Fastest electric cars in the world 2020
Zero CO2 emissions, significantly reduced local air pollution and ultra-low running costs are the chief benefits of electric cars. But one of the side effects of how they work is that they tend to be quite fast – faster than equivalent petrol and diesel models in almost all instances, and very fast indeed in the most extreme (and expensive) cases.
A key characteristic of electric cars is that their drivetrains are simpler than a petrol or diesel engine. There's much less lag, wasted energy and inertia than you get with an internal-combustion setup, so maximum power and torque are delivered the instant you step on the accelerator.
Car manufacturers big and small have taken advantage of this, producing massively fast and powerful electric supercars, hypercars and racing cars. Power outputs in excess of 1,000bhp and 0-62mph times of two seconds or less aren't uncommon in this context.
Although many of these models are either development prototypes or extremely expensive and exclusive limited-run offerings, the technology and thinking behind them is expected to rapidly trickle down to more accessible electric performance cars in coming years. This bodes well for the future of driving enjoyment as the world shifts to zero-emissions mobility.
Read on for our rundown of the fastest electric cars you can buy (and a few that you can't)...
Aston Martin Rapide E: top speed 155mph
The first all-electric Aston Martin – excluding the classic electric conversions the company is doing, starting with the DB6 Volante – is this, the Rapide E. Based on the petrol Rapide, the E takes that car’s luxurious, sporty GT character and adds an electric powertrain. It was developed in conjunction with Williams Advanced Engineering and features a 65kWh battery and electric motors making 602bhp.
Acceleration is impressive, with 0-60mph taking less than four seconds and the 50-70mph overtaking sprint completed in just 1.5 seconds. A top speed of 155mph is claimed. There was a plan to build 155 examples of the Rapide E at the company’s factory in St Athan, South Wales, at a cost of around £250,000, but changes at the top of the company have put the brakes on that – the Rapide will thus remain a concept only.
Porsche Taycan: 0-62mph in 2.8s, top speed 161mph
Unlike some of the cars on this list, the Taycan is something you can actually go out and buy today – albeit for a fairly high price. It proves you can transport four adults in comfort, while still keeping the driver entertained with engaging handling and seriously quick acceleration.
The range-topping Taycan Turbo S model dispatches with the 0-62mph sprint in a Ferrari-bothering 2.8 seconds and tops out at an impressive 161mph, so it'll be right at home on the derestricted autobahns of its native Germany. The Taycan is about more than just raw speed, though; it offers the same superb handling that other Porsches – from the petrol-powered 911 to the hybrid Panamera – are renowned for.
Lotus Evija: top speed over 200mph
Traditional British sportscar manufacturer Lotus isn't holding back for its first electric model. The Evija (pronounced 'E-vi-ya') sells for a cool £2 million, with buyers getting 1,972bhp, a 0-60mph time of less than three seconds and a top speed of over 200mph. The first year of production has already sold out.
In keeping with Lotus tradition, the Evija is as light as possible, as it's built around a carbon-fibre chassis and has all carbon-fibre body panels, too. A 'tunnel' through the bodywork boosts airflow, while a splitter at the front channels cooling air to the car's battery pack.
Genovation GXE: top speed 209mph
It looks like an old Corvette, but the Genovation GXE is completely different under its familiar metal. There’s a bespoke chassis and drivetrain developed by Genovation, with enough power for a 209mph top speed and a roughly three-second 0-62mph time.
The company has been working on a follow-up to the car based on the latest Corvette that’s tipped to be the first street-legal electric car to exceed 220mph. You’ll reach the national speed limit in less than three seconds, while a 61.6kWh battery – spread throughout the car to manage weight distribution – should make for a range of around 175 miles.
Pininfarina Battista: top speed 217mph
With a powertrain provided by Rimac, the Pininfarina Battista boasts extraordinary performance figures that are unsurprisingly similar to those of the C_Two above. Four electric motors combine to produce 1,873bhp and 2,300Nm of torque; 0-62mph is said to take less than two seconds, with 0-186mph dealt with in just 12 seconds.
A top speed of 217mph isn't quiet as extreme as the C_Two, but buyers are unlikely to care: the Battista's gorgeous bodywork has been crafted by a company responsible for some of the prettiest Ferraris ever made. The Battista might just be up there with the best of them.
Tesla Roadster: 0-62mph in 1.9s, top speed 250mph
It’s not on sale yet – it should arrive in 2022 – but the Tesla Roadster looks set to be a force to reckoned with for all supercars, electric or otherwise. The claimed figures speak for themselves: 0-62mph in 1.9 seconds, 0-100mph in 4.2 seconds, a standing quarter mile in 8.9 seconds and a top speed of around 250mph. Power has yet to be revealed, but the torque figure is expected to be an incredible 10,000Nm.
Set to go on sale in 2022, the Roadster will be powered by three electric motors and a 200kWh battery that should give a range of 620 miles – although we imagine that figure will drop dramatically if you plan to use every last drop of the car’s remarkable performance.
Rimac C_Two: 0-62mph in 1.9s, top speed 258mph
The latest product from the Croatian manufacturer – made famous by The Grand Tour presenter Richard Hammond’s high-profile crash in 2017 – the Rimac C_Two replaces the Concept One and was designed afresh from the ground up. Power comes from four in-wheel motors that combine to produce 1,888bhp and 2,300Nm of torque.
Performance is suitably impressive: 0-62mph takes 1.85 seconds and the top speed is 258mph. The C_Two has a 120kWh battery that gives 400 miles of driving range, while an 80% charge can be achieved in just half an hour with a rapid charger.
Nio EP9: Chinese trailblazer
One of the most futuristic-looking cars on this list is the Nio EP9, the flagship supercar from a Chinese manufacturer that means serious business. In-wheel motors give four-wheel drive, the slippery body provides plenty of downforce and there's a total of 1,341bhp on tap.
Exact performance figures haven't been released, but the car’s 6m45s lap of the Nurburgring in Germany gives cars like the Porsche 918 Spyder a run for their money. Claimed range is 265 miles, while the battery can be swapped directly for fully charged replacements. Though originally slated for limited-run production, it seems the EP9 will now just stand as the brand's technical showcase.
Volkswagen ID. R: Nurburgring record holder
The NIO EP9 didn't hold the electric lap record at the Nurburgring for long: the Volkswagen ID. R electric racer lowered the benchmark to just over six minutes and five seconds in June 2019. Other records set by the car include the Goodwood Festival of Speed hillclimb and the ascent of the Tianmen Shan Big Gate Road in China.
The ID.R was initially built to win the 2018 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, and it did so in some style. Its time of 7m57.148s along the 12.24-mile course smashed the existing record by 16.73 seconds, becoming the first vehicle to dip under the eight-minute mark.
Formula E 'Gen2': single-seater racer
The latest generation of Formula E cars are incredible racing cars, indended as the pure-electric answer to Formula 1. While previous seasons required drivers to change cars mid-race, the latest racers have a much larger battery capacity (54kWh) and can go the full distance.
Acceleration from 0-62mph takes less than three seconds and the car weighs just 900kg, with 350bhp or so on tap. Sophisticated and futuristic aerodynamics help drivers extract the most from the series' road-car-like tyres.
Buckeye Bullet 3: top speed 342mph
Claiming the title of the world’s fastest electric car is this, the catchily named Buckeye Bullet 3. The car was developed by Ohio State University in conjunction with French company Venturi to take on the world speed record for electric cars at the famous Bonneville Salt Flats in September 2016.
The result of their efforts was 342.144mph, thanks to two separate electric drivetrains and supremely slippery bodywork with a drag coefficient of just 0.13. Further attempts at the record by the Buckeye Bullet team are expected to clear 400mph; a hydrogen-electric version is also in the works.