Last Updated on December 6, 2023
Electric cars are becoming increasingly popular, but many potential buyers are concerned about how far an electric car can go on a single charge.
According to Gridserve, the average consumer electric car in 2023 can travel around 219 miles on a single charge, a significant increase from previous years. High-end models like the Mercedes EQS boast ranges up to 453 miles.
It’s true, the availability of charging stations is still somewhat limited. But as reported by the International Energy Agency, by the end of 2022, there were over 2.7 million public charging points worldwide, with a significant increase in new installations.
Truth be told, our research shows that while battery technology and availability of charging stations has improved – range anxiety is still a thing for many. And it’s an honest concern, as there are factors that will affect real-world driving range.
Let’s dive into the causes for range anxiety, and answer the question: how far can an electric car go on one charge.
Conditions That Affect How Far Can An Electric Car Go On One Charge
There are several conditions that affect how far an electric car can travel on a single charge. Regardless of which brand EV you drive.
Things like the weather, vehicle size, the way the car is driven, how much weight the car is carrying. Or if the heat or A/C is running. All these factors play a big role in how far can an electric car can go on a single charge.
Let’s review each.
Cold Weather Below 40 Degrees Fahrenheit and EV Range
Cold weather conditions undoubtedly affects the range of electric vehicles. When temperatures drop below 40°F, battery efficiency can significantly decrease. Car manufacturers are making improvements to minimize the effects on battery chemistry from extreme temperatures.
According to a study by Recurrent, battery performance in various EV models could drop between 3% and 32% in freezing conditions compared to optimal conditions around 70°F.
The primary reason for this drain, as explained by Venkat Srinivasan of the Argonne Collaborative Center for Energy Storage Science, is the use of the car’s heating system.
Unlike gasoline cars, which use engine-generated heat, electric cars rely solely on battery power for cabin heating. Furthermore, cooler temperatures slow down the chemical and physical reactions in batteries, affecting their overall performance.
Anna Stefanopoulou, from the University of Michigan’s Energy Institute, notes that batteries, much like humans, prefer temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Additionally, the Idaho National Laboratory has reported that EV batteries can take up to three times as long to charge in cold temperatures.
As the temperature rises, the range efficiency of EVs improves. However, living in areas with frequent winter temperatures below 40°F requires careful management of battery life and charging habits.
Hot Weather Above 95 Degrees Fahrenheit and Its Impact on EVs
High temperatures can significantly affect the range of electric cars. Forbes reports that at 95 degrees, electric cars can lose an average of 17% of their effective range. A figure that can increase to as much as 31% if the ambient temperature reaches 100 degrees.
The use of air conditioning in hot weather plays a significant role in battery drain, thus reducing the driving range. This is because electric vehicles rely on battery power for cooling the cabin, similar to how they rely on it for heating in cold weather.
Experts suggest using a slower charger and maintaining the battery charge at a maximum of 80% in extreme heat. A full charge may cause undue stress on the battery and lead to rapid degradation.
According to PCmag.com, severe heat can even lead to catastrophic outcomes for lithium-ion batteries, potentially causing the battery’s case to crack or, in extreme cases, explode.
Interestingly, a Consumer Reports test of four electric cars (Ford Mustang Mach-E, Hyundai Ioniq 5, Tesla Model Y, and Volkswagen ID.4) under the same conditions showed varied results.
While the official EPA range of these vehicles was drastically reduced in cold weather, the Mach-E and VW ID.4 actually experienced an increase in miles of range by 5 and 16 miles in warm weather.
The Hyundai’s range dropped by only two miles. The Tesla Model S range took a 15% hit, dropping from 326 to 274 miles in warm weather driving. However, still more than enough range for most daily commutes.
Road terrain significantly impacts the range of electric vehicles. Driving up steep hills requires more power than driving on flat roads. This increased energy requirement means that vehicles use more battery power to ascend inclines, leading to a quicker reduction in available range.
Similarly, uneven terrains like dirt or gravel roads can also decrease range due to the additional energy required by the electric motor to navigate these surfaces.
Use of Electronics
Electronic accessories in electric vehicles, such as audio systems and built-in navigation, do draw power and contribute to battery drain.
While each individual system may not create a significant drain on its own, collectively, they can impact the range of an EV. This especially true when combined with factors like weather and terrain.
The speed at which an electric vehicle is driven has a notable effect on its range. At higher speeds, such as on highways, electric cars can experience a significant decrease in range.
For example, driving at 75 miles per hour can result in a 15% loss of range compared to lower speeds. This is partly due to the increased energy required to overcome air resistance at higher speeds.
Aggressive driving habits, including rapid acceleration and hard braking, can drain the electric car battery more quickly. Smooth, consistent driving and gentle acceleration are more energy-efficient and can help conserve battery power, extending the vehicle’s range.
This driving approach is particularly beneficial for maximizing driving long distances. And ensures maximum range for ev drivers.
The weight of the vehicle, including passengers and cargo, affects its efficiency. Heavier loads require more energy to move, thus consuming more battery power. This is particularly true for long trips across the country.
While some of the energy expended can be recaptured through regenerative braking systems, carrying heavy loads, especially on long road trips, can significantly impact the number of miles a EV can travel.
This is also true for gasoline and diesel cars, too.
So, there you have it. Your complete guide to how far an electric car can travel on a single charge. As you can see, the distance an EV can travel is greatly affected by several factors.
And while range anxiety is still a concern for many drivers, rest assured that the U.S. government has committed roughly $135 billion toward electric vehicle development.
In fact, by 2030 the U.S. government has a goal of creating a national network of about 500,000 EV public charging stations all across Americas highways.
If that goal of creating a vast network of charging stations can be achieved, the anxiety of long-distance travel in an electric car will surely become a thing of the past.
Have you driven your electric car further than you expected? Please share your story in the comments below.