Realistic daily range of an electric vehicle15 Jan 2023
I have been driving my Tesla Model Y 2021 for almost 18 months now, and while I do not really suffer from EV Range Anxiety, I would like to nuance the official Tesla ModelY LR 330 miles / 533km range. That number very much feels like a theoretical maximum. It is not the number you should have in mind when you’re deciding on the next car to buy.
EPA estimated range
The range calculation on most car vendor’s websites is the EPA estimated range. The procedure to get to that number is:
First, the vehicle is fully charged and parked overnight. The following day, the vehicle is driven on a dynamometer — it’s like a treadmill for cars — over successive simulated city and highway routes until the battery is depleted. The total distance traveled is then multiplied by a correction factor that the EPA has determined will more accurately reflect what drivers can expect to achieve in the real world. (…) edmunds.com
Realistic daily range
Driving the car from a 100% charged battery to 0%, the methodology that EPA uses, is something one almost never does with an electric car. There are also some other considerations like outside temperature. Let’s calculate the realistic daily range. This means: the typical distance you will drive between two charging sessions on regular days. Not the best possible range, but the more realistic day-to-day one.
Factor 1: daily battery strategy = 80% → 20%
Most importantly, you do not charge your battery to 100% every day (this is to conserve battery health), and you do not drive until you’re at 0%. People currently driving an ICE car are not always aware of how big a role this plays in daily EV usage.
For regular use, we recommend keeping your car set within the ‘Daily’ range bracket, up to approximately 90% tesla.com • Please do not charge the vehicle to more than an average of 80% during daily short-trip usage. volkswagen.co.uk • Even though a full charge will give you the maximum operating time, it is never a good idea for the overall lifespan of your battery kia.com • Avoid deep discharging - below 20%. When possible, only charge up to 80%. coltura.org
In my case, I typically charge the car to 80%, unless I’m travelling ‘far’ the next day (i.e. more than 100 km / 60 miles). In daily usage, I let the car go down to 20%. This means that, on ‘normal’ days, I only use 60% of the range of my battery. One could probably stretch this to 80% (90% → 10%) if one loves living on the edge.
Factor 2: mileage in real conditions
EPA uses a mix of city and highway scenarios, but your daily mix or style of driving might be different. The EPA mileage for the Model Y LR is 140Wh/km (75KWh, 530km).
However, my personal average mileage is 184 Wh/km (on 26600 km). This gives me a range of only 407km if I would drive my car from 100% to 0% battery, not 533km. That’s 25% less than advertised. Maybe the air here is very thick, or I have a heavy foot.
Factor 3: influence of (cold) climate
Cold weather also has an influence on the battery capacity. This was certainly noticeable this winter when driving in 0-4°C temperature. Let’s say this could take another 20% away of the range.
AAA tested the range effects of 20F (-6°C) degree weather on several popular EVs and found that temperature alone could reduce range by 10-12%, while the use of in-vehicle climate control could amplify range loss to 40% recurrentauto.com
All these capacity factors together:
|533km||EPA estimation for 100% → 0%|
|320km||because daily usage = 80% → 20%|
|240km||because the mileage is not 140 Wh/km but 184 Wh/km|
|200km||when it’s really cold in winter|
So concretely for my Tesla Model Y LR: in the summer, when travelling long distance, my range might be 350 km (using the battery 100% → 10%), in the winter at home it might be as low as 200km.
Imagine your daily commute is 115 km (e.g. Roeselare-Brussel) and you can’t charge at the office. Then you need 230km realistic daily range, and probably more like 300km. The only cars that come near that, are the Volvo EX90 or the BMW i7. Those are not cheap cars.
When choosing your next EV, take 50% of the EPA or WLTP range as your realistic daily range.
|Car||EPA Estimate||Realistic Daily Range|
|Mini Cooper SE||180km||90km|
|Renault Zoe E-Tech||315km||160km|
|Fiat 500 Electric||320km||160km|
|Tesla Model Y LR||530km||260km|
|BMW i7 Saloon||622km||310km|
|Lucid Air Dream Range||645km||325km|