Electric Car Range: How Much Is Enough?

The folks at Green Car Reports asked their Twitter followers to tell them how much range electric cars need before they go mainstream. Here are the results.

Well, that’s a surprise, isn’t it? We know from statistics that the majority of people drive 40 miles or less every day. Yet only 3% of those who responded felt 120 miles of range was sufficient. That’s three times further than the average driver travels on a typical day. The vast majority said a minimum of 200 miles was essential, while a third said they wanted 300 miles of range. Clearly, range anxiety is a powerful factor in the way people think of electric cars.

There is only one electric with 300 miles of range and it is the new Tesla Model S P100D with Ludicrous Mode — a car that sells for four to five times what a typical passenger sedan costs today. Surely price is also an important consideration when it comes to buying a car, isn’t it? According to Kelly Blue Book, the median price of a new light vehicle in America as of this spring was $33,666.

There will come a day when the price of batteries plummets just as the price of computer chips did 30 years ago. But even though Elon and company are pushing as hard as possible to make that happen, it’s going to be many years before there are electric cars on the market that sell for the price of a Civic or Corolla. Until then, there will be more electric cars on the road but the total number will probably be less than EV advocates hope for.

Wishing for a car with 300 miles of battery range pretty much guarantees a car that is out of reach for many shoppers. Some of the disconnect between reality and expectations is down to the media, which emphasizes range over all other electric car attributes. That’s why manufacturers need to do more to educate buyers and why events like National Drive Electric Week are so important to moving the electric car revolution forward.

Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid electric car

Ford recently upped the capacity of the gas tank in the Fusion Energi PHEV by a half gallon so it can advertise it is the plug-in hybrid car with the most range on the market. That claim is both accurate and deceptive. People hear the word “range” and assume it means how far the car can go on battery power. In fact, the electric range of the Fusion Energi is a very modest 21 miles. Ford’s claims create confusion rather than enlightenment. No wonder people are confused.

Source: Green Car Reports

Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.