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Electric cars now among the best you can buy
Hardware Mobility Opinion 4 min read 3 comments

Electric cars now among the best you can buy

Europe's largest automotive club with more than 20 million members, ADAC, has taken stock of the car market in 2018 and come to a surprising conclusion. Electric cars can compete with the absolute top class vehicles in the world.

The ADAC test is famous in Europe for being extremely expansive. Engineers in the Landsberg technology center in southwestern Bavaria, Germany, test cars against more than 300 points before deciding on a final score. The most important criteria are those relating to safety and environmental efficiency, such as CO2 emissions, which count double.

The scoring system is a little confusing at first, but it essentially mirrors German academic grading. Scores range from 1 to 6, with 1 being the best. For example, a 1.5 is like a B+ whilst a 4 is like a D. Some vehicles in the ADAC tests scored less than 1, which is like getting an A* in a UK school.

No fewer than four all-electric cars achieved an overall score of 1.9 in the ADAC test this year: two Mercedes vehicles, the C220d 9G-Tronic and the S400d 9G-Tronic as well as the Tesla Model X and the Volkswagen e-Golf. That amounts to a 50-50 split between EV and ICE in the top league of cars, according to ADAC - which is a big surprise!

One thing should be mentioned straight away: there are justified doubts concerning the objectivity of ADAC in these autotests. In the past, the association has been conspicuous with a considerable tendency for corruption. This is said to have improved over the past few years, but it is difficult to verify from the outside. Nevertheless, the results of ADAC tests give us a good indication of the trends in the automotive industry.

Electric cars can keep up

It is precisely these trends that show a clear message: electric cars can now compete with the long-established burners. The VW e-Golf is the only car to achieve a 1.0 environmental rating. The Tesla Model X is in fifth place in this discipline with a score of 1.7. Engine performance, chassis, bodywork, interior quality - none of these values really hinder the top electric cars in comparison with the combustion engine competition.

press03 model x front three quarter with doors open
The Tesla Model X is the third best car in 2018, according to ADAC. / © Tesla

For a long time, the range was one of the criteria that prevented the ADAC testers from placing electric cars in the top spots in its leaderboard. However, the club is fully satisfied with the Tesla Model X and its 450-kilometer range as measured by ADAC, and the 200 kilometers' worth of stamina in the VW e-Golf, both of which are loosely enough for most everyday driving.

Tesla is still too expensive as a brand

The Tesla Model X scores very differently when it comes to value for money. A mark of 5.5 for car costs and 3.7 for price-to-performance ratio shows that e-mobility is still too expensive at Tesla. The VW e-Golf is doing better, achieving a score of 1.9 in terms of costs - enough to earn in a position in the top third of all cars.

Stepping away from the scores for a minute, I find the change of heart in the current ADAC ranking of the best cars particularly exciting. There are not really many electric cars yet if you compare the market with the variety of models with combustion engines. But those that do exist are now regarded by experts as really good and suitable for everyday use, if you have the money to buy one. For a car category that is still quite young in terms of the mass market, this is a great achievement. The excuses for buying another car with a petrol or diesel engine are getting fewer and fewer.

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  • As everyone says the car design is less important than the battery.


  • Would like to see a breakthrough in battery technology before the highly anticipated global adoption of electric cars.


  • The battery is still the elephant in the room. Just last week the AAA reported cold weather reduces range: "For example, AAA's testers determined that the Tesla's range when fully charged at 75 degrees was 239 miles, but it fell 91 miles, or 38 per cent, at 20 degrees." (CTV News, Canada) There are also significant reductions when it's too hot out. I'd consider a hybrid, or fingers crossed a hydrogen fuel cell when that slow ship comes in, but not all lithium ion battery power.