EV Range: How far can an electric vehicle take you?

This blog was written by Anne Blair, former Director of the Clean Fuels Program at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

Guest Blog | May 15, 2017 | Clean Transportation, Electric Vehicles

The most frequent question I get when talking about electric vehicles (EVs) is how far can they go? 

There is no single answer — it depends on your choice of EV! Today, there are now a growing number of diverse EVs on the market. Battery electric vehicles run exclusively on electricity via batteries (often referred to as BEVs or just EVs). Plug-in electric vehicles (PHEVs) combine an electric motor and an internal combustion engine (gasoline engine), and the electric motor can be recharged by plugging the vehicle into an electrical outlet.

Battery technology is the key to EV range (how far the vehicle can travel on a charge). Most EVs today with fully-charged batteries have a driving range between 70 to 100 miles. According to reports, this range falls well within the average day-to-day range requirements of most Americans (the average driving range for most Americans is 37 miles per day). While less than 1% of American households have gone electric, a study from the Union of Concerned Scientists demonstrates that more than 42% could use today’s EVs! The options are also greatly expanding, with more than 32 different EV models that can meet those needs.

Within just the the last year, range has also increased on most models available. Some EVs can go nearly 300 miles on a single charge. For example, the first-generation Nissan LEAF, the most popular EV on the road today, had a range of 73 miles. The 2017 LEAF has an estimated range of 107 miles! Even better, the next generation LEAF, dubbed the LEAF 2.0, is expected to have a driving range in excess of 200 miles on a single charge. Nissan’s CEO has reported that they expect to have their  “EV flagship” with a range of around 300 miles by 2020.  

Recently, Evatran, the owner of Plugless, wireless EV charging, developed cool new graphics to shed light on the range of various EVs on the market. As you can see from the maps, EV range varies and continues to increase. So, let’s break it down:

Tesla models, to date, have the longest all-electric range of any other EV on the road. The Chevy Bolt, which we blogged on previously, is making waves in the industry and was recently named Motor Trend’s Car of the Year. It can go more than 238 miles on a single charge. That means you could go from Atlanta to Charlotte or Miami to Orlando, with range to spare. The new 2017 Ford Focus Electric has increased its estimated range from the 76 miles in previous models to 115 miles. Ford has managed to accomplish this improved range without raising the vehicle price.

To learn more on the EV range estimates of various models from Atlanta to various travel destinations, check out the map to the right. For estimated ranges from other large U.S. cities, check out the Plugless Power website.

EVs also provide a wealth of information to help you know when you need to charge. Like many of today’s gasoline vehicles, dashboard displays include information on your available range, but EVs also provide information on the power being used, the battery charge, and charging times. This gives you more than enough information to plan and get to your destination to charge.

Some car manufacturers, like Nissan, even have online calculators to help you estimate your driving range needs before you head out on a trip. Charging station maps are also offered in the cars and through various phone apps, like Plugshare, to help you plan your charging should you need additional range.

In addition to the increased range of BEVs, we are also seeing an increased roll-out of plug-in electric hybrid (PHEV) vehicles. PHEVs can help relieve range anxiety and attract new drivers to go electric. As highlighted by Evatran, PHEVs allow for “EV driving on most days, and efficient gas-electric hybrid driving the rest of the time.” One exciting new addition, which we’ve highlighted on social media is the Chrysler Pacifica Minivan – the first of its kind, with 33 miles of all-electric driving range. Check out an excellent review of it here.

Increased battery range and vehicle options bring more confidence to driving electric . The longer range batteries not only allow for increased long-distance travel range, but also offer assurance to consumers of meeting their daily driving needs, while having “excess” miles available for emergencies and other last minute activities.

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