, architecture and lifestyle," and they look to be off to a strong start.

Volvo 360c concept

Also planned for this Wednesday, September 5, Volvo will reveal its own concept car, dubbed 360c. Not much is known about this vehicle, but it's anticipated to be a fully electric show car, likely with a heavy emphasis on self-driving tech. 

Teaser photos of the vehicle suggest a fairly radical departure from Volvo's current line of sleek but somewhat homogenous line of cars and SUVs. A teaser image shows off thin, angular LED taillights incorporated into unusual vertical fins that have no parallel in today's production cars. A separate teaser video suggests a built-in coffee maker, which would seem to give credence to the idea that this is a further-reaching pod-like concept for future mobility.

Now playing: Watch this: Volvo's 360c concept is a luxury jet on wheels
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Representatives from the Swedish automaker have previously stated that the company expects one-third of its production cars to feature a high degree of automation by 2025, bypassing Level 3 autonomy and going right for Level 4 eyes-off functionality. 

Even if the 360c turns out to be a bit of show car ephemera and not a production-minded vehicle, like its Mercedes and BMW rivals, Volvo has said its first full battery-electric model will arrive next year, and it's likely to be based on its popular XC40 compact crossover. Given the XC40's smaller footprint, EV buyers should expect to have a range of different engine-free SUV options in the near future.

BMW Vision iNext concept

You didn't really expect the Bavarians to let all of the other premium automakers hog the electric spotlight in September, did you? Not to be left out, BMW is teasing the reveal of its Vision iNext electric concept SUV, which, in turn is expected to spawn a production model in 2021. 

Based on a brief new teaser video (below) released Tuesday, its design won't be subtle, and it won't be for everyone.

Get prepared for a new generation – fully electric and highly automated.

Just get a glimpse of what you might expect … Who is ready for the BMW Vision iNEXT? #MyFavoriteSpace

Posted by BMW on Tuesday, September 4, 2018

BMW is offering few specifics about about the iNext Vision other than saying it's "fully electric and highly automated," but like its rivals, the luxury automaker has already committed to a full line of EVs. Its production EV push kicks off with the 2020 iX3 SUV next year, and it plans to introduce no fewer than 25 electrified models by 2025.

BMW is taking its iNext Vision on the road, with confirmed plans to visit Munich, New York, San Francisco and Beijing in just five days thanks to a deal with German airline Lufthansa.

The future is now

Regardless of whether you're eyeing these near-term mass-production EVs or casting a longer look at the future of the automobile with concepts like the Volvo 360c or BMW Vision iNext, one thing is for sure: September is shaping up to be a pivotal and very interesting month for the automobile of tomorrow.

Stay tuned.

First published at 7:49 a.m. PT.
Update, 10:33 a.m. PT: Adds newly revealed Mercedes-Benz EQC photos and specs.