Sure, a Tesla Model S has loads of range, but most of us can't afford one.
The distance an EV can travel on a charge is arguably the most critical of its specifications. The Tesla Model S still leads all comers in this regard, with a maximum range of 335 miles, depending on the version. On the downside, it’s priced beyond the reach of most motorists at $79,000-$114,000.
*Editor's note: We've further updated this article and have rightfully placed the Tesla Model 3 Long Range, with its new price tag and increases range rating, in the #1 spot.
Fortunately for those looking to reduce their carbon footprints, but not bust their budgets, we ran the numbers and came up with a half-dozen EVs from the 2019 model year that deliver the longest operating range for the money. We’re featuring them here.
How We Ranked The Cars
We determined the ranking by dividing each model’s base MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price) by the number of miles it’s rated to run on a full battery charge. The leader in this regard is the Tesla Model 3 Long Range with an MSRP of $43,000 and 325 miles of range. Its score is an impressive 132.
The two EVs that deliver the least miles for the money are in a virtual tie. They are the $36,295 Honda Clarity Electric at 89 miles with a value rating of 414, and the much cheaper $23,900 Smart EQ ForTwo with a brief range of 58 miles and a value score of 412.
Where a given line offers separate versions having different battery capacities, we considered each of them separately. For example, the aforementioned Tesla Model S receives a value score of 263 for its $83,000 Long Range trim with 335 miles on a charge, but that rating swells to 361 with the 315-mile Performance version (with Ludicrous mode) at $114,000.
One development that clouds the water with regard to our computations is that fact that Teslas are already being sold subject to a watered-down version of the $7,500 federal tax credit granted to EV buyers. The credit is scheduled to phase out during the calendar year after an automaker sells 200,000 plug-in models, which Tesla accomplished last year.
Tesla’s credits are set at $3,750 per vehicle delivered through the end of June, and will drop to $1,875 for the remainder of 2019. Recent price cuts made to Tesla models help make up the difference. Meanwhile, credits for the Chevrolet Bolt EV will begin to phase out on April 1.
Your Mileage May Vary
Of course, depending on where and how you drive, you could wind up getting more or fewer miles on a charge no matter which EV you ultimately choose. For starters, an EV’s range tends to suffer when subjected to extreme temperatures. This is both because of the adverse effects of cold or hot weather on a battery’s charge, and the drain caused by operating the car’s climate control. What’s more, lead-footed acceleration and maintaining higher speeds will tend to drain the battery at a quicker-than-average rate.
Want A Used EV Instead?
And be aware that you can get even more bang for the proverbial buck by choosing a used electric vehicle. Check out the extensive database of pre-owned EVs for sale here on MyEV.com. And if you’re looking to sell an EV, there’s no better place to market a used EV, with 100 percent free listings.
6. NISSAN LEAF
The base version of the current generation Nissan Leaf can operate for 150 miles on a charge at a starting MSRP of $29,990. That’s good for a cost-to-range value score of 199.
5. NISSAN LEAF PLUS
Coming at midyear 2019, the longer-range Nissan Leaf Plus is estimated to run for 226 miles on a full charge. With an estimated MSRP at around $37,000, it gets a value score of 164.
4. CHEVROLET BOLT EV
With an average estimated operating range at a generous 238 miles on a charge, and an MSRP at a reasonable $36,620, the Chevrolet Bolt EV musters an impressive value score of 153.
3. KIA NIRO ELECTRIC
New for 2019, the Kia Niro Electric is rated to run for 239 miles on a charge, and while its MSRP was not yet set as of this writing, at an estimated base price of $36,600 it gets a value score of 153
2. HYUNDAI KONA ELECTRIC
Topping our list of models that deliver the most miles for the money is the Hyundai Kona Electric with an operating range estimated at 258 miles and a base MSRP of $36,450. It receives a cost-to-range value score of 141.
1. TESLA MODEL 3
Though the Model S and Model X are too pricey to make this list, despite their impressive ranges, the Tesla Model 3 delivers the line’s best value score at 132 in its Long Range version that allows 325 miles on a charge with an MSRP at $43,000. The long-awaited $35,000 base Model 3 with a 220-mile range comes close with a score of 159.