A car for every plug and purpose

Almost every brand has some kind of plug-in vehicle headed to U.S. dealerships in the next five years, if not a bunch of them.

Many are versions of gasoline-powered nameplates, but automakers are increasingly seeing the need to roll out dedicated electric vehicles or vehicle lines as well.

Daimler AG is spending more than $11 billion to bring at least 10 new EVs to market under its new Mercedes-Benz EQ subbrand by 2022.

The motive isn't short-term profits; BMW CEO Harald Krueger told reporters in Frankfurt that EVs generally will have lower margins than vehicles with internal combustion engines.

But in the long run, automakers want to ensure they don't get left behind their competitors as more consumers decide that an EV or plug-in hybrid can work for their lifestyle. By 2021, it's clear that consumers will have an abundance of such choices to consider, in a broad spectrum of segments, body styles and price ranges.

Here is what Automotive News has reported to be in the pipeline so far.

BMW i3: The compact electric car is updated this year with a new 33 kilowatt-hour battery, increasing the range on a single charge to 114 miles from 81. A new sporty i3S model, unveiled last month at the Frankfurt auto show, arrives by year end. The i3S has more power, minor styling tweaks and a slightly lower ride. The new battery will go into the i3 REx range extender model with a two-cylinder engine, expected in 2018.

Honda Clarity: By year end, Honda's Clarity lineup of plug-in hybrid, electric and fuel cell models will be available in limited markets. Whether each version gets a successor is another question. The electric model could be replaced by a stand-alone EV in the next decade, while plug-in versions of several Honda models could make a Clarity plug-in hybrid moot.

Hyundai Ioniq: Hyundai's dedicated green-car line gains a plug-in hybrid this fall. What comes next will depend on consumer appetites. The next-gen Ioniq line could switch to a crossover body style; Kia's Niro hybrid crossover, which shares the Ioniq's underpinnings, is outselling the entire Ioniq line this year.

Kia Niro: A plug-in version of the hybrid crossover arrives late this year as a 2018 model. It will have a 1.6-liter gasoline engine and an electric motor and offer about 34 miles of pure EV driving. A freshening should land in 2020.

Mitsubishi Outlander: A plug-in version of the current-generation Outlander will go on sale by year end as a 2018 model with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and a pair of electric motors. U.S. sales volumes will be small, likely on the order of 2,000 a year.

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