Running out of power mid-journey is the top worry for prospective electric vehicle buyers – but most drivers could take a full week of normal trips without recharging. That’s according to research by DrivingElectric.com, the independent consumer advice website on electric vehicles.
The surprise finding of the study into driving habits shows most drivers cover fewer miles over seven days than many typical electric cars can manage on one single charge.
DrivingElectric analysed the journey habits of almost 500 drivers to discover that ‘range anxiety’ is an unnecessary concern for most people.
Researchers found that the total average mileage covered by most drivers in a typical week, including travel for social, leisure, shopping, school runs and commuting, falls well within the published ranges of the latest generation of electric cars.
Only longer business trips or occasional holidays take drivers far enough to require a mid-journey top-up. But normal usage patterns suggest even a mid-week top-up could be a rarity for electric car drivers.
The findings suggest that one of the main barriers to more widespread adoption of electric vehicles is based on a mistaken assumption among motorists that we travel greater distances under normal circumstances than we really do.
In reality, even a shorter range car like an e-Golf – covering between 144 and 186 miles between charges – needs only one top-up to cover a full average week’s total miles for work commuting and social or leisure use.
But the higher weekly average total of 265 miles, covering commuting, social & leisure, shopping and school runs, can be accomplished without topping up at all in a Hyundai Kona Electric 64kWh, which can cover between 292 and 339 miles.
To help consumers better understand electric car ranges DrivingElectric points out the differences between the headline-grabbing maximum claims, typically published by manufacturers, and the more realistic distances covered in longer-term testing. The first – an older test method known as ‘NEDC’ – is typically higher than the range calculated under a wider array of more real-world driving conditions, which is known as the ‘WLTP’ range figure.
The reality of our driving routines in Britain are a far cry from the idea many motorists have of needing to interrupt their journeys – or plug in at the end of every day – to keep their car running.
“So-called range anxiety is consistently named by motorists as a main barrier to going all electric, but the facts suggest that range really shouldn’t worry most of us,” said Vicky Parrott, Associate Editor of DrivingElectric.
“So while many people worry about being able to easily charge-up during a journey, the truth is that electric cars now need charging less frequently for normal use than many of us realise.”
The top ten performers for distance range from 140-155 miles, for a budget model Kia Soul EV, up to a whopping 393 mile maximum promised range for the high end Tesla Model S 100D.
But most motorists would never need the huge range of an expensive Tesla because the lower and mid-range models now commonly available will comfortably cover a full week’s journeys, with power to spare.
Analysts crunched the numbers for a typical week’s driving among 480 motorists and found that the average weekly work commute totals 70 miles. School runs add up over a week to 24 miles. Journeys for social or leisure purposes come in at an average 89 miles per week. And shopping trips typically total 82 miles.
If all of those journeys were taken in one car, that weighs in at a total of 265 miles – a distance that could be covered by four of the cars in the DrivingElectric list without re-charging.
Even for lower-range cars, only one top-up should be needed during the course of a normal week.
Vicky Parrott said: “We are now seeing a widening gap between the perceptions of consumers about the range of electric cars and the capability of the cars themselves.
“We suspect this is because the earliest affordable electric vehicles, like the first Nissan Leaf, enjoyed so much publicity that their shorter ranges have stuck in people’s minds. Just a few years ago the earliest Nissan Leaf could only manage 124 miles. In the same conditions, today’s Leaf will do 235 miles.
“Our research into typical UK driving habits is exciting news because it shows that today’s electric cars are perfectly poised for a breakthrough into the mainstream.”