Tested: Real-World Range Of 8 Of Europe’s Most Popular Electric Cars

2 weeks ago by Mark Kane 43

Opel Ampera-e

German AutoBild tested in December eight of Europe’s most popular electric cars (but didn’t include the Nissan LEAF, Tesla and BMW i3) in cold weather to determine their real-world range and efficiency.


Hyundai IONIQ Electric Marina Blue

Each car was fully charged and pre-heated. With heating set for 21 degrees C (70 degrees F) and the driver’s heated seat on for 20-minutes (if available), the cars drove a 143 km route.

It turns out that efficiency highly varies between the models, so battery capacity alone won’t provide a solid indication of cold weather range.

The Hyundai IONIQ Electric is the most efficient model among the eight – needs only 14.6 kWh/100 km. Range was 192 km (119 miles) using 28 kWh of battery. That’s just a few miles below the EPA result.

The Renault ZOE and new Volkswagen e-Golf were able to achieve decent results too – 16.8 kWh/100km and 17.2 kWh/100km, respectively.

Apart from big Nissan e-NV200 Evalia, the worst results came from the Volkswagen e-up! and Opel Ampera-e. The e-up! with 18.7 kWh and 23.8 kWh/100km didn’t even complete the route.

The Opel Ampera-e (60 kWh) with the biggest battery was able to drive just 11% further than  the Renault ZOE (41 kWh). Efficiency in cold weather for the Ampera-E was just 22.0 kWh/100 km! Range of 273 km or 170 miles is certainly far below expectations.

Model Battery kWh
Range km
Efficiency kWh/100 km
Hyundai IONIQ Electric 28 192 14.6
Renault ZOE 41 244 16.8
Volkswagen e-Golf 35.8 208 17.2
Kia Soul EV 30 167 18.0
Smart ForTwo Electric Drive 17.6 84 21.0
Opel Ampera-e 60 273 22.0
Volkswagen e-up! 18.7 79 23.7
Nissan e-NV200 Evalia 24 101 23.8

Source: AutoBild via Green Car Reports

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43 responses to "Tested: Real-World Range Of 8 Of Europe’s Most Popular Electric Cars"

  1. reader says:

    Without Leaf included this test is next to useless. Good to see Ioniq leading the pack still though

  2. Astros says:

    How cold was it outside? How fast were they driving? And, how much of the range hit was just from running the heater?

    1. Marcus Rönningås says:

      Our Ioniq does just above 1,5 kWh/100 km now when it is winter. We have had a rather normal winter to our region (Sundsvall in Sweden) with temp between -5 to -20. During summer we drove it around 1,3 kWh/100 km.

  3. John Norris says:

    For those who like miles/kWh:

    Hyundai IONIQ Elec..4.3
    Renault ZOE………3.7
    Volkswagen e-Golf…3.6
    Kia Soul EV………3.5
    Smart ForTwo ED…..3.0
    Opel Ampera-e…….2.8
    Volkswagen e-up!….2.6
    Nissan e-NV200 Ev…2.6

    1. Miggy says:

      Using the “Efficiency Measure of kWh/100 km” is a great system, one that should be the Worldwide Standard.

      1. Tim Kulogo says:

        It’s backwards. You don’t want the smaller number to be better. That’s confusing. It’s miles per gallon or kilometers per liter not gallons per 100 miles or liters per 100 kilometers. Why should electric efficiency be different?

        1. wavelet says:

          While I agree with you that it’s makes more sense for larger numbers to indicate better results, that isn’t actually the metrics are set up.
          In virtually the entire world outside the US, the official ICE fuel consumption measure is liters per 100km.

        2. Ron says:

          Sticking with ICE terminology, I think the methods have different roles.
          MPG is great for determining range after the vehicle has been purchased. I have a 15 gallon tank which is half full. I get 31 mpg. If I spend all my money shopping, Can I make it 200 miles to get home without hitchhiking?
          The gallons/100 miles is great at pointing out the effect of purchasing an inefficient vehicle. Looking at 20 mpg vs 50 mpg doesn’t immediately convey cost of ownership as well as 5 gal/100 miles vs 2 gal/100 miles. The latter makes it easy to determine that driving 10,000 miles/year will cost 300 gallons more.

        3. przemo_li says:

          kWh/100km is easily converted into money’s. That’s 8zł worth of a bill. 8l/100km car is 36zł of a bill.

          Once I counted hire much would we pay for shared ride to the mountains after talking some jokes about electric cars. Mood got instantly sober 🙂

          Difference is just too big.

          Let’s keep it as kWh/100km.

        4. Dan says:

          There is no forward/backwards; it’s just not what you are used to. In the metric world ICE car milage is liters/100km—-the same idea.

    2. Bill Howland says:

      John Norris that is interesting, but it puts the Ampera-E in an exceedingly unfair bad light. Your ‘ 2.8 ‘ miles per kwh is much below the ‘default’ rating of the BOLT ev, which ‘starts’ at ‘ 3.9 ‘ whenever you reset the trip odometer. Seeing as you can usually get a true 60 kwh out of the fully charged battery pack, that works out to 234 miles, which is doubly checked by the 238 mile EPA rating (works out to 3.966666 or roughly 4.0).

      That would put it just behind the Hyundai, which I thought the BOLT ev always was anyway.

      Especially since in the Spring or Fall I can easily get 6 miles/kwh in city driving without really trying. People who really try have occasionally reported up to 8 miles/kwh.

      1. John Norris says:

        Bill, they’re not my numbers, they are AutoBild’s results for their cold weather test. I just translated them into a format I like…

  4. theflew says:

    It’s the big difference the Bolt/Ampere – conditions it’s batteries by heating them in cold weather whereas the Zoe doesn’t. Something you might notice if you tried to charge the cars.

  5. Sladjo says:

    AUTO BILD is the Germans automakers lobby paper… I do not expect objective results if it’s not of German origin…

    1. MM says:

      I find the British “CAR’ magazine has more Jaguar than I can read about also.

    2. IQ130 says:

      I prefer the name “VAG BILD”, as the main sponsor is the Volkswagen Auto Group.

    3. Brave Lil' Toaster says:

      And yet, the VW didn’t make the top spot somehow.

  6. HVACman says:

    A couple of key items not mentioned in the IEVS article:

    The outside air temperature during this test was 41 deg. F.

    The top 4 EVs for efficiency in kWh/100 km all have heat pump HVAC. The bottom 4 all have electric resistance. Therefore proving again why heat pumps are important in cold-weather-based EVs.

    I think this road test was already covered earlier, but I’m not finding the article.

    1. Counterpoint says:

      41 degrees Farenheit is not cold weather. For cold weather testing, the temperature needs to be at least below freezing. And if you’re really trying to get a good perspective for coldest weather driving, run the tests at 0 degrees Farenheit.

      1. Tim Kulogo says:

        Exactly. I was driving my Leaf to work at -25°C yesterday, and I still need to get to work. More range during nice weather doesn’t mean I can work further from home.

      2. James says:

        Exactly. Heater is not mandatory at 41 Fahrenheit. and when it’s really cold, heatpump won’t work

        1. bro1999 says:

          41 degrees for a heat pump is an ideal temp. I’d like the tests to be done again in 10F temps.

    2. wavelet says:

      “Therefore proving again why heat pumps are important in cold-weather-based EVs. ”
      At least until batteries are cheap/light enough that we have range similar to today’s ICE cars (which might not happen for a long time), all BEVs should adopt heat pumps. A supplemental resistive heater may be needed for extreme cold, but the heating elements are cheap & light enough that that shouldn’t be an issue.

  7. Boo says:

    So the total range is calculated based on battery capacity … ignoring the fact that some manufacturers advertise usable energy while others advertise total capacity.

    1. Djoni says:

      And this is a problem that should be fixed easily.

    2. Ken says:

      +1 THIS is so important! I can’t believe how many media sources miss this

  8. Richard says:

    The range for the Opel must be in error, with a bolt in québec by -20 i can do 310Km and at 0 340Km in summer over 400Km

    1. WadeTyhon says:

      I get far better range than this in 40 degree weather. In fact right now it is 42 in Dallas (it was in the 30s this morning). I haven’t charged since Saturday night. I currently have 3/4 of my battery remaining and 170 miles of range.

      My defroster is only set to 60 though, not 70. And my speeds are between 45 – 55 miles per hour every day. So it is not an exact comparison.

      1. Bolt driver says:

        Now that it has been cold for a while, I have been getting between 2 and 3 miles per kWh on my Bolt. So in line with what they found. On a recent trip home from the airport I had to charge due to only getting about 2m/kwh and found the car would only charge at 15kw due to the cold soak.
        Lithium batteries really suffer in the cold in both range and charging capacity.

    2. R2 says:

      Fuel economy depends on driving style and speed a lot.
      Test route details:
      highways – 43 km (27 miles) – speed up to 130 kmph (81 mph)
      extra urban – 83 km (52 miles) – 90 kmph (56 mph)
      urban – 18 km (11 miles) – 50 kmph (31 mph)

      Autobild writers are usually not trying to achieve best fuel economy but more likely to stay on speed limit whenever possible.

      * there were few parts of highway with spped limited to 100 or 80 kmph and some parts of extra-urban roads limited to 70 kmph (62, 50 and 44 mph)

  9. Pete says:

    Nissan env200 is 21 kWh usable, E-Golf 33 kWh usable so the miles/kWh data are wrong.

  10. mhpr262 says:

    244 km for the ZOE, that is more than I expected. My old gas car is getting a bit long in the tooth, maybe I ought to take a look at a ZOE lease …

  11. Brian says:

    Behold the power of a heat pump.

    Now try this test again in 6 months, and be amazed at how far the Ampera-e pulls ahead of the rest of the fleet.

    1. bro1999 says:

      Or at 0F and watch the other cars come back down to the Bolt’s mile/kWh level…or worse.

  12. wavelet says:

    I’m actually surprised at how well the Soul EV did: It’s a conversion, not a from-scratch design, an older design at that, and it has a rather boxy, non-aerodynamic shape.

  13. Amperaguy says:

    Huyndai really did a great job with Ioniq. Affordable, nice looks, leading efficiency both in optimal and cold conditions. All they need is bigger battery.

    1. p-run says:

      And not available. Great job Hyundai!

  14. Logan says:

    Let’s ask another pertinent question. How comfortable was the driver with the HVAC set at 70 degrees? I own a 2015 Leaf SV with the heat pump and a 2017 Bolt EV. I can tell you that the Bolt heater is much more powerful than the Leaf. The Leaf is very stingy in doling out the heat while the Bolt will make you sweat if you’re not careful. I have to set the HVAC to a much higher temperature in the Leaf to achieve the same level of comfort I get in the Bolt. I’m not sure we are comparing apples to apples on these cars when the HVAC is set to 70.

  15. Frank says:

    It would be usefull to compare the time you need for a 1000km ride incl. charging. I think the ioniq could be the winner because of his 70kW charging ability.

  16. Just_Chris says:

    People are often rude about the small size of the Zoe, long 0-60 time and the light weight materials in the cabin but I think this test shows why those things are done. I haven’t driven either the bolt or Zoe for any length of time but I can imagine the bolt will be bigger, heavier, accelerates faster, has a more powerful heater, more powerful heated seats, etc. I don’t have an issue with either car but there is no such thing as a free lunch.

  17. arne-nl says:

    This ‘test’ is a shoddy hack job.

    First of all (as others mentioned in the comments): they used advertised capacity. I know that Renault advertises the usable capacity of their battery (even underreporting it. My 2013 Zoe had a 22 kWh battery according to specs, but I could use 23.5 kWh it). Other brands use nominal capacity, and how much of a percentage is usable differs from manufacturer to manufacturer.

    Furthermore, they relied on the on-board computer to correctly report used energy. Who says these things are calibrated?

    Then they said that they drove 130 km/h on the motorway, but could often not go faster than 80-100 km/h. This suggests they were driving in heavy traffic and we all know that slight changes in the distance to the car in front of you and whether this is a car or lorry makes a heck of a lot of difference in consumption.

    So the test protocol should at least have the following rules:
    1. Drive the car to turtle to determine real range.
    2. Recharge the car to full after the test and use the kWh’s reported by the charger to calculate the consumption.
    3. Test when traffic is low, keep a sufficient distance from other vehicles, especially lorries.

    Take this test with a bucket of salt.

  18. Chris says:

    Here is the full specification of the test drive:

    The test drive contains 43km of highway, where we drove max 130 km/h. Some parts are limited 80km/h or 100km/h. Followed by 18km city drive and 82km rural roads (limit 100km/h) with some villages and some 70km/h limitation. Total distance: 143km.
    This track was used to calculate the averade consumption per 100km/h. Temerature was 5C.
    Aircon was set to 21C, seat heating 20 minutes to lowest setting (if available).
    driving light switched on
    normal driving mode (not eco or sport)
    battery charged to 100%
    interiour pre-heated

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