If you’re looking for an electric car, one of the main things you’ll want to know is its range.
For many, it’s a deciding factor, and until recently, the boom in EV sales has been seen as one of the main stumbling blocks to mass uptake. And rightly so, you need to know your car is going to be able to get you from A to B without the dreaded range anxiety setting in.
Below, we’ll look at range, how it’s calculated, as well as which EVs currently available in 2022 have the biggest mileage range.
What is electric car range?
Firstly, it’s important to understand what range is. For electric cars, it’s simply how far your car will travel from full charge without you having to recharge your vehicle.
There are lots of commonly asked questions when it comes to electric vehicle range, mainly because people are concerned about where they’re going to find a power source for their vehicle and how many miles they can get from a charge, while petrol stations are prolific and refuelling is quick.
How is electric car range calculated?
All cars sold in Europe – from diesel vans and petrol hatchbacks to hybrid saloons and electric SUVs – are tested using the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP). This is a global harmonised standard for determining the levels of pollutants, CO2 emissions and fuel consumption of vehicles so consumers have an accurate idea of what they’re getting.
More often than not, the range you’ll see advertised alongside an electric vehicle is the WLTP range. However, due to the variety of factors that can impact an EVs range it doesn’t paint an accurate picture.
There’s usually another measurement, known as ‘real world range’. This is because the noted WLTP range is not often achieved. As you’re about to read, there are numerous factors that can impact an EVs range.
What affects EV range?
- Your average speed
- How hard you accelerate
- Weather conditions
- Number of passengers
- How much weight is in the vehicle
- Use of air conditioning/heating
- The size of your tyres
- Battery wear
It makes sense really when you think about it. A vehicle will use more fuel – whatever the fuel is – if you drive fast, accelerate hard, or have the A/C blasting. Where EVs differ slightly is how much the range will drop if driving into a headlong wind for example.
Do electric cars lose range over time?
Just like if you were to drive a petrol or diesel-powered car, an electric vehicle’s power source becomes less efficient over time; giving you less range.
Think of your smartphone. When you bought it, it could last for days. Now, you’re lucky if you have some battery life after 12 hours.
It’s the same premise with electric cars – albeit not as severe. Over time, through use, an EV’s battery will lose some of its ability to hold charge, but that can be minimised.
If you look after your electric car – and we’ll go over some of the steps you can take shortly – it could end up being more reliable than a petrol or diesel equivalent.
For example, a test study conducted on a Tesla Model S found it still had battery health of 82% after covering 300,000 miles in a three-year period.
Now think of a petrol or diesel car that would be as efficient as the day it rolled off the production line after covering 300,000 miles. You can’t. That’s just mechanics, and EVs follow the same rule of thumb.
How to increase your electric car’s range
Battery technology is constantly improving, meaning newer electric cars not only have a bigger range than just five years ago but are able to use that charge more efficiently.
But even with these improvements, there are several other ways you can increase your EV’s range if you need to.
The most obvious would be considering a bigger battery. The battery is the life of your vehicle, and by putting a bigger unit in that can hold more charge, you’re going to get more miles.
Another great trick to increase your EV’s range is through pre-programming charging and heating.
Air conditioning, for example, needs a fair amount of energy to operate, more so when trying to either warm or cool the car in extreme weather temperature conditions.
The tip is to do it when the car is plugged in and charging. Once off charge, it can then retain the temperature using less energy. This will make a big difference, particularly during the winter.
Keeping the battery strong is important for electrical vehicles. And a big part of that is your charging routine.
If you make many regular shorter journeys and top-up the batteries frequently when you get home or while out and about, then charging to 80 per cent would be the best option.
Not only will your batteries charge faster – as it’s the last 20 per cent that takes the longest – but it puts less strain on your cells and keeps temperatures cool – preserving the life of your battery.
Speed and acceleration
Higher speed + greater acceleration = more energy used, it’s as simple as that. This goes for all cars regardless of power source, but it’s more relatable to electric vehicles.
Single-speed transmission means the motor needs to work harder at higher speeds. Power consumption can increase by 25% between 50mph and 70mph. Meanwhile, driving at a reduced speed makes your charge last longer.
This is the same for acceleration. Using a more gentle approach to gathering speed instead of racing ahead will help you keep more battery power for longer.
Like all cars, electric vehicles will use more energy going uphill than they will when driving on a flat road.
That’s because the power source needs to work harder to maintain speed on an incline. Admittedly, there’s not usually a lot you can do about the terrain you face. If there’s a hill, there’s a hill.
But if you can avoid it, do. Although, going downhill will actually benefit you.
One of the greatest features of all electrical vehicles is a system that uses the electric motor as a generator to reserve energy to replenish the battery when you step off the accelerator or brush the brakes.
It’s known as regenerative braking, and it’s most noticeable when you take your foot of the power and feel yourself slowing more than a petrol or diesel car.
The overall benefit of it is it gives you more miles on your range, as the energy that would usually be lost in braking and rolling is recaptured and added back into your battery.
Will electric vehicle range improve?
Yes, electric vehicle range is improving all the time. You can see from when you look at electric cars from five years ago to now, there’s already a vast difference in how far they’ll travel on a single charge.
Somewhere between 200 to 300 miles is about average on new electric cars, whereas not so long ago, even those numbers were thought of as out of reach.
EV batteries are also becoming cheaper to manufacture and more efficient as battery technology improves. So, even though the size of the batteries in the future may not be all that different, their output certainly will be.
Which electric cars have the longest range in 2022?
As we’ve already noted, range is one of the most important factors for drivers looking to lease an electric vehicle.
We’ve looked at EV Database, a completely independent publication which aims to gather as much real-world data as possible, to find the five EVs with the biggest range in 2022:
You can read more about each model in our article Top 5 longest range electric cars to lease in 2022
Finding the right electric car for you
If you’ve decided electric is the way to go, we can help you find the perfect car to suit your wants and needs.
Whether that’s a small city runaround, luxurious saloon or chunky SUV, you have a wide range of all-electric options available.
Use our handy search tool to wittle your options down or see a full list of what’s available right now.