Updated March 5, 2020
How far can I drive an EV?
Written by Larry Thompson
The short answer
Most EV’s today have a driving range between 120 and 370 miles per charge. Given the average drive of 40 miles per day even EV’s at the lower end of the driving range should be suitable for daily driving assuming the car can be charged each day or two.
For trips longer than the EV’s estimated driving range owners will want to plan to stop at a charging station in route to their destination. (see the How Do I Charge my EV When Travelling? question).
Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV)
It’s important to remember that the manufactures driving range estimate is based on a set of predefined conditions that may or may not reflect your actual driving conditions. Factors that typically reduce driving range are 1) driving speed, 2) repeated and aggressive acceleration, 3) ambient temperature, 4) using the cabin heater or seat warmers and 4) towing trailers or other cars.
EV batteries operate and charge most efficiently when the battery and ambient temperatures are about 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Driving in ambient temperatures in the mid to low 30-degree range can reduce driving by up to 20-25%. Using the cabin heater will significantly reduce range, although seat warmers used in place of or in conjunction with the cabin heater is a more energy-efficient to stay warm in colder conditions.
EV batteries also charge faster in moderate ambient temperatures as the battery needs to be in a prescribed temperature range before optimal charging speeds can be obtained. Some EV’s automatically warm the battery when the EV’s navigation system is plotting a route to a charging station. See the “Will I lose driving range in the winter?” question for more range issues in Winter driving conditions.
Most EV’s have high efficiency LED headlights which do not noticeably reduce driving range.
Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV)
The above applies to battery electric vehicles (BEVs). Plug-in hybrids, which have a smaller battery pack along with a gas tank, do not have this constraint. Once the battery is depleted, the vehicle will automatically switch over to the gasoline engine. These vehicles do not all work in the same way. To conserve battery, some of these vehicles will engage the engine going up a steep hill or at high speeds even if there is charge remaining.