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Range of electric vehicles

Last updated 11/15/2018

What is the electric car with the best range? Different models of electric vehicles claim different driving ranges, or how far one full battery charge will get you (miles per charge). Knowing an electric vehicle’s range is important for planning purposes. If a vehicle has a range that’s shorter than the distance you might drive on average, that car may not be the correct choice for your lifestyle.

To get an idea of the types of ranges you might see when shopping for an electric vehicle, we will compare ranges of some of the top EV options: the Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Bolt, and two Tesla vehicles (Model S and Model X). For sake of comparison, each vehicle being considered is the basic, entry-level version of that vehicle model. Many manufacturers offer upgraded options that have a longer range.

Range of popular electric cars

Electric car model (base level) Range (miles per charge)
Nissan Leaf 107 miles
Chevrolet Bolt 238 miles
Tesla Model S 265 miles
Tesla Model X 295 miles

Just as conventional combustion engine cars have different gas tank sizes and miles-per-gallon ratings (leading to differing full-tank ranges), EVs vary widely on the distance they can travel on a fully charged battery. Of the above vehicles, the Tesla Model X has the best range rating, meaning it will travel the farthest on one battery’s worth of charge. The Bolt and the Model S have slightly lower ranges, and the Leaf comes in with less than half the range of any other vehicle.

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Choosing the electric vehicle with the appropriate range for your needs

Electric cars that have a higher range tend to be more expensive, so it’s important to consider your driving habits when shopping. If you’re planning on making long commutes, a car like the Nissan Leaf with a relatively low driving range may not be the best choice. Instead, you might want to look into higher range vehicles like the Chevy Bolt or either Tesla model. Conversely, if you have a quicker commute to work or are looking for a car to run errands around town, a vehicle like the Leaf may be a more economical and logical purchase – it has a lower price tag and more modest range rating, while EVs with a higher range may be unnecessary.

Additionally, it is always important to consider EV charging station [link to EV charging] locations when looking into buying an electric car. Charging stations can be a limiting factor on where you take your vehicle. If you live in an area with abundant charging stations, a lower range car would make for a smart purchase, as the range of the battery would be less of a limitation. For those who don’t live in an area with charging stations, your options are more limited, as you need significantly more driving range to survive without constantly being able to recharge.

Maximizing your EV range

How can you get the most travel distance out of your electric vehicle? Like traditional cars, driving style and habits can affect how long you can last before refueling. Here are several recommendations for getting the most out of your vehicle’s battery, as suggested by the U.S. Department of Energy. These tips will help to improve both range and MPGe.

Use accessories wisely. Using features of a car like air conditioning and media systems impacts EV range greatly. Instead of using the cabin heater, try using seat warmers to maximize your range.

Use the economy mode. Electric cars commonly come with an “economy mode”, which will automatically try and save battery life by reducing energy use around the vehicle.

Plan ahead. If you need to climate control your car, consider pre-heating or pre-cooling while it is still plugged in to avoid excess power usage on the road.

Anticipate braking and avoid hard braking. Hard braking circumvents the EV’s regenerative braking system, and wastes energy. By braking more gradually, you charge your battery on the go.

Follow the speed limit. Vehicle efficiency is known to decrease rapidly above 50 miles per hour, reducing the range you can travel.

Aside from the above, you can also improve your car’s range by removing excess weight and keeping your tires inflated properly. These practices can help you to maximize your electric vehicle range, saving you money and minimizing greenhouse gas emissions.

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