Electric driving

What is the range of an electric car?

May 2, 2022

Battery capacity in kWh
The range of an electric car – also known as driving range or range – firstly depends on the capacity of the battery. It is expressed in kWh (kilowatt hours). The higher the capacity in kWh, the more energy the battery can store and the more kilometers you can drive with a full battery.

– Energy consumption in Wh/km
The second important factor is how much energy is consumed while driving. That differs per model, depending on the weight of the car, the air resistance, the efficiency of the electric motor and things like that. The energy consumption of an electric car is usually expressed in Wh/km. (watt hours per kilometer).

– City or highway?
Third, the range of an electric car depends on whether you are driving in the city or on the highway. Unlike a petrol or diesel car, where you constantly shift to a higher gear, thereby reducing the engine speed and fuel consumption, an electric car does not have a gearbox. With an electric car it is simple: the faster you drive, the faster the electric motor turns and the more energy it consumes. At higher speeds on the highway, the range decreases faster than at lower speeds in the city. In addition, you can recover energy in city traffic with the regenerative braking system, which allows you to increase the driving range of the electric car.

– External factors
In addition (of course) the driving style of the driver also influences the range, just like the weather conditions, the traffic situation, the tire pressure, how many people are in the car and the use of (heavy) power consumers, such as the air conditioning.

Less driving range in winter

Furthermore, the battery in an electric car is sensitive to low temperatures. The colder the battery, the less energy it can hold. Normally you can drive less far in winter with a full battery than in summer.

Fortunately, more and more electric cars are equipped with a system to heat the battery in the winter, or cool it in the summer, so that the battery functions as efficiently as possible in any weather and the loss of range is less. A lithium-ion battery performs best at temperatures between 15 and 25 degrees Celsius.

ALSO READ: How long does an electric car battery last?

How is the range of an electric car measured?

Given the many factors that influence the range of an electric car, there is no ready-made answer about the actual range in practice. In order to give an indication and to be able to compare electric cars fairly with each other, the WLTP was created.

The WLTP (Worldwide harmonized Light vehicles Test Procedure) is the official, independent and mandatory measurement of the fuel or energy consumption of all (electric) passenger cars and vans sold new in Europe. Consumption is measured in a special test environment on a roller bench at an ambient temperature of 23 degrees Celsius. With an electric car, a realistic car journey is simulated and the power consumption is measured during a journey in city traffic, on the highway and a combination of these. The latter (WLTP combined) is the range mentioned in all communications unless otherwise stated.

Which car has the longest range?

The development of batteries for electric cars is progressing at a rapid pace. The model that still impresses with the largest range of all electric cars may not be so special next year. This is currently the top 5 electric cars with the longest range according to the WLTP (combined):

How can you maximize the range?

No matter how realistic a car journey is simulated in the official consumption measurement: the range according to the WLTP never corresponds to the range in practice. The fact that you actually get 15 to 20% fewer kilometers from a full battery compared to the combined WLTP range is not at all surprising.

Yet you can exert a lot of influence on the range of an electric car yourself. For example, by maintaining a calm driving style. By driving 100 km/h on the highway instead of 120 km/h you can save quite a lot of energy. Also, do not take unnecessary luggage with you to save weight, always make sure that your tires are sufficiently inflated and only use the air conditioning when necessary. Most electric cars also have an ‘ECO’ mode in which all systems, including the engine, are put in an extra consumption-friendly position to maximize the range. Last but not least : make maximum use of the regenerative braking system, which recovers energy during braking and coasting. This also allows you to maximize the range.