Range of electric cars and growing consumer adoption
In 2022, electric car sales exceeded 10 million last year. To put this in perspective, this means electric car sales were up 55% relative to 2021.
However, while electric car sales continue to break records, many still have concerns about the range of electric cars.
According to our Mobility Monitor report, around 40 percent of all potential EV drivers are worried they won’t be able to charge their car when they need to and are afraid to run out of power on the road.
While this fear is understandable, it is also unnecessary.
How far can electric cars go?
According to data that was available in December of 2022, the average electric vehicle has a range of 348 km (216 miles).
Of course, there is not a single correct answer when talking about the electric car range. How far an EV can go depends—quite understandably—on which vehicle you’re driving, the battery’s state of charge, as well as your driving behavior, and even weather conditions.
Disclaimers aside though, the median range of electric vehicles has increased significantly in the past years.
Did you know that In 2011, there were only three different models of all-electric vehicles on the market? According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, their range spanned from approximately 100 km to 150 km max (63 to 94 miles) on a full charge.
Today, as described above, that number is much higher and sits around 348 km (216 miles).
Longest range EV
So, which EV has the longest range?
At present, Lucid Air Dream (Range Edition) takes the crown. Based on moderate driving style and climate conditions, the real-life range is estimated to be 685 km (425 miles).
As stated before –and as we’ll explain in more detail a little later in this article– the real-life electric car range is dependent on a few factors.
The Lucid Air Dream Range edition claims to have a minimum range of 505 km (313 miles) when driving on the highway in cold weather conditions, and a maximum range of a whopping 960 km (596 miles) when driving in the city in mild weather conditions.
Top-5 EVs with the longest range
Ok so, the Lucid Air Dream has the number one spot, but what about others?
Here’s a quick overview of the top 5 electric car models that currently have the longest range available.
Shortest range EV
On the other side of the spectrum, you might be wondering, which electric car has the shortest range?
As the rule of thumb goes, the larger the vehicle, the bigger the battery can be. The reverse is also true. With less space for a battery, small city cars are designed to be agile, cheap to run, and easy to park—but not to travel long distances.
The smallest EV we could find when writing this article was the Smart EQ fortwo Cabrio, a two-seater city car (with convertible options) with a range of 95 km (59 miles) on a single charge. However, a full charge would take only 55 minutes at a charging speed of 22 kW—much less than charging an EV that holds a larger battery.
The growing range of EVs
Back in the humble beginnings of EVs, the best-selling electric car, the Nissan LEAF, had a maximum range of about 160 km (100 miles). Fast-forward to today, and we see that the 2023 Nissan Leaf has a range of up to 341 km (212 miles).
The new Hyundai Kona, Volkswagen ID.4, and Kia EV6 (all with a fairly affordable price tag) can reach 400-500 km (249- 310 miles) on a single charge too.
The main reason?
Batteries have become more powerful and less expensive.
Batteries are the most expensive component when making an EV. Their price has fallen significantly over the past decade and because of it, EVs are expected to reach cost parity with internal combustion cars by 2026.
What affects the driving range for EVs?
We already mentioned that the main factor dictating the range of your electric car is the size of its battery.
However, battery size isn’t the only thing that affects an EV’s range.
The quicker you drive, how much you need to accelerate, whether you turn on your air conditioning or the heater, as well as how warm it is outside, all affect how far you can go on a single charge.
Let's break it down.
The faster you drive or the more aggressively you accelerate, the quicker the battery of the EV drains.
The colder it is outside, the faster the battery drains.
When you use the heating, cooling, or other electrical-powered features, this affects the distance an EV can drive on a single tank.
To bring these factors to life, Renault has a handy tool for its ZOE e-Tech Electric where you can input driving conditions and see the battery capacity change.
Best EV range
So, while an EV range of more than 600 km (372 miles) is possible, it doesn't necessarily mean it’s the best range for you.
Simply put, a good range meets the needs of the driver.
The range is a key EV metric when choosing an EV and is one that many potential EV drivers consider carefully before investing.
Practically speaking, however, the range isn’t the holy grail that many consider it to be.
Range of electric cars should match your driving behavior
The vast majority of people don’t get close to driving their vehicle flat in a single day; regardless of whether it’s an EV or a gasoline car. For instance, in the US, the average American drives 21,687 km (13,4760 miles) per year or roughly 59.5 km (37 miles) a day.
In Europe, this average differs per country but is, on average, less than half of what they drive in the US; individuals in Germany drive an average of approximately 19 km (11 miles) per day and in Greece, this number can be as low as 5.6 km (3.4 miles) per day.
The bottom line is that most of our daily commutes won’t even come close to reaching an EV's maximum range.
What’s more, since “topping up” an EV works differently than putting gas in an ICE vehicle—as charging can be done while you sleep or while you’re at work—the fear of running out of juice isn’t as prominent as you may think at first.
Vehicle manufacturers have also put a lot of effort into quelling drivers' fears of range anxiety with several innovative features; including the Driving to Empty (DTE) metric which is visible on a vehicle’s dashboard.
What is DTE?
DTE stands for Driving to Empty and is a moving extrapolated average of how far you can drive with the remaining charge of an EV’s battery. Simply put, it’s how far you can go until your battery is depleted.
As the range shown is an average based on current factors, it’s always a guesstimate to predict future performance. This number is based on how long you have already driven on a single charge, the current state of charge, and driving conditions and is translated into a distance number.
For drivers, this knowledge is critical as there is no leeway with EVs. As soon as that number reaches zero, it’s game over and the vehicle must be towed to a charging point. Unlike gasoline cars, roadside assistance can't bring a small volume of fuel, so the vehicle must be physically transported to a charging station—an event that’s not cheap, both in terms of time and money nor is it good for your vehicle’s battery.
To avoid this scenario, many electric vehicles make it difficult to run out of charge. For example, some premium vehicles will calculate your remaining range and warn you exactly when you're about to leave the vicinity of a charging station. Others, such as the Nissan Leaf, go into Turtle Mode before completely turning off, where it enters “crawling” mode at 50 km/h (30mph) for just over a kilometer, giving the driver enough time to reach a safe space to call for help.
However, as DTE is based on current conditions, it shouldn’t be taken as gospel. A hundred kilometers will differ if you change your driving style or turn your heater and headlights on. If you’re cruising towards empty and the DTE indicates you can just make it, it’s best to try and maintain an energy-efficient driving style.
Do electric cars lose range over time?
Yes, but not as much as you may think or as fast as you may fear. Under current estimates, most EV batteries will last between 15-20 years or 100,000 to 200,000 miles before they need to be replaced, it is more likely that the battery will outlast the car.
And contrary to popular belief, EV batteries don’t simply stop working. Instead, they slowly degrade over time.
A battery gradually loses capacity with many reporting a loss of only a few percent over several years. When looking at the average decline across all vehicles, that loss averages out at 2.3 percent per year.
To demonstrate, if you purchase an EV today with a 350 km (217 miles) range, after five years the battery will have only lost about 40 km (24 miles) of accessible range.
To put consumers' reservations to rest, many manufacturers give a warranty on their battery which is usually between eight and ten years which exceeds the usual warranty for combustion engines which is only 5 years.
Find out more about EV charging
Driving an electric vehicle is –in many ways– a lot different from driving a car that runs on gas. The concept of charging, especially, is new to many people. Take a look at our extensive guide and discover all there is to know about EV charging. Learn what charging a vehicle costs, how much time it takes, the most commonly used –and preferred– charging locations, the difference between Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 charging, battery life, and understanding the different cables, plugs, and connector types.
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