Electric Car Range Guide

Date Posted 2nd August 2021
Read Time 9 min read
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If you’re looking for an electric car, one of the main things you’ll want to know is it’s range. 

For many, it’s a deciding factor. And rightly so. It’s important to ensure your new vehicle is going to fit all your needs – including how often you’re going to have to charge it and how far you can travel before you need to plug back in. 

But if you’re unsure exactly what it is you’re meant to be looking for, or are just keen to find out a bit more about electric vehicles, we can help. 

What is 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 having to recharge your vehicle. 

Range on a petrol or diesel car is the same concept; how far can your car travel on a full tank of fuel.  

There are lots of commonly asked questions when it comes to electric vehicle range, something people rarely think about when buying a petrol or diesel vehicle. 

Perhaps that’s because people are concerned about where they’re going to find a power source for their vehicle, while petrol stations are ten a penny. 

In this article, we’ll try to put your mind at ease by answering some of the most common questions, including:

Common Questions Surrounding Range

  • What is WLTP (World Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure) and is it trustworthy?
  • Are there any factors that affect the range of an electric vehicle?
  • Do electric vehicles lose range over time?
  • Can you increase the range of an electric vehicle?

  • Will the range of electric vehicles improve?
  • What vehicles have the longest range?
  • Are there any other engines I should consider

So, let’s get started.

What is WLTP?

All cars sold in Europe are tested using the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure, also referred to as the (WLTP). 

The range of an electric vehicle is just one of the criteria tested under this procedure. 

Often, you’ll see the range advertised alongside most electric vehicles, and that’s its WLTP range.. 

However, 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 the range. 

So does that make WLTP untrustworthy? 

While many are thrilled to finally have tests that get closer to the real-world range for electric vehicles, they’re not always 100% accurate. 

As people drive differently; using different amounts of electricity, and there are only so many real-world situations you can mimic, it’s never going to be exact. 

However, when comparing electric vehicles against one another, if range is important to you – which it most likely will be – it’s a good barometer of how different cars stack up against one another. 

Just remember, when you’re behind the wheel on your daily commute, you may not always have as many miles of driving at your disposal as the WLTP tests suggest. 

Factors affecting range

As we touched on earlier, electric range – just like a petrol or diesel car – can vary depending on where it is and how it’s driven. 

Common Impacts To An Electric Vehicles Range

  • Your average speed
  • How hard you accelerate
  • The type of road you’re driving on
  • Weather conditions,
  • How many passengers are in the vehicle

  • How much weight is in the vehicle
  • How much you use features such as lights and air conditioning
  • The condition 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 and you’re ferrying around a car-load of passengers or luggage compared to if you drove economically. 

Do vehicles 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 electric cars are able to hold a bigger charge from a single fill-up; giving you more range. 

But even with these improvements, there are several other ways you can increase your EV’s range if you need to. 

Battery size 

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. 

Changing your battery mid-way through isn’t cheap – in fact, it’s the most expensive part of an EV you can replace. But if you’re desperate for more miles, you can – or you could choose the biggest battery offering when looking into a new electric car lease. 

Planning ahead

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 during the winter particularly.  

Battery conditioning 

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 & acceleration 

Higher speed and 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.

Terrain 

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. 

Regenerative braking 

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. 

What vehicles have the longest range?

As we’ve already noted, when looking for an electric car, range is important. And if it’s your main buying motive, you’ll want to know which models give you the most miles from a single charge. 

So, to help in your search, here’s a list of the vehicles with the longest electric range according to their WLTP figures.

Tesla Model S – 379 Miles

Tesla Model 3 Long Range – 348 Miles

Tesla Model X Long Range – 314 Miles

Jaguar I-Pace – 298 Miles

Kia E-Niro – 282 Miles

Hyundai Kona Electric – 278 Miles

Mercedes0-Benz EQC – 258 Miles

Audi E-Tron – 239 Miles

Nissan Leaf e+ – 239 Miles

Should I consider other engines?

Whether or not you should consider other types of engine – petrol or diesel – completely depends on your wants, needs and circumstances. 

If an electric car isn’t going to be suitable for your day-to-day life and will end up being more of a hindrance than anything else, then absolutely you should look at other options. 

However, if you think an electric car could be right for you – and given the way they’ve developed over the last few years, that is more people than ever – then no, don’t consider anything else. Just find the right electric car for you. 

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

Or, if you’d prefer to see which electric car suits your budget, you can get your finance approval first and then find your vehicle afterwards.

By using our quick and easy online application form, you can find out whether you’ll be approved for finance in minutes without affecting your credit score. 

Just click the banner below to get started.