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How Far Can Electric Cars Go? Your Guide To EV Range

If you’re considering making the switch to an electric car then there’s a phrase you may have come across more than any other as you do your research: ‘range anxiety’.

It’s been a part of the electric vehicle dictionary for as long as EVs have been sold but, finally, the words that have probably cast more doubt into the minds of potential owners than any others are soon to be destined for the automotive scrapheap.

Why? Because the fear that a modern electric car doesn’t offer you the range you need is increasingly an outdated concern that simply doesn’t apply to the latest EVs on the market.

So What Do You Need To Know About Range Anxiety?

The good news is it’s increasingly a phrase that belongs in the past. There’s no doubt that early electric models lacked the sort of range that people had become accustomed to from a car with a combustion engine.

The range of a first-generation Nissan Leaf, which went on sale in 2010, was an anxiety-inducing 73 miles. Not great on paper and even less so in real life, when you consider that the charging infrastructure in 2010 was non-existent compared to what we have now.

Fast forward a decade and the latest-gen Nissan Leaf e+ give you up to 239 miles of range from its 62kWh battery. And if you plug it into a 50kW rapid charger at a charging station, you can boost your charge in minutes rather than hours.

The simple fact is, as technology continues to improve and the charging network grows and grows, electric cars will increasingly offer us the sort of range comparable to even the most fuel efficient diesels.

Not only that - but charging costs are a fraction of the price of fuel.

There Are So Many New EVs To Suit Your Needs

Of course, just as with conventional cars, the range and fuel efficiency of electric vehicles will still depend on their spec, size and performance. So it pays to get a good understanding of your daily driving habits to find the car that’s perfect for you.

Remember that the average car journey in the UK is little more than 8 miles, and that figure has remained relatively unchanged for many years. It’s clear, then, that even the shortest-range electric cars are more than capable of fitting in with most of our lifestyles, particularly if you have access to daily charging at home or work.

The ability to top up your car with charge whenever or wherever you park means that the fear of running out of juice is really no more relevant than the fear of running out of petrol. If course it CAN happen, but when is the last time it DID?

Take a look at our latest electric car leasing deals.

What’s A Good Range For An Electric Car?

If you’re the sort of driver who still likes to know they’ve got plenty of range in reserve then you will be looking to find cars that offer in excess of 200+ miles on a single charge. The good news is that there are plenty of machines that fit the bill.

The biggest single factor in the range of your car will be the size of the batteries that hold its electric charge. It’s like the difference between having a 50 and 80-litre fuel tank. You’re going to go further the more litres you can hold. And the same is true of the number of kilowatts of energy you can store in your EV.

But… more range means bigger batteries which might well mean you’ll be paying a price premium for the privilege. And remember, too, that bigger batteries equate to a longer overall charge time, so it’s worth working out if you really will use all that range or whether it’s a luxury you might never actually enjoy…

What Electric Car Has The Longest Range?

There is now a big selection of electric cars on the market with range in excess of 250 miles. And that selection is growing almost by the week.

At the top of the tree sits the company that has done more than any other to help the world convert to electric: Tesla.

Still the most famous ‘EV-only’ carmaker by a country mile, Tesla has long set the standard for cutting-edge battery and charging technology.

The latest spec Model S offers a hugely impressive 398 miles of range from its 98kWh powerpack.

Reassuringly long range can also be found in a range of new models from more established car industry giants like Volkswagen, Porsche, Ford, Jaguar and Kia to name just a few.

So whether you’re looking for a long-range limo, a more familiar family hatchback or something with real sporting credentials, Vanarama can sort it for you.

The Electric Cars With The Longest Range*

*available from Vanarama

Take a look at our guide to the longest range SUVs, Saloons, Hatchbacks and Superminis.

How To Maximise The Range Of Your Electric Car

Getting the most mileage out of a single charge isn’t simply down to how fast you drive – although high speeds are the single biggest factor in lowering your range.

With modern cars using electricity to power their on-board entertainment systems, climate control and more, there are a host of small tips and tricks you can use to extend the distance you can travel.

Vanarama’s Six Top Tips For Going Further

1.     Keep an eye on your speed The faster you travel the more you will draw on your batteries.

2.     No more red light drag races! Heavy acceleration consumes lots of power to push your car forward. So go easy on the throttle to save on power.

3.     Plan your route If you’ve got the option of choosing more than one route for a journey then opting to use slower roads or less hilly climbs will mean less work for your car.

4.      Make your own electricity on the move If your car comes with a regenerative braking function make sure it is turned on and you use it to the max. By leaving enough space to lift and slow before you have to brake, you’ll activate the ‘regen’ and add miles to your journey.

5.     Turn down the climate control If it’s safe to do so, using less heating or air-conditioning will reduce your electricity usage, particularly when you’re stationary or in traffic.

6.     Put your car on a diet If you’re the kind of person that leaves three bags of soil or half the contents of your workshop in the boot of your car then it’s time to get tidying. Carrying excess weight wastes fuel whatever kind of car you’re driving. So throw it back in the shed and give your car the light touch and a few more miles per charge.

Does Weather Affect Electric Car Range?

You might not know it but the outside temperature has an effect on how a car’s batteries can both charge and deploy the energy they hold.

If the temperature drops near to freezing or hits a real heat wave (above about 35 degrees Celsius) then the performance of the batteries can be affected and your range can drop with it. Studies show that sub-zero temperatures will reduce range by 12% on average.

Why? Because cooler temperatures slow down the chemical reactions needed to release electrical energy inside the batteries. This can lead to less output from your battery and hence less range.

However, modern cars are well equipped to deal with temperature variations thanks to onboard software that can monitor how your car is charging and even heat the batteries to improve their charging time.

So it’s just as likely that a range drop-off during cold weather is down to you turning the heater up!

There are, however, tips to running a car in cold weather that can help you go further.

5 Ways To Improve Electric Car Range In Cold Weather:

1. If you’ve got a garage use it! Parking in a covered area to charge means it’s easier to keep the batteries in their sweet spot.

2.     Set your charging period to end when you’re ready to leave. The heat from charging helps to pre-warm the battery pack which means you set off with a warm and happy car that is less likely to lose range.

3.     Pre-heat your car’s interior half an hour before setting off. Many EVs allow you to turn on the climate control from your smartphone. That means you can fire up the heating while the car is still plugged in to the mains. That means clear windscreens, a lovely warm cabin and no loss of range when you head off…

4.     Switch to ECO mode. If your car has an ECO mode – and most new EVs will – then remembering to use it when the temperature drops outside is one simple way to eke more miles out of a charge. In ECO mode cars will commonly limit top speeds, reduce heater output and turn up regen braking if they have it.

5.     Keep your tyres well pumped up Just like in a normal car, poorly inflated tyres mean more friction on the road and less efficient travel.

What Happens If You Run Out Of Battery In An Electric Car?

If the very worst happens and you literally drive your EV until the battery is flat, what do you do next?

Well first of all, we REALLY don’t recommend you do it. And not just because no one enjoys sitting at the side of the road waiting for the breakdown truck.

Just like on your mobile phone, it’s not good for car batteries to be discharged to empty or ‘deep discharging’ as it is known. If you do it too often, then you can begin to damage the cells and permanently reduce their performance.

That’s why manufacturers advise that you always try and charge when your battery is down to about 10-20% – think of it like the orange light coming on your petrol gauge… Time for a top up.

Find out where you can charge an electric car across the UK.

Low Power Modes Kick In

Most new EVs will already have given you a polite nudge that it’s time to charge well before you get too low and will often be able to point you to the nearest network charger using the onboard satellite navigation.

But if, despite all offers of help, the worst case happens and you hit 0% on your gauge then modern EVs will eventually switch into low power modes that allow you to drive safely but slowly to a halt.

Then it’s time to call for roadside assistance and the good news here is that many electric cars come with free roadside assistance that will include a tow truck to take you safely to the nearest charging point.

It’s not something we recommend you try and use but it’s there if you need it! That said, it’s about as likely these days as running out of petrol or diesel.

Above All, Relax And Enjoy The Ride!

The reality is, electric car range anxiety is easily overcome with a modern EV and by applying the really simple tips we’ve given you to help get even better mileage from your new machine.

Sure, you’ll always be able to find some know-it-all who says electric cars won’t work in the cold. If you do, just ask them why Norway has bought more EVs per head than any other country on the planet? If electric cars work in Scandinavia, they are going to work just fine in Britain too.

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