We are accustomed to electric car range increases basically every year - both in terms of maximum for high-end models, as well as the median (the middle value across the market), but 2021 has not brought much progress in this matter.
According to the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Vehicle Technologies Office, the maximum EPA range ratings for the 2021 model year all-electric cars in the U.S. increased only slightly, from 402 miles (647 km) to 405 miles (652 km), which is mostly associated with an updated Tesla Model S at the time.
However, more significant is that the median value decreased to 234 miles (377 km), which is almost 10% less than in 2020 (259 miles) and over 2% less than in 2019 (239 miles).
Is it wrong to see a decrease like that? Well, no. It's just a statistic and can be easily explained by the growing number of entry-level and mid-level all-electric models on the market, which moves the "center of gravity" slightly lower.
Interesting will be the 2022 model year lineup, which, thanks to the Lucid Air, brings the maximum range value up to 520 miles (837 km).
Our preliminary calculations for 2022 models, for which data is available, indicate that there is also a chance to increase the median back above 250 miles.
We guess that with the technological improvement of BEVs and maturing of the market, the median might stabilize somewhere between 250-350 miles. The reason for that is simple - the better the fast charging infrastructure is, the less important it will be to increase the range of average models, especially since batteries are cost-intensive items.
The chart reveals also how low (relatively) the median EPA range was in 2011-2015 model year cars - below 100 miles. That was the time when the Teslas stood out the most.
"Note: Range is based on Environmental Protection Agency estimates.
Source: U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Fueleconomy.gov website, accessed November 4, 2021."