If I had a penny for every time I heard someone complaining about electric vehicles and autonomy…wow…I’d be a rich man! In fact, I would be so rich that I could perhaps afford a Lucid Air, the new King range!
It will reach 500 miles on the highway, which is about 800 km… but would it reach 1000 km if you drove it around town?… now there is a thought.
Today we take a look at reach…and what elements really influence reach. And finally, we consider who will win the 1,000 km race!
Let’s take a moment to look at some of the best and worst for the range out there. And we’ll start with some of the worst. The Dacia Spring comes to mind with its 27kWh battery and real range of around 110 miles. But it’s so cheap that you’ll excuse it! Not so lucky for the Mazda MX-30. Its usable 30kWh battery will only get you 110 miles in the real world, but that’s twice the price of the Dacia.
Even if you’re willing to spend a lot more money, that doesn’t necessarily guarantee you a good range. The all-electric Hummer has a battery that is actually heavier than some small cars! That’s huge… well over 200 kWh! So, does it give you a mind-blowing range? No…we won’t know until we see them in the real world, but maybe 300 miles away?
Even the likes of the Mercedes EQC are quite an inefficient vehicle. It can look good and be extremely comfortable. But… in real-world driving, it will struggle to cover more than 250 miles.
But some electric vehicles can work very well, and the limits of what we thought possible just 10 years ago are constantly being pushed!
Take a look at the Hyundai Kona with a usable 64kWh battery, some owners have driven almost 400 miles! Even cheaper is the MG5 Long Range, which will do 300 miles in good condition from a usable 57kWh battery.
Of course, in the mid-range is a car we tested recently on this channel… the amazing Tesla Model 3 Long Range. Blake took it on a 500 mile day trip and was blown away by its efficiency. The latest variant will allow you to comfortably cover 300 miles and even reach 400 miles in easy driving.
In years past we’d have jumped straight to the Model S, but now there’s a new king of the lineup in town. The Lucid Air has a usable battery of just over 100kWh and will easily cover 400 miles on one charge. Recently, a journalist by the name of Tom Moloughney in the US ran the Lucid at a steady 70 mph on the highway and covered 500 miles on a single charge! Just nuts!
What affects range?
So why is there such a range variation? Why do some cars go further than others with a similar sized battery? We’ll look at some of the factors that affect reach. And then we will return to our original question!
Tires & rims
Tires and wheels are extremely important when it comes to range. Just hop on the configurator for a car like the Tesla Model 3. As you change your choice of wheels, you can see the range for the same car will go up and down. So generally you want slightly smaller wheels.
The tires you fit will also have an impact on range. In general, electric vehicles are fitted with specially designed tires to maximize efficiency. Tread pattern and weight, as well as material width, depth and compound, are factors.
Aerodynamics play a crucial role in determining how much range you’ll get. And that’s even more of a factor at higher speeds when you’re really hitting the air hard. The more the car is slippery in the air, the less energy it consumes, the more autonomy it gains! Simple!
And we love seeing manufacturers really focus on that. Look, it’s easy to put a 200kWh battery in a brick of an SUV to get 400 miles of range, but that’s not really what we want to see.
The kings of aerodynamics, at least at the production car level, have been the likes of the Hyundai Ioniq, which many of its owners have dubbed “The Wind Knife.” But dating back a few decades, the EV1 set the benchmark for aerodynamics. Too bad the car met such an end! Recently, Mercedes sits at the top of the table for aerodynamics. The sleek EQS boasts a drag coefficient of 0.2… which is amazing when passing and beats everything else on the road except the EQE which comes in at the same level.
Batteries are by far the most important factors when it comes to battery life. Why is that? Well, the more energy you can store in the battery, the longer you’ll get out of the car. But as we already mentioned, there is more than that.
Not all batteries are created equal. Their design is constantly evolving. Different cell sizes, different chemistries, etc. Some are more energetic than others. But anyway, batteries are heavy stuff. They make up a significant portion of the car’s weight. So the more batteries you put in a car, the heavier it is and the less efficient it will be. There is a trade-off here, with manufacturers trying to balance cost and efficiency with the benefit of extra range.
The 1000 km race
So, are there any cars coming onto the line that will hit 1,000km? In a sense, one could argue that they are already there. Some people have modified existing cars by adding more batteries in the trunk. About 2 years ago, Hyundai managed to get one of its Kona models to travel 1,026 km on a single charge. But the problem is that these are exceptional circumstances and controlled hypermiling environments. What we’re asking for is a car that will do 1,000 km in real driving.
The Mercedes EQXX is gearing up to be one of the first production cars to achieve this. The EQXX focuses on efficiency rather than jamming batteries. They predict 95% efficiency, which would be incredible. The design is extremely aerodynamic with a drag coefficient of 0.17, and the way they designed the battery means it will be much smaller and lighter than previous EVs for the same amount of stored energy. They talk about using a battery that will not exceed 100 kWh to achieve this feat.
Tesla would have been an obvious choice for who will produce a car to travel that distance. But Elon Musk recently said they could have made a car that would go 600 miles on a charge, but “it would have made the product worse.”
The Lightyear One is now available for pre-order, so it will be interesting to see how they perform when the car is in customers’ hands. The car will likely go over 500 miles on a charge under favorable conditions. And that comes from a battery estimated at around 60 kWh. Will we see them release a version with a bigger battery, say 80kWh, which could well reach 1,000km?
Only time will tell if we see a production car capable of doing this. But in the meantime, we hope to get a lot more chargers that deliver power faster. If we have the right mags in the right places, then the whole talk about the 1000km range might just be moot.
We love to hear from people around the world.
So let us know what you think in the comments.
Who can you see making the first electric vehicle that will travel 1,000 km on a charge in real driving?
Or maybe you think it’s completely unnecessary…and what we need is better chargers to be much more widespread.
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