While it’s true that the first battery-electric vehicles struggled to go much more than 100 miles without a recharge, driving ranges have improved dramatically in recent years. Today, many EVs can travel nearly as far between fill-ups as your average gasoline-powered vehicle.
PENCILING IT OUT
To understand the concept of range more fully, it helps to know a few terms. Just as it does with gasoline-powered models, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the energy efficiency of EVs. Except in this case, that number is expressed as miles per gallon of gasoline-equivalent (MPGe).
GOING THE DISTANCE
Several factors affect the range of EVs. Here are four aspects to consider when it comes to getting the most miles out of a freshly charged battery.
A main selling point of EVs is their performance. Keep in mind, though, that overindulging in that zippy acceleration comes at a cost: reduced overall range. The same applies to running at freeway speeds; counterintuitively, most EVs are more efficient in surface-street traffic than on the highway.
EVs are subject to the same laws of physics as their traditional counterparts, of course. That means a car’s efficiency can also be dramatically affected by aerodynamics. So, ditch the roof racks and cargo boxes if you’re not using them. Even the shape of the wheels affects MPGe, so it’s best to stick with the factory-installed version.
Jettisoning extra weight is another smart idea. If you’re towing a pair of personal watercraft or chauffeuring half the school football team’s offensive line, expect your total range to suffer.
When outside temperatures reach extremes, batteries don’t perform as well. Running the air conditioning or heater also affects range. The good news is that most EVs have a preconditioning mode, which allows you to cool or warm the cabin while the car is still plugged in, minimizing these issues.