How far can an EV run before needing to charge?

EV models sold in the United States get efficiency and range ratings from the EPA, much like ICE vehicles. There are currently around 35 EVs for sale in Minnesota with EPA rated ranges from 114 to 520 miles with a median of 260 miles. Temperature and speed affect the efficiency of all cars, but since EVs use most of their available energy, they are effected more.

In particular, current lithium ion battery chemistries can lose up to 50% of stored energy (temporarily) in below-zero temperatures. This can be mitigated if the car is plugged in by preconditioning (warming) the battery using the car’s software (and app). It is also mitigated by starting with a full battery every day if the car can be plugged in overnight.

An unfortunate issue in the US EV market is that drivers believe they need much more range than they actually do. The paradigm of driving 150 – 200 miles before refueling just doesn’t apply to EVs which can be charged at home and in so many other places. (See Charging FAQs). In reality, the average US driver drives less than 40 miles per day (14,600 miles / year) and 95% of all trips are less than 30 miles (see graphic below). This represents a large waste of battery capacity which could go toward making more electric vehicles.

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