The real world range of popular EVs put to the test

The real world range of popular EVs put to the test
The real world range of popular EVs put to the test

Not a week goes by without one surveys declaring that EV buyers are no longer bothered by range anxiety while another is insisting they are still put off electric cars because they’re scared they’ll run out of charge.

The truth is that for many motorists the current and upcoming crop of EVs have plenty of range for everyday use and there’s a growing rapid charge infrastructure to help keep them moving.

However, there’s still a rightful amount of scepticism around the official ranges of these cars and questions over how far they can travel on one charge in real-world conditions.

To answer these questions car buying platform carwow decided to put six  EVs with some of the longest claimed ranges to the test to see which would travel furthest and which got closest to its official figures.

As carwow’s Mat Watson admits, not many EV drivers are going to risk running their cars’ batteries completely flat but the test did produce some interesting results, showing that you don’t have to pay huge money for decent performance.

Mainstream versus luxury

The test took six cars from mainstream and luxury brands – the Nissan Leaf e+, Kia e-Niro, Audi e-tron, Jaguar I-Pace, Mercedes-Benz EQC and Tesla Model 3 – and after charging them to 100 per cent and leaving them overnight headed north from London.

Each car’s air con was  set at 20 degrees, a mobile phone connected to the infotainment system and the cruise control set to the motorway speed limit.

Tesla Model 3
The Tesla Model 3 covered the furthest distance (Photo: Tesla)

Winners and losers

In terms of pure distance travelled, the Tesla came out on top, covering 270 miles before running out of charge. That’s not necessarily surprising given that it had the largest battery and longest official range.

However, it was Kia’s e-Niro which came closest to matching its official figures, its 255 miles was 90 per cent of the claimed 282. In contrast, the Tesla, with a claimed range of 248, covered just 78 per cent of the official distance.

Kia e-Niro
The Kia e-Niro came closest to its official range and covered the second-longest distance overall (Photo: Kia)

The Nissan Leaf was the next best performing, managing 208 miles or 87 per cent of its claimed 239 miles.

At the opposite end of the table, the Mercedes-Benz EQC managed just 194 miles on one charge, 75 per cent of its official maximum range, just ahead of the Jaguar I-Pace.

EV range test results:

Make and model Range test achieved (miles) WLTP claimed range (miles) Percentage of claimed range achieved
Tesla Model 3 270 348 78%
Kia e-Niro 255 282 90%
Jaguar I-PACE 223 292 76%
Nissan Leaf 208 239 87%
Audi e-tron 206 255 81%
Mercedes EQC 194 259 75%

Running flat

To see what happens when the charge read-out hits zero, the testers drove on the motorway until they neared zero per cent charge then left and drove close to a charging point until the car stopped and could go no further. Fve of the six vehicles were able to keep going for a significant amount of time despite showing a completely empty battery. However, when they did completely stop, most of the vehicles ‘locked up’ and proved difficult to move.

Mercedes-Benz EQC
The Mercedes EQC covered the shortest distance and fell furthest short of its claimed range (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

Mat Watson said: “We know that ‘range anxiety’ is a big concern for people thinking about switching from petrol to electric – no one wants to get stranded. But our test showed you could drive an average of 226 miles and all of the cars were able to keep going after their systems claimed their batteries were totally flat.

“On average, only 81 per cent of the manufacturer-claimed range was achieved and, if you allow a battery to run truly flat, electric cars can be difficult to move. But that’s a similar figure to the percentage of potential range you’d get in a petrol or diesel car. Plus, in the real-world, these cars’ sat-nav systems would direct you to a nearby charging station long before you ground to a halt.”

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