The most important measurement for EVs right now is their driving range. Which EV on the market has the longest driving range? Let’s see if your favorite car is on the list.
Let’s talk about driving range before going any further. Public driving range data released by car manufacturers were collected using WLTP standards, which are generally considered superior to their predecessor NEDC, although still somewhat superfluous. In comparison to both WLTP and NEDC, metrics from the United States EPA even more closely reflect real-life conditions. Even so, some outlets, namely the oldest automotive magazine in the world Autocar and its sister website whatcar.com, have decided to come up with their own sets of metrics through proprietary road tests. Using these road tests, they have since released a ranking of EV battery performances.
A total of 22 cars were tested. Cars ranked 15th to 22nd place are all small cars. Because of their diminutive size and in turn limited battery capacities, these cars have driving ranges shorter than 200 km, with Smart Forfour EQ coming in dead last at 90 km and 4.6 km/kWh.
The first generation Nissan Leaf serves as the low-hanging fruit for EVs with over 200 km driving range, at 204 km and an energy efficiency of 4.48 km/kWh. One can see here the delicate balancing act between battery capacity and curb weight, since other cars mentioned here with shorter driving ranges compared to the Leaf all have energy efficiencies superior to that of the Leaf.
Another interesting entrant is BMW i3. An earlier version of this model, the 94Ah, had a lower-capacity battery, which was good for 193 km on a single charge. The upgraded model, i3 120Ah, sees increased battery capacity and essentially the same dimensions, raising its driving range to 264 km, owing to BMW’s maturation in battery technology. The new battery is denser while remaining the same size, meaning the new i3 is somewhat competitive.
Tesla dominates the top 12 list, starting from its cheapest Model 3 Standard Range Plus, sitting comfortably in the 12th place, though its driving range doesn’t quite live up to its “plus” moniker. This model has the shortest tested driving range of all Tesla models on the market, at about 289 km at 4.96 km/kWh, which is a far cry from the nominal driving range of 409 km.
In the 11th place is the Renault Zoe R135, which sells like hot cakes in Europe and is good for more than 300km on a single charge, making it a standout among the new generation of small EVs. The R135 has a 307 km driving range, with an energy efficiency of 4.96 km/kWh, similar to Nissan’s Leaf e+. Should the R135 ever become available in the Taiwanese market, it is likely to positively disrupt the domestic entry-level EV sector.
Coming up is the main event – the top 10 ranking, in which one finds plenty of Teslas but none in the top three, unfortunately.
Tesla occupies four of the top 10 positions on this list, with Model X and Model S tested being older cars in their respective series (Source: What Car?)
The Hyundai Kia Automotive Group performed admirably in this test. As previously covered by TechNews, Hyundai Kona is extremely energy efficient, so much so that the EPA finds it to be the most energy efficient EV. On the other hand, Kia Niro is also an able performer. Kona and Niro are two models in the ranking to also have gasoline-taking versions.
Regrettably, the Model X and Model S vehicles that were tested were both older models, and Tesla has refused to provide current models for retesting. According to specs, the latest models are expected to last more than 400 km on a single full charge.
What this ranking shows is that under controlled testing environments, some manufacturers are posting vastly inflated figures, although, to be fair, much of this inflation can be attributed to WLTP’s testing methodologies, since lab environments are not an accurate reflection of real-life road conditions. Also worth mentioning is the fact that, despite the comprehensive list of road test conditions indicated in the ranking, there exist many other variables that can introduce discrepancies which may affect the accuracy of data collected, meaning the ranking should not be taken as gospel.