If I had a penny for every time I heard someone complain about EVs and Range….whoa…I’d be a rich man! In fact, I’d be so rich that I might be able to afford a Lucid Air, the new range King!
It’ll hit 500 miles on the highway, which is about 800km…but would it hit 1,000km if you nursed it around town?…now there’s a thought.
Today we’re looking at range…and what elements really influence range. And finally, we consider who will win the race to 1,000km!
Let’s take a moment to look at some of the best and worst for range out there. And we’ll start off with some of the worst. The Dacia Spring comes to mind with its tiddly 27kWh battery and a real-world range of about 110 miles. But it’s so cheap that you’ll excuse it that! Not so much luck for the Mazda MX-30. Its usable 30kWh battery will yield a mere 110 miles in the real world, but it’s twice the price of the Dacia.
Even if you’re willing to spend a lot more money, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee you a good range. The all-electric Hummer has a battery that is actually heavier than some small cars! It’s huge… well over 200kWh! So does that give you mind-blowing range? No…we won’t know for sure until we see them in the real world, but maybe 300 miles?
Even the likes of the Mercedes EQC is a pretty inefficient vehicle. It may look good and be extremely comfortable. But…in real-world driving, it’ll struggle to get anything more than 250 miles.
But some EVs can do really well, and the boundaries of what we thought possible a mere 10 years ago are being pushed all the time!
Take a look at the Hyundai Kona with a usable 64kWh battery, which some owners have gotten close to 400 miles out of! Even cheaper is the MG5 Long Range, which will do 300 miles in good conditions from a 57kWh usable battery.
Of course, in the middle range is a car that we reviewed recently on this channel…the amazing Tesla Model 3 Long Range. Blake took it out on a 500-mile day trip and was blown away by its efficiency. The latest variant will comfortably get you 300 miles and even hit 400 miles in easy driving.
In years past we would have jumped straight to the Model S, but there’s a new range king in town now. The Lucid Air has a usable battery of just over 100kWh, and will easily do 400 miles on a charge. Recently, a journalist called Tom Moloughney in the US ran the Lucid at a consistent 70mph on the highway and got 500 miles on a single charge! Just nuts!
What affects range?
So, why is it that there’s such a variation in range? Why do some cars go farther on a similar size battery than others? We’re gonna look at some of the factors that impact range. And then we’re gonna go back to our original question!
Tires & wheels
Tyres and wheels are hugely important when it comes to range. Just jump onto the configurator for a car like the Tesla Model 3. As you change your choice of wheels, you can see that the range rating for the same car will go up and down. So in general you want the slightly smaller wheels.
The tyres you fit will also impact the range. In general, EVs will come with tyres that are specifically designed to maximise efficiency. The tread pattern and the weight, as well as the width and depth and material compound, are factors.
Aerodynamics play a crucial role in determining how much range you’ll get. And it’s even more of a factor at higher speeds when you’re really hitting the air with force. The slippery the car is through the air, the less power it uses, the more range it gets! Simples!
And we love to see manufacturers really focussing on this. Look, it’s easy to stuff a 200kWh battery into a brick of an SUV to get 400 miles range, but that’s not really what we want to see.
The kings of aerodynamics, at least on a production-car level has been the likes of the Hyundai Ioniq, which many of its owners nicknamed ‘The Wind Knife’. But going back a few decades, the EV1 set the benchmark for aerodynamics. Pity that the car met such an end! Recently, it is Mercedes that sit atop the table for aerodynamics. The sleek EQS boast a drag co-efficient of 0.2 …which is amazing by the way and beats everything else on the road, apart from the EQE which comes in at the same standard.
Batteries are far and away the biggest factors when it comes to range. Why is that? Well, the more energy you can store in the battery, the more range you will get out of the car. But as we’ve alluded to already, there’s more to it than that.
Not all batteries are created equal. Their design is constantly changing. Different cell sizes, different chemistries, and so on. Some are more energy-dense than others. But either way, batteries are heavy things. They take up a significant portion of the weight of the car. So the more batteries you stuff into a car, the heavier it is, and the less efficient it will be. There is a trade-off there, with manufacturers trying to balance the cost and efficiency with the benefit of the added range.
The Race to 1,000km
So are there cars coming down the line that will hit the 1,000km? In a sense, you could argue that they’re already here. Some people have altered existing cars by adding more batteries to the boot. About 2 years ago, Hyundai managed to get one of their Kona models to travel 1,026km on a single charge. But the problem is that these are exceptional circumstances and controlled hypermiling environments. What we’re asking about is a car that will travel 1,000km in real-world driving.
The Mercedes EQXX is setting itself up to be one of the first production cars to achieve this. The EQXX focuses on efficiency rather than stuffing batteries in. They are planning on an efficiency of 95%, which would be incredible. The design is extremely aerodynamic with a drag coefficient of 0.17, and the manner in which they’ve designed the battery means that it will be far smaller and lighter than previous EVs for the same amount of stored energy. They are talking about using a battery that will be no bigger than 100kWh to achieve this feat.
Tesla would have been an obvious choice for who will produce a car to do that distance. But Elon Musk recently said that they could have made a car that will do 600 miles on a charge, but that ‘it would have made the product worse.’
The Lightyear One is now available to pre-order, so it will be interesting to see how they fare when the car is in customers' hands. The car will likely travel over 500 miles on a charge in favourable conditions. And that is from a battery reported to be around 60kWh. Will we see them release a version with a bigger battery, say 80kWh, that may well hit the 1,000km mark?
Only time will tell if we see a production car that can do this. But in the meantime, we hope that we get a lot more chargers that deliver energy quicker. If we have the right chargers in the right places, then the whole conversation around the 1,000km range may well be moot.
We love hearing from people all over the world.
So let us know what you think in the comments.
Who can you see making the first EV that will go 1,000km on a charge in real-world driving?
Or maybe you think it’s completely unnecessary…and what we need is better chargers being much more widespread.
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