At the end of April 2022 I took delivery of my new - leased - VW eUp! electric car. I'll be honest - I love my EV and don't ever want to go back to a petrol car if I can help it. We also own a petrol Kia Sportage, but I hope that the next time we replace our family car it will be with an EV. The church have put in a charger, so I can charge from home overnight with some cheap electrons from Octopus for the princely sum of £2.52.

Get into a conversation about EVs, and there are a bunch of topics that will likely come up. Some of that will be the misinformation spread by the press :( but there will also be a discussion about range. Ah, say the fans, but most people only actual travel short journeys so we don't really need bigger ranges. My average experience confirms this. I probably only need to charge once a week on average.

But I also have parents who live 250 miles south and in-laws who live >200 miles north. Whilst not a weekly occurence, longer distance journeys are a regular part of my year. And there are a few things that I think need to be clarified when it comes to the reality of what range means, hence the post.

My eUp has a WLTP range of 160 miles. This is based on averaging in city and highway driving in good conditions. I've done more than 160 miles without charging on occasion, and I've done less when the weather is cold and the heating is on! (Note that petrol cars also vary in the mpg, but you notice less because their range is bigger.... Also, my eUp doesn't have a heat pump like newer EVs, which would be more efficient).

The EV Database entry for the eUp suggests that a real-world range is more like 125. But long distance is mostly motorway, so we're probably talking about 115 miles if the weather is decent. But here's where things get interesting (for certain values of interesting)....

You don't really want to drop below 10%, so let's take 11.5 miles off that range to 103.5 miles. And when you charge up on a rapid charger, you don't really want to go much beyond 85%, because the charging curve means that the last 15% will probably take as long as the previous 75%. So your realistic mileage between charging stops is actually more like 86.25 miles. And then you're going to be charging (again, via EV Database) about 48 minutes.

So - the journey to my parents, at 248 miles, is going to require 3 stops and probably add 2 to 2.5 hours onto a 5 hour journey. Now - I know that I would likely stop on any journey. But in a petrol car I'd probably only stop once, or maybe twice, for a total of 30-45 minutes.

Lets reverse engineer that "normal" version of a journey - 1 stop for 30-45 minutes. That means the car needs to have a 75% range of 125 highway miles, and a charging speed of 30-45 minutes. Total range would therefore be at least 200 miles on EVD's "real" score, which probably means a WLTP range of >250 miles. Charging speed will depend on how efficient the car is - an inefficient car will require a bigger battery which will take longer to charge.

If we look at a couple of the big contenders and see what they would manage.

The MG4 long range will do 205 mild weather highway miles. Our 75% scale puts that at 153.75 miles meaning a single stop is definitely do-able. Fast charge time is 24 minutes. Great.

The BYD Seagull will do 190 mild weather highway miles. 75% is 142.5, so a single stop is good. Fast charge is 41 minutes. Perfect.

The Renault Zoe - 175 mild miles. 75% would be 131.25 miles. As long as my stop was in the right place, it'd be OK, but there's a chance I'd need to stop twice. Fast charge is 56 minutes. So this is borderline.

The upcoming Citroen eC3 - 145 mild miles, so 108.75. Better than my eUp, but I'd need to stop twice. Fast charge time is better at 32 minutes. (I'm a little disappointed that a newer car with 25% more battery than my eUp doesn't have better range, tbh).

All this to say - efficiency, range and charge speed are all important to most consumers. Most of the people I know have relatives who live >100 miles away who they visit regularly. They're not asking to drive 600 miles without stopping. But they are asking for a long journey without adding considerable time.