At the beginning of the 20th century, about one-third of all cars on the road were electric. At that time, EVs were quieter, smoother, and more environmentally-friendly than their internal combustion counterparts. That’s still true today. So why did the electric vehicle fall out of favor? The problem that kept electric vehicles from mainstream adoption 100 years ago is still a factor today. Compared to gas-powered cars, EVs have a shorter driving range and take longer to refuel (or recharge the battery, as the case may be).
How far can electric cars go on one charge? Do EVs have enough range for a typical daily commute? What about long road trips? To answer those questions, consider: when the Tesla Roadster was introduced in 2008, it was able to travel an 244 miles per battery charge. But it was a luxury, two-seater sports car. These days, a wide range of practical and affordable battery-powered vehicles provide about the same range. Nissan entered the mainstream auto market with its Nissan Leaf in late 2010. It only offered 84 miles of range at that time. Nonetheless, it quickly became the world's best-selling electric car. A decade later, the Leaf now offers up to 226 miles on a battery charge.) Over the past decade, the electric vehicle market has grown to more than 50 different cars. The best electric cars all get more than 200 miles on a charge.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) estimates that the average American drives 40 miles per day. The 200-plus miles per battery charge offered by many of today’s electric cars provides all the driving range that commuters need. Actually, they provide five times the required distance.
Here are a few comparisons of popular electric vehicles that offer more than 200 miles per charge:
• Audi E-Tron – 204 miles
• Nissan Leaf Plus – 226 miles
• Jaguar I-Pace – 234 miles
• Chevrolet Bolt – 238 miles
• Kia Niro EV – 239 miles
• Hyundai Kona EV – 258 miles
• Tesla Model X – 305 miles
• Tesla Model 3 Long Range – 322 miles
• Tesla Model S – 391 miles
The vehicles listed above are only the beginning. How far can you expect to go in an EV in the immediate future? Here are some of the top electric vehicles coming in the next year or two. Most of these are estimates:
• Ford Mach E – Up to 300 miles per charge
• Volvo Polestar 2 – 300 miles per charge
• Volkswagen ID.4 – 220 miles per charge
• Mercedes EQC – 220 miles per charge
• BMW iX3 – 200 miles per charge
• Volvo XC40 Electric – 200 miles per charge
General Motors and Volkswagen, among others, plan dozens of affordable electric vehicles in the next few years.
And if you think the EV revolution is all about Tesla, think again. The Porsche Taycan will be pushing the futuristic envelope in all the right directions. Here’s what you can expect with the 2019-2020 rollout. Tesla is not alone in pushing the envelope on next-generation battery technologies. GM is basing its new line of EVs on its Ultium battery system, which can use an 800-volt. Porsche, Volkswagen’s luxury brand, also takes an 800-volt approach. As a result, the Porsche Taycan has these benefits: 66 pounds less wiring, charging from 5% to 80% in about 22 minutes and less heat allows for repeated bursts of acceleration.
The amount of energy stored in an EV battery pack is measured in kilowatt-hours. An electric car’s efficiency is based on the number of miles that the car goes on a single kilowatt-hour (kWh). An efficient EV can go about four miles per kilowatt-hour. Sometimes that is indicated by how many kWh are used to go a single mile.
Consumers should not be concerned about the longevity of an EV battery. Electric-vehicle batteries are fundamentally different from device batteries. An EV battery is designed to last the entire lifetime of the vehicle. In May 2020, battery experts at General Motors said they were “almost there” on new battery chemistry to make EV cells last 1 million miles. Weeks later, Tesla was reported to be working on new battery chemistry also to produce an EV battery cell able to go 1 million miles. Tesla said that its new Roadster, planned for the 2021 model year, will be able to run for as much as 620 miles on a single charge.
Given the enhanced capability of the latest EV batteries, EV drivers can go on long-distance road trips. The future for electric vehicles is very bright indeed. Advances in battery technology will leave no question about the ability for electric cars to serve drivers’ needs: no matter how far they want to go.