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 Montreal auto show returns with an expanded range of electric-vehicle options

BY Prem Lee Prasannan Feb 10, 2023

The 2023 Montreal International Auto Show was the first public automobile event in Canada since the Covid pandemic began in 2020. It was no surprise to see car companies competing to make a bold statement in their electric technology advancement and future vision after a long pause.

This year the venue was packed with North American and Asian car brands. At the entrance, Buick debuted the stunning Wildcat EV electric-car concept. Apart from its all-electric features, it boasts the inclusion of advanced artificial intelligence and biometric technology. You’ll have to wait to find out the selling price when the model hits the market. On the other hand, the gas car line-up showed the 2023 Encore small SUV with a starting price at $28,192 to the seven-seater Enclave Avenir midsize SUV starting at $65,247.

Chevrolet continues its effort to transition from gas to electric in all segments, including cars, SUVs and trucks. The all-electric Equinox and Blazer SUVs are in the preproduction stage and are expected to reach the market in 2024. They will have a range of approximately 515 kilometres on full charge with an acceleration of 0-96 km/h in 4 seconds; this will surely excite many fast-lane and off-road drivers. 

Chevrolet’s electric vehicle propulsion warranty covers an eight-year period or 160,000 kms. In the car line-up, both the electric Bolt EV and Bolt EUV came without many changes from the previous year models with a price tag of around $40,000 and a driving range of approximately 400 kms on full charge.

In its truck lineup, the new Silverado EV is an all-electric truck, built on its Ultium battery platform, which focuses on electric propulsion, torque and zero emissions. It is expected to arrive at dealerships in fall 2023. It has a range of 640 kms on full charge with up to 754 HP and can hit from 0-96 km/h under 4.5 seconds. The regular gas version of Colorado, Silverado HD and Silverado 1500 were displayed with few changes from last year. Although the bottom level Colorado starts at $32,142, the fully loaded Silverado 1500 has a price tag of $87,092.

The new GMC Hummer EV is something that goes beyond our imagination in the electric truck and SUV category. This off-roader comes with a 1000 HP electric powertrain and can reach 0-100 km/h in 3.3 seconds. Interestingly, it has a rear-wheel steering system and can be driven sideways, what they call “Crabwalk mode” to move diagonally. Ruggedness is the signature design cue of Hummer vehicles; certainly, the look and specs of this vehicle have taken it to the next level of off-road driving imagination.

In the GMC SUV lineup, Terrain, Acadia and Yukon came in the small, midsize and full-size SUV category. The classic Acadia Denali gives customers two options, either a 2.0L Turbo 4-cylinder or 3.6L V6; both are 9-speed and have a host of options for shoppers to add on. If you are into American gas trim cars, this is something to check out.

In the luxury section, the all-electric Cadillac Lyriq midsize SUV caught a lot of attention this year for its modern styling and comfortable interior packed with advanced electronics. It offers rear-wheel and dual-motor options with a range of approximately 500 kms. The 33-inch diagonal display panel and its LED taillights make it unique among other contenders. 

The Korean car brands, Hyundai and Kia, brought excitement to visitors with their new concept cars and all-electric models. The futuristic design styling, improved product quality and their price positioning is well tailored to compete in the tough North American market.

With the launch of its new Ioniq 6 electric, Hyundai is prepared to compete directly with Tesla in the small-car segment. It may offer a similar or lesser price, advanced utility and a better design cue comparable to Porsche. Ioniq 6 comes with dual motors – front and rear – which provide the all-wheel drive function. It will get an approximate range of 540 kms on full charge. To get maximum value for your investment, it offers a powertrain and battery warranty for 10 years.

Hyundai is focused on shifting 90% of its current fleet either to fully electric or hybrid electric by 2025. There is surely a renewed enthusiasm to revive the brand image to compete with the big players. Check out the current production models – Ioniq 5, Tucson, Santa Fe, Elantra, Kona – all offer either electric, plug-in-hybrid or pure hybrid versions along with its gas variants. Interestingly, the price gap between gas and hybrid models is not as big as it was four years ago. It is evident that many of these pure gas cars will be eventually phased out.

The Kia EV6 is the answer for pure performance SUV seekers. It offers options with motors on rear wheels, dual, or a GT version. The GT version produces 576 horsepower and 545 lb. -ft. of torque and takes the car from 0-100 km/h in 3.5 seconds with a top speed of 260 km/h. With all these capabilities, it gives a decent electric driving range of 332 kms. The price starts at $50,000 and the fully loaded GT version goes for around $80,000. The other KIA electric and hybrid vehicles models – Niro, Sportage, Soul, Sorento – are currently available on the market along with their gas variants.

The newly arrived Vietnamese contingent VinFast is planning to launch its all-electric fleet, manufactured in Vietnam and shipped to North America. The parent company, Vingroup, is gearing up to bring four new SUV models, VF6 to VF9, which are currently in the preproduction stage. The price for these models is expected to range from $45,000 to $80,000 with an approximate range of 500 kms in one full change. It is still not known what the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) ratings will be for these cars in the harsh North American conditions. The product lineup is expected to reach North American dealerships in late 2023.

In Japanese cars, Toyota debuted its battery-electric SUV bZ4X with a 400 kms range. The exterior design is much sharper than the Prius and RAV4, but the interior styling looked average and didn’t quite stand up to its Korean competition. Its iconic Camry to Corolla, Venza, Highlander, Sequoia, Sienna and Tundra trucks all come with a hybrid variant. It is a clear sign from Toyota about their long-term strategy and ambition to move away from the gas-engine era.

To showcase Toyota’s on-going innovation in alternative fuels, the second-generation hydrogen fuel cell car Mirai came with a better look and design than the previous year model. On a single tank of hydrogen, it can run 647 kms while emitting only water when driving. It is yet to be seen how government agencies will help scale up more hydrogen filling stations across North America for a larger adoption of this technology.

The concept RZ is the first attempt Lexus is making to launch a fully electric car. It seems to have inherited design elements from Toyota’s bZ4X, a slightly scaled-up version for certain buyers. It has a standard all-wheel drive system, exotic interior lighting, and soft leather materials. The NX 450e is the only plug-in hybrid electric on the market and the company seems to be struggling to change its existing hybrid technology models like ESh, LCh and LSh. 

Automobile J Poirier displayed a host of its luxury collections in Ferrari and Porsche. The most expensive was the Ferrari F12 TDF with a price tag of $1.5 million, which comes with a V12 engine, and generates 796 HP to hit 0 to 100 in 2.9 seconds. If you are sitting on your flying yacht and wondering where the next small investment should go, this could be the one. As in previous years, Lamborghini Huracán had a quiet spot in the venue with a price tag of $469,900.

Over the last few years, electric vehicles zoomed in the fast lane but now can conquer rugged terrains. GMC’s Hummer and Hyundai’s Ioniq 6 are all making a big statement in how they envision the future of the auto industry. The electric initiative can only be successful when EV vehicles reach households at an affordable price along with radical improvements in battery technology, performance, driving range, improved charging time and undisruptive power grid. 

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Prem Lee Prasannan has a passion for green technology. He has been a freelance writer since 2011 with a special focus on electric vehicles. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Engineering and currently works at Air Canada.