High-Tech Startups Are Upgrading the Electric Car Market

Rivian R1T (photo Andi Hendrik)

In September Gavin Newsom signed the most ambitious automotive legislation in the nation, mandating that by 2035 every vehicle sold in the Golden State would have to be electric. Sure, that deadline seems a long way into the future, but we don’t have to wait 15 years to get our zero emission roll on — a slew of ion-munching vehicles are hitting showrooms as we speak. Tesla, of course, still rules the roost with a mighty electric talon, while venerable manufacturers like Audi, Mercedes, Jaguar, Nissan, Volkswagen and more are bringing a range of all-electric offerings to market. Beyond the badges we all grew up with, however, are several all-electric startups shaking up the automotive landscape. From Bollinger and Rivian’s earth-tumbling trucks to Lucid’s sleek city fare, here are a trio of potential disrupters to keep your eyes on.


With announced investment of more than $3 billion — including industry titans Ford and Amazon, the latter of whom they’re building delivery trucks for — Rivian is as much of a sure thing as exists these days. The Launch Edition of their R1T truck has the stats (754 horsepower; up to 10,360 pound-feet of total ground torque), range (300-plus miles), and off-road capability (14.4 inches of ground clearance; 11,000-pound towing). Plus, its innovative and highly adaptable “skateboard platform” packages the entire EV powertrain under the wheel line, providing a low center of gravity and tons of storage (big frunk, central gear tunnel and copious compartments under the seats and truck bed). While not Cybertruck futuristic, the smooth skin, unique headlights and grille-less facade lend it an exterior that is matched within by sustainable vegan leather, natural-grained ash wood trim and 360-degree Rivian Elevation sound system. Launch Edition arrives this summer and prices start at $75,000.

Lucid Air
Lucid Air (photo courtesy of Lucid Motors)

Lucid Motors

Lucid Motors subscribes to the kitchen sink approach, loading their upcoming four-seater Lucid Air with so much tech (fastest-charging EV; 34-inch curved 5K display), performance (1,080 horsepower), range (517 miles), design (world’s most aero-efficient luxury car), sustainability and luxury that it set benchmarks across the EV landscape. Envisioned around the miniaturization of its all-wheel drive powertrain, including more compact yet powerful dual electric motors, Lucid’s concept of luxury is to optimize interior cabin space to offer a full-size luxury-class vehicle in a sport sedan package. And since the Newark, California–based startup designed and developed all the battery packs for the Formula E motorsports series, Lucid’s tech has been tested under the harshest F1-like duress. Deliveries of the Air Dream Edition ($169,000) begin in spring, with more affordable editions culminating in the base Air ($74,400) arriving in 2022.

Bollinger Motors
Bollinger B1 (courtesy of Bollinger Motors)

Bollinger Motors

The uber-boxy Bollinger may look like a Lego-built ’70s Land Rover Defender, but its refreshingly Luddite shell belies a highly advanced EV architecture. The B1 SUV and B2 pickup boast unique features like glass roofs and a super-long pass-through cargo tunnel, complementing real-world off-road capability thanks to better approach, breakover and departure angles than a Jeep Wrangler. With dual motors supplying 668 pound-feet of instant torque capable of towing 7,500 pounds and carrying 5,200 pounds of payload, Bollinger proves trucks can go zero emission without compromising IRL capability. While considerably more expensive than the Rivian, the Bollinger is meant to compete in the marketplace with restomod (cars that are gutted and reassembled piece by piece with modern tech) Defenders when it arrives end of 2021 for $125,000.


FORD Mustang Mach E
If you live in California the all-new Mustang Mach E will squeak in under $35,000 thanks to more than $11,000 worth of combined federal and state incentives. That’s the most affordable option on this list. 


PORSCHE Taycan Turbo S
What do you get when Porsche builds a zero-emission sled? Of course the fastest (zero-to-60 mph in 2.4 seconds; 162 mph top speed) and most expensive EV currently available in the U.S. Starting just south of $200,000, the Taycan Turbo S is the cost-be-damned option that’s worth every cent. 


VOLVO XC40 Recharge
Volvo aims for half of global sales to be fully electric by 2025, and it all starts with electrifying its stylish and fun XC40 crossover. Class-leading safety standards are expected; Google-based Android infotainment and coming autonomy anticipate the future. XC40 Recharge will start at $54,985, but will arrive at under $48,000 after federal credits.