Real range tests show electric car capabilities

real range
© iStock/3alexd

What Car?, the consumer magazine for potential car buyers, has released the results of its real range tests on electric cars, many of which performed at a significantly lower rate than manufacturer claims.

Range anxiety, the nagging concern that an electric car will run out of charge before it reaches its destination, is still an off-putting factor in many consumers’ decision not to purchase an electric vehicle. This can be exacerbated by the unreliability of official range figures provided by car manufacturers, which can differ from the real range a car is capable of driving without stopping to recharge.

Each model was driven at What Car?’s test centre until its battery ran down, recharged to gauge the time it would take to fully charge the battery; and put through a range of other tests to evaluate the full difference between the official battery ranges provided by the manufacturer and the actual real range performance of each car.

The Smart ForFour EQ was determined to have the worst real range of all the cars tested, lasting only 57 miles between charges; the manufacturer had claimed the ForFour had an electric range of 96 miles. The best performer of the test, the Hyundai Kona Electric 64kWh, boasted a real range of 259 miles. Hyundai has marketed the car as having a range of “up to” 300 miles.

While the UK’s charging infrastructure is improving, with around 4,800 separate locations providing a total of nearly 7,500 chargers nationwide, range anxiety persists. Studies into the driving habits of UK drivers suggest cars with an electric range of 265 miles could serve the average motorist for up to a week without recharging – several electric vehicles could achieve this according to manufacturers’ claims, but the real range test suggests otherwise. In spite of rapidly improving electric vehicle performance and facilities, therefore, range anxiety is unlikely to be alleviated by inflated claims from manufacturers.



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