On the ground, you can smell the money at Monterey Car Week. There are more vintage and modern Ferraris, Bugattis, and Lamborghinis in one place than you’ll ever see in person anywhere else on Earth.
The collective value of what’s in any parking lot for the auctions is more than what’s being bid on inside. But Monterey Car Week has also become the most interesting car show in the world, with debuts of carmakers’ more compelling future products — we mean electric cars. Even if those debuts are (mostly) from luxury or ultra-luxury brands, the design directions prove our EV future is about to get a lot more interesting.
These are some of the most exciting EVs Monterey’s annual car show has to offer.
1. 2024 Acura ZDX
Pebble Beach Car Week frequently features a lot of concepts, but this five-passenger EV is basically the car that will go into production, and as such Acura’s betting that its template — a sportier clone of their best-selling MDX — will move those family-car buyers across into the EV space.
A 102 kWh battery derived from GM’s Ultium system is said to offer up to 325 miles of range. The standard output A-Spec will offer 340 horsepower; the Type-S with front and rear motors ups that to 500 horsepower. Acura’s also switching to Android Auto as a back-end interface for drivers and passengers. Almost for sure that’s down to superior navigation, especially for getting your ZDX routed to charging infrastructure, and because these kinds of tech packages are plug-and-play infotainment systems for carmakers that allow them to do what they do better and focus on software around driving, not entertaining.
There’s a lot we still don’t know about the ZDX, but we do know that it’s nearly as long as the MDX and just a few inches lower, so it’ll be very roomy. What may be less happy-making is DC fast charging times; Acura is spinning this as being able to charge at rates up to 190 kW, saying “rear-wheel drive can gain an estimated 81 miles of range” in 10 minutes. But Kia’s EV6 recharges at up to 233 kW and it promises 10-80 percent battery in a mere 17 minutes. Both the Cadillac Lyriq and Chevy Blazer EV use this same 190 kW rating on fast charging and at least for the Cadillac, reviews have been meh for fast recharging.
2. Lamborghini Lanzador
At Monterey, carmakers are trying to get a little more interesting with their EVs. The only issue is actual production. One reason you’re seeing a lot of smooth shapes is that creases cut into aero, which hammers range. You can overcome that with massive batteries (hello, Hummer), but there’s no way anything that heavy nets you Lambo-level performance.
Lamborghini argues that it can overcome the radical shaping through more tech. It says that EVs — thanks to far more electric power — can in turn have more sensors and software to monitor and adjust the car’s air suspension, pace, cornering, as well as driver inputs to switch up the car’s wind cheating. On the Lanzador that would be achieved through louvers, spoilers, and shutters, all dancing around constantly to maximize aero. Lamborghini is also stressing “carbon capture” in a unique way, using both recycled carbon material and reclaimed PET for the seat foam. On the fun front, Lamborghini would equip this beast with dual motors capable of 1,000 kW (1,341 horsepower!), with all-wheel drive and all-wheel steering.
While it may seem outlandish, Lamborghini’s head of design, Mitja Borkert, explained that this concept is meant to signal a real production vehicle.
“We aren’t doing it for no reason. We want to show what we can do, not what we can’t,” Borkert told Inverse. The concept’s ultimate effect is something about the size of a Subaru Crosstrek that will probably cost around $400,000. You have until 2028 to make that bank, which is when any future Lanzador might debut.
3. Kia Limited Edition EV6
Even as Kia is on the doorstep of delivering the three-row EV9, it’s getting in the game of sexying up the already on-sale EV6. Hey, why not? This car won the North American Utility of the Year Award last year. This version will come in a special Deep Forest Green paint and a pretty gorgeous brown leather cockpit, GT Line 20-inch wheels, and tech that fuses together options from the usual EV6’s Wind and GT levels, with unique interior trim not found on either of those. Kia’s senior exterior designer, Berk Erner, explained that the carmaker has been working under an ethos it calls “opposites united.”
“There’s not one aesthetic value in the world and we play with that. It’s like a chef combining both sweet and sour flavors. As a designer, you can grab those opposites,” Erner told Inverse.
That could seem like a jumble, but with Kia right now all their designs manage to be both fluid as well as interesting, yet not busy.
The Limited Edition models roll with 320-horsepower, dual-motor AWD setups powered by a 77.4 kWh battery pack. Inside, there’s a heads-up display, surround view sensing for parking and lane keeping, blind-spot sensing, auto-braking, distance cruise control, and heating for all seats. Like the standard EV6, ultra-fast onboard charging allows 10-80 percent charge in 17 minutes via DC fast charging.
Kia hasn’t released pricing yet. That will come later this year.
4. Lexus RZ Sport Concept
Lexus first revealed this EV concept — based on the $60,000 production 450e — at last January’s Tokyo Auto Salon. This is its first showing in North America.
The present 450e is hardly meek, with a combined 308 horsepower, but here Lexus says the concept would have dual 150 kW motors (front and rear) and be good for about 402 horsepower. That’s of course fantasy; no telling if this concept actually runs. It does sit on ultra-wide, 295 / 35R21 rubber, and rather than a bench rear seat, there are buckets all around.
One thing you can say: the RZ Sport is hardly mild-mannered Lexus as usual. When you see it in person it’s clear that Lexus wants to attract younger customers. And not just because it’s a little longer, wider, and slammed. Look beyond the excessive hood scooping and frowning front lower lip, and even the double wings and blistered fenders, and you can see a potentially more muscular future Lexus. If Toyota can make the totally wild GR Corolla, why can’t Lexus find its inner demon with limited-run badassery like the RZ?
5. 2024 Maserati GranTurismo Luce Folgore
Folgore means “lightning” in Italian. With three electric motors and a combined 818 horsepower, you’ll see 0-60 mph in under three seconds — that is if you have north of $200,000 for a down payment. Oh, sure it would be easy to say, “who cares,” given that price, but the design direction matters. You don’t see EVs that look like this yet, but for electrification to gain mass appeal you’ll need all shapes and sizes. Remember that real-world trickle down (not the silly tax logic) always starts with expensive stuff tried out on first adopters before it hits a certain demand level.
The drivetrain layout is unique. A motor drives each rear wheel, with a third at the front axle. That lets Maserati power each of the rear wheels and allows instant torque vectoring as you steer. We can only imagine the kind of rotation you’d get, particularly because this car is ultra-low. Note that Maserati’s battery supplier is the same as the LG-based system as Porsche uses for the Taycan, and Maserati says it’ll get about 240 miles of range. The Folgore is gorgeous, but like all the fantasy-land cars at Monterey Car Week, won’t sell for cheap. Still, the integrity of the idea is sound, and future EV sports cars may indeed adopt a layout like the 2+2 Folgore, because long, low, and sleek is a timeless approach that works on the mass-market level, too.