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Top new models for SA

From Renault's new Alaskan bakkie to the latest models at the Frankfurt motor show bound for SA.

Electric cars in SA

The debate on whether or not Electric Vehicles (EV) are viable in South Africa rages on.

Tesla's Model 3 isn't only affordable EV on market

2017-09-28 14:47

COMING TO SA: Tesla unveiled a new, cheaper model of its electric car aimed at the mass market in late March 2016. The new model will only be available in late 2017 and is confirmed for South Africa. Image: AFP / Tesla

New York - The Tesla Model 3 has captured the interest of both mainstream car buyers and electric vehicle enthusiasts alike.

The Model 3's combination of sleek styling, long range and semiautonomous driving features gives the Model 3 an "it" factor that's hard to resist. But with a base price of $35 000 or R500 000 , limited availability, and many of its most desirable features on the options list, the Model 3 isn't for everybody.

For buyers who are interested in an electric vehicle but don't want to wait around for the Model 3, several great alternatives are available now at a similar price point.

Headed for SA? What we know about Tesla's new Model 3 sedan

Some have shorter ranges while others lack the latest driver assistance features, but if you're interested in an electric car that won't take as long to arrive, these EVs are worth a look.

2018 NISSAN LEAF

The Nissan Leaf was a game-changer when it debuted in 2011, so hopes are high for the redesigned 2018 model. The Leaf still doesn't have the long-range abilities of the Model 3, but its low base price gives it a level of attainability that most competitors can't match. In addition to its new look, the 2018 Leaf boasts a larger battery pack that increases maximum range from 172km to an estimated 240km. A more powerful electric motor bumps output from 80kW to 110kW for improved performance.

Tomorrow is electrifying: Nissan's next-gen Leaf headed for SA

Two new features set the Leaf apart from its rivals. The first is called e-Pedal. It allows drivers to bring the Leaf to a complete stop merely by lifting off the accelerator. It makes for a one-pedal driving experience that eases fatigue in heavy traffic.

The second feature, called ProPilot Assist, combines several driver aids to provide a semiautonomous driving experience. Available on SV and SL models, ProPilot Assist maintains a set distance between the Leaf and the car in front, keeps the Leaf centered in its lane and steers through corners. Nissan notes that it's called ProPilot "assist," so drivers still need to keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road.

Base price: Unconfirmed

Range: 240km (manufacturer estimate)

Recharge time: 8 hours on a 240-volt charger

Availability: Last quarter of 2018

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2017 BMW i3

BMW's i3 stands out in more ways than one. Its funky styling hides a frame made of carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic, making it extremely tough yet lightweight. Inside, its cabin is decked out with natural materials, including real eucalyptus wood trim and leather treated with olive tree leaf extract. The i3 is sold with a choice of two battery sizes: the base 60-amp-hour version with 81 miles of range or the 94-Ah version with 183km of range. The 94-Ah model is also available with a small gasoline engine to further extend the i3's range when the battery runs out.

Base price: Available close to launch

Range: 130km to 183km (EPA estimate)

Recharge time: 4-5 hours on a 240-volt charger

Availability: Fourth quarter of 2018

EDMUNDS SAYS: You don't have to wait for a Tesla Model 3 to get an affordable EV with more than enough range to handle your everyday commute. 

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