Don’t let anxiety about electric car range stop you enjoying your drive

The mileage capabilities of electric cars and the issue of range anxiety hit the headlines whenever switching to electric cars gets discussed, as no one wants to have to worry about running out of charge and getting stranded by the roadside. But with good journey planning, evolving cars and a growing charging network, are these worries already a thing of the past?

How far can an electric car go on one charge?

The range of an electric car is how many miles it can travel on a single charge of battery and can be anywhere between 84 and 396 miles. This distance depends on the make and model of the car and the size and power of the car battery. Other factors can also affect the mileage of an electric car, such as how you drive it and the outside temperature.

According to a JD Power survey in 2021, the range of a model is the top factor in deciding which electric car to buy. Higher range gives drivers more peace of mind, and how many miles a particular electric car model can go is often the first question buyers ask. Range anxiety, or the fear of running out of power before you can recharge, is one of the main reasons people aren’t sure about getting an electric car.

What affects electric car mileage?

Manufacturers give a range for all electric vehicles, but this doesn’t take into account all the factors that might affect it on the road. Other things that influence how far your car can travel on a charge include:

  • Battery size - the bigger the battery (measured in kWh), the greater the range of an electric car.
  • Battery age - over time a battery will lose its capacity to fully charge, which in turn will affect range.
  • Where you drive - driving long distance on motorways at a steady speed or stop-and-start short journeys in cities use different amounts of battery energy.
  • How you drive - fast accelerating and aggressive driving will take more of a toll on a battery than a slower, steadier approach.
  • Where you charge it - rapid chargers may be convenient but using them too often may cause more battery wear and tear than slower chargers.
  • Temperature - electric cars will have less range when it’s colder outside. Using the heater or air conditioning also takes charge from the battery

Can you calculate the range of an electric car?

As how far an electric car can go is so dependent on these factors and varies from model to model, some manufacturers have introduced online calculators that work out range, tailored to how you will use a car.

The Renault Zoe calculator is a good example. It helps you work out the impact of factors such as speed, journey type, outside temperature and heater use.

  • The Renault Zoe has a WLTP (a laboratory test) driving range of up to 239 miles.
  • Driving at 30mph when the temperature outside is 20 degrees will take you 213 miles.
  • At 50 mph and an outside temperature of 5 degrees when you need the heating on will take you 147 miles.

What’s the average range of an electric car?

Average electric vehicle range falls between 100 and 300 miles, which is enough to cover the majority of daily journeys people make, like commuting to work, running errands or visiting friends.

And when you do face a longer trip, the growing number of charging stations available across the country should be more than enough to get you smoothly from A to B.

Which electric car has the longest range?

The electric car with the best mileage on the UK market is currently the Mercedes EQS, with an advertised range of 485 miles. It has a huge 107.8kWh battery, and a matching price tag from £102,160 (March 2022).

There are a variety of cars with ranges all over 335 miles but this would be a long way to drive without a rest break, where you’d have the chance to recharge. And considering on average most people travel less than 30 miles a day, even cars with a shorter range cope well with most everyday needs.

How to increase the range of your electric car

There are a number of things you can do to increase the range of your electric car and this will become part of your driving behaviour just as much as filling a petrol car before the tank is empty or making sure you check your tyre pressures on a regular basis.

Drive smoothly

take it easy on the accelerator.

Slow down

stay under 60 mph when possible.

Use the car’s controls

many electric cars have an eco-mode which helps you drive with saving battery charge in mind, and using regenerative braking helps you recharge the battery as you drive.

Keep your cool

pre-programming a car to a certain temperature while it’s still plugged in will use less energy than doing so when you are already driving. That way you can use the heating or air conditioning to stay comfortable without impacting the battery too much.

Look after your tyres

having the tyres at the correct pressure means less strain on the battery and better energy consumption

Travel light

less luggage and less weight in the car needs less energy to drive it along. And that might include ditching the luggage rack and leaving the bikes at home.

Plan your route as efficiently as you can

avoid heavy traffic areas and aim to maintain a smooth, steady speed as much as possible.

How far an electric car can go on one charge is less of a concern when you understand that most people adopt a top-up strategy when keeping their car charged, so you rarely get to the point where you drive the battery completely down before recharging. And if you do ever run into trouble on the road, Saga Car Insurance for electric cars with Breakdown Assistance will take you to the nearest charge point or provide a roadside charge.