Range and driving
What’s the range of an electric car?
When we talk about range for electric cars, what we’re really asking is: ‘How far can you drive with a full charge?’
So if you’ve got 100% charge, will your car travel 150 miles, 200 miles or more?
If you’re used to a petrol or diesel car, you might be used to thinking about range a bit differently: how many miles you can travel with a full tank of fuel.
How much range do electric cars have?
Most electric cars have about 100 to 400 miles at the moment, with an average range of almost 260 miles.
How much range do I need?
This really comes down to how you’ll use the car. It’s well worth doing some sums before you decide.
Most drivers’ first thought is to buy the longest-range car they can. After all, you don’t want to run out of charge.
That’s not always the smartest choice, though. Long range vehicles need bigger batteries, which are heavy to haul around and so make the car in-efficient. They also make a car more expensive – so it’s worth asking what sort of range you’ll really use.
In the UK, the average journey length in 2019 was just 8.4 miles, with drivers making an average of 18 trips a week. So if the average driver had a Nissan LEAF with a 145-mile range, that would just about cover their weekly driving from one charge.
We recommend keeping track of how far you’re driving in a week and how often you’re parking somewhere you can charge. This will give you a better idea of your ideal range.
Can I do a long trip in an electric car?
Absolutely – people regularly travel the length and breadth of the country in battery-powered cars. They’re a delight to drive on longer trips because they’re much quieter without the engine noise of petrol or diesel cars.
Just plan out how far you’re going, what your range is, and where you’re going to stop and charge. As more and more charging stations are built, it’s getting easier to top up when you need – but it’s still worth planning your trip.
Lots of apps let you enter a route and then suggest charging points. Some will even let you enter your specific car and then tell you where to stop based on your range and charge level.
What is range anxiety?
It’s something we hear a lot about – it’s the worry that drivers are going to run out of charge before they reach a charging point.
The good news is it’s easy to cure. Almost everyone loses their range anxiety when they start driving an electric car regularly.
Why? Because now there are plenty of chargers (and more popping up all the time). Also, cars’ range meters are getting more and more accurate. It’s not like a petrol or diesel car where you top up when the fuel needle drops into the red. Instead, you can get a fairly accurate prediction of how far you can travel.
If you’re worried, you can even turn on an eco mode to make the most of your remaining juice. This clever mode reduces your car’s acceleration to help you reduce your power consumption.
Range and cars
What sort of electric car has the most range?
Generally, bigger cars have a longer range because they’ve got room for bigger batteries. But it’s a bit more complicated than that because it’s not just about battery size: it also depends on how efficient the car is. Generally, though, the longest-range cars will be saloons and SUVs with room for bigger batteries.
Which electric car has the longest range?
Only a handful of cars can top 300 miles of range at the moment – and most of those are large luxury sedans. The Mercedes EQS 450+ is currently top of the list with a range of 395 miles. In fact, the company has managed to produce a one-off research prototype car which has covered 747 miles from Stuttgart in Germany to Silverstone in the UK without needing to top up.
How is range measured?
What affects range?
How does average speed affect range?
As a rule, the faster you drive, the lower your range. Why? It’s mostly down to air resistance. The faster you’re travelling, the more air your car has to force out of the way every second. This all takes energy, so you’ll use more by travelling at speed.
How does acceleration and braking affect range?
Heavy feet on the pedals will eat into your range. Every time you accelerate or brake sharply to slow down you’re reducing your range – either by using battery power to speed up, or by losing speed from braking.
Regenerative braking really helps, which is when your car recovers energy you’d usually lose from braking and uses it to top up the battery.
Instead, try to think smooth thoughts, put on some easy listening music, and keep your speed as constant as you can!
How does the weather affect range?
Bad weather can make a big difference to range for three reasons. First, batteries are less efficient when they’re cold. Second, cold air means cold air which is denser which means it takes more energy to drive in rain, wind and snow. And third, you’ll probably have the heaters on to keep you warm if you’re driving in winter – which uses battery power too.
Range and efficiency
How can I increase my range?
The simple answer is to drive more efficiently. That means you’ll get further from your battery’s charge. Some simple ways to do that include:
- Drive smoothly – accelerating gently is far more efficient that launching yourself from the traffic lights every time.
- Drive slower – you’ll see big gains in range by travelling at 60mph or less. Faster than this and more drag means less range.
- Use regenerative braking – if you’re slowing down, try to stay off the brake pedal and let the regenerative braking do its thing,
- Turn down climate controls – heating and cooling both use energy, so turning them down or using heated seats instead will give you more range.
- Check your tyres – under-inflated tyres will sap your range, so check your pressures regularly.