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These 4 Electric Vehicles Will Soon Give Tesla a Daunting Challenge

By John Rosevear – Updated May 24, 2018 at 1:54PM

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Several big automakers are set to invade Tesla's turf. Here's a preview.

The legacy automakers' challenge to Tesla's (TSLA -6.81%) dominance of the market for "premium electric vehicles" is finally beginning to heat up after years of talk and preparations.

First up: The I-Pace, a sleek crossover SUV from Tata Motors(TTM -4.35%) Jaguar luxury brand. The I-Pace is the first vehicle from a global automaker to roughly match Tesla's range, specifications, and luxury level. It's already in production for Europe, and it will arrive at U.S. Jaguar dealers later this year.

A red Jaguar I-Pace, an electric crossover SUV, is shown on a racetrack's starting line next to a while Tesla Model X SUV.

Jaguar's I-Pace is the first direct Tesla challenger from a global automaker. Image source: Jaguar Land Rover.

Many more electric vehicles are set to follow. Most are still several years away, but not all: Below, you'll find what will probably be the next four battery-electric luxury vehicles from global automakers, all set to arrive within the next two years or so.

Next up: A pair of Tesla-fighting electric Audis

German luxury-car maker Audi, a subsidiary of giant Volkswagen AG (VWAGY -10.85%), is preparing a pair of long-range electric vehicles that will directly challenge Tesla's Model X and Model S.

The Audi e-tron quattro prototype, an electric SUV wrapped in black and white camouflage, on a public road in Berlin, Germany.

The Audi e-tron quattro is an all-electric luxury SUV that will launch by the end of 2018. Audi has recently been testing "prototype" versions on public roads in Germany. Image source: Audi AG.

The first to arrive will be an all-electric SUV, currently called the "e-tron quattro," that was first shown in concept-car form back in 2015. It'll be followed by a sportier model with a coupe-like roofline, which Audi called the e-tron Sportback when it was first shown last year.

Like the I-Pace, the e-tron Sportback is kind of a mashup of a crossover SUV with a luxury sports sedan that takes advantage of the packaging options offered by the electric drivetrain. While the quattro looks like a conventional Audi SUV, the Sportback is something different: It's a good look.

The Audi e-tron Sportback show car, a sedan with a high SUV-like ride and a sleek coupe roofline.

The Audi e-tron Sportback will follow the quattro SUV, arriving (in Europe, at least) by the end of 2019. Image source: Audi AG.

The quattro moved from "concept" to "prototype" earlier this year, when Audi showed a camouflage-wrapped pre-production version of the electric SUV at the Geneva Motor Show. In a not-so-subtle jab at Tesla, which has earned a reputation for rushing its cars into production, Audi said that pre-production e-tron quattros have already racked up over 3 million miles in testing.

The quattro (which might get a different name before launch) will arrive at dealers in Europe by the end of this year, and in the U.S. sometime in the first half of 2019. The Sportback is expected by the end of 2019. Both will have three motors, one in front and two in back. They'll be driven by a 95 kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery pack that should be good for around 280 or so miles of range.

They'll also have fast-charging abilities, roughly matching Tesla's, along with something that Tesla hasn't quite managed yet: A world-class interior.

They'll be priced like Teslas, too. Audi CEO Rupert Stadler confirmed in March that the production version of the e-tron quattro will start at 80,000 euros (about $93,500) in Germany.

Jaguar will follow the I-Pace with a big sedan

It's not official yet, and probably won't be until later this year. But the automotive rumor mill has been humming since the well-wired U.K. publication Autocar reported in January that Jaguar is planning to replace its top-of-the-line XJ luxury sedan with a new all-electric version next year.

A black 2018 Jaguar XJ, a long, sleek luxury sedan.

Reports say that the current Jaguar XJ will be replaced by an all-electric model next year. Image source: Jaguar Land Rover.

The XJ sedan is arguably the most traditional Jaguar model. Long, low, fast, luxurious, and expensive, it's positioned as an intriguing alternative to the big sedans from Mercedes-Benz and BMW. Jaguar appears to be thinking that making the next XJ all-electric will help it stand out against the Germans, long the default choices for most shoppers in this segment.

What can we expect for power and range? The I-Pace is probably our best guide: It's starting out with two motors and a 95 kWh battery pack that will give around 240 miles of range, though it's likely that Jaguar will offer bigger batteries (and more power, possibly a lot more) as options in the future.

That said, it's very possible that the electric XJ, which will have Tesla's aging Model S squarely in its sights, will have more power and range than the I-Pace when it arrives.

Pricing? We don't know, of course, and won't for a while. But we can guess: The long-wheelbase version of the current (internal-combustion-powered) XJ starts at $84,500 and can be optioned up well over $100,000; the new electric XJ will probably be priced in that same neighborhood.

Porsche: Aiming to beat Tesla on track and off

On paper at least, the first all-electric Porsche is quite a machine, with 600 horsepower and the handling and braking you'd expect of a Porsche, along with a first-in-the-industry 800-volt drive system that allows for super-fast recharging: About 15 minutes to an 80% charge.

The Porsche Mission E concept vehicle, a futuristic-looking four-door, is shown at a recharging station.

Porsche's Mission E concept car, first shown in 2015, previewed an electric Porsche that will go into production by 2020. Image source: Porsche. 

The concept version, first shown in 2015, had claimed a zero to 100 kilometers per hour time of "under 3.5 seconds" -- Tesla territory -- along with a claim to something that no Tesla has yet matched: A sub-eight-minute lap time around the fearsome Nordschleife loop of Germany's Nürburgring racetrack. Porsche engineers have made no secret of their goal: They're not just looking to match Tesla, they're looking to soundly beat the California upstart on every metric they can, on track and off.

Like the Mission E concept, the production version will be a four-door with styling that suggests a futuristic take on Porsche's iconic 911 sports car, and Porsche is sticking with the 600 horsepower rating -- for at least one version of the production model. (Other Porsches are offered in several different versions, with power output rising along with price.)

A black Porsche sedan on a racetrack.

Race driver Mark Webber is shown driving a Mission E prototype on Porsche's Weissach test track earlier this month. Image source: Porsche.  

Porsche has promised that the production version of the Mission E will be on the market "by the end of the decade." It's likely that we'll see the production version next year, though it may not arrive here in the U.S. until 2020. Pricing is expected to be similar to that of Porsche's Panamera sedan, which starts around $85,000 and can be optioned up to well over $150,000.

John Rosevear has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Tesla. The Motley Fool recommends BMW. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Tesla, Inc. Stock Quote
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$17.05 (-10.85%) $-2.08
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Tata Motors
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