EV Experts Reveal Battery Range Really Isn’t a Priority for Car Companies

Over the years, electric vehicle owners have found several ways to increase the efficiency of their car’s battery, enabling it to go farther on a single charge. But nowadays, battery range isn’t as important as performance to most EV drivers. 

According to the Robb Report, advancements in EV batteries focus more on reducing weight and cost for manufacturers. Consumers’ range anxiety isn’t much of a consideration. 

Why do some drivers get range anxiety?

Electric cars at an EV charging station in Washington, D.C.
Electric cars at an EV charging station | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Range anxiety is when an EV’s battery runs low and the driver must find a charging station soon or face getting stranded miles from home. Stress sets in as they frantically search for a place to power the battery before it completely drains. Though not every EV owner experiences this phenomenon, frequent travelers must face it now and then. 

As automakers produce more and more electric vehicles, the need for charging stations rises. But there aren’t as many readily available as gas stations. When your gas-powered vehicle needs fuel, you can usually find several stations within a 10-mile radius. But charging stations are more difficult to find.

However, the range might not be as much of an issue for some drivers. Instead, it might be charging speed

One way to alleviate range anxiety is to purchase a plug-in hybrid vehicle instead of an electric car. Another way to avoid getting range anxiety is to plot out the locations of charging stations along your route. Have backup spots in case your first choice is unavailable. 

Car companies believe EV battery range isn’t as important as you might think

Manufacturers are improving batteries all the time, but you might notice they’re not exactly releasing longer-range EVs that can travel for several hundred miles on a single charge. Sure, some electric cars can go 300 to 400 miles, but car companies have been focusing more on EV battery performance than range these days.

Carsten Breitfeld, CEO of the EV maker Faraday Motors, told the Robb Report that 98% of electric vehicle owners drive shorter daily commutes instead of longer trips. Producing a 700-mile range battery would require at least 150 kWh, Xinbao Gao, the director of high-voltage battery systems for Karma Automotive, added. But to do that, the battery would be heavier and require more storage space inside the vehicle, reducing the EV’s efficiency. 

Of course, they’re referring to lithium-ion batteries. Alternative options might be a different story. Angelo Kafantaris, the CEO of Hyperion Motors, said that “the energy-storage capacity for hydrogen is 124 times better than lithium-ion.” The automaker’s hydrogen-powered XP-1 prototype boasts a thousand-mile range, Kafantaris said. 

What EVs have long the longest battery range?

Still, some electric cars have a battery range that would appeal to long-distance drivers. For instance, all new Tesla EVs can travel over 300 miles. The longest reported is the Model S Long Range Plus, with an EPA-estimated 412 miles of range, Carvana’s blog, Behind the Wheel, reports.

If you’re interested in a non-Tesla EV, the Ford Mustang Mach-E might fit the bill. This compact crossover’s electric powertrain can go 305 miles.

And an affordable model is the Chevy Bolt EV. For around $38,000, you get decent passenger space, a good number of tech features, and 259 miles on a full charge. 

EV batteries are always improving, but you might not see tremendously long ranges with the lithium-ion versions. Performance is more important for consumers who don’t tend to travel far from home. But for drivers who take long trips, a hydrogen version might be the better option in the future. 

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