500. In some ways, it’s just a number. The odds that you would be able to use 500-horsepower legally and responsibly on anything but a closed racetrack are almost non-existent. Yet there are more than a dozen gasoline-powered cars on the market for under $100,000 that are around or above that magic number. We’re not talking about exotic sports cars from Ferrari, Lamborghini, or Bugatti. We are talking about sedans and SIVs from Ford, GM, Stellantis, Jaguar, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and a host of others.
With dozens of new electric vehicles (EVs) coming to market in the next two years, it’s surprising how many will be available with more than 500-horsepower from their electric drive systems—in some cases much, much more.
Wait. Aren’t EVs supposed to represent a more responsible way of thinking of transportation? An average gasoline-powered vehicle has an overall efficiency of around 25 percent. That’s a lot of wasted energy. An EV has an efficiency of around 85-90 percent—an efficient way to travel. So why are car companies looking at building EVs that produce more than 500-horsepower and that carry the massive batteries necessary to provide the energy to give good range for such overpowered wonders?
Here’s the thing: The general public still is under the mistaken impression that most EVs are little more than electric golf carts that are pathetically slow and unable to keep up with normal traffic. By building absurdly overpowered EVs with the kind of horsepower that used to be reserved for only top performance cars, and acceleration times from zero to 60 mph of 3-5 seconds or less, the hope is that the public’s view of electrification will change. We are returning to the age of the traditional muscle car, reimagined as an electrically powered SUV.
Who needs a 500-horsepower EV? Frankly, nobody. The world is better served by lighter-weight more manageable vehicles that use less raw materials and take advantage of the electric drivetrain's greater efficiency. Such cars can be even more fun to drive as history tells us that smaller lighter cars are nimble, can handle and brake better, and provide a driving experience that traditional sports car owners will recognize. Instead, it seems that we will build overpowered beasts that accelerate furiously and use up vast amounts of raw materials and resources in the process. We are told it’s what the market wants…
Here are fourteen 2022 model year 500+ horsepower EVs that are or will be available in the US. They are fast and expensive. Are these vehicles what it will take to gain acceptance by the public of the electrification of transportation?
Kevin Clemens is a Senior Editor with Battery Technology.