How Much Range You Really Need in an Electric Car

Stop trying to re-create your gas engine car from electricity and the answer will become clear.

If you’re considering an electric vehicle, don’t make the mistake of buying one with too much range. Unlike combustion engine cars with virtually unlimited range, electric cars make the most sense when they have the right amount of range, not a surfeit of it.

There are several reasons to temper your instinct to get the most range possible.

Nissan Leaf – a Perfect Family Car


Range costs a lot of money. For example, a Nissan Leaf with 226 miles of range costs $6,600 more than the same trim level with 149 miles of range.

There is no real parallel with combustion cars as their cost of range is in the price and consumption rate of fuel, not the vehicle’s MSRP. You can argue that an EV earns back its overall cost premium in per-mile energy savings, but a long-range electric car will need many more of those low-cost miles — and probably years of covering them to do so.

The cost of EV range can make buyers recoil from one without knowing that their perception of sufficient range, not cost, is the real problem.


Longer range versions of a given electric car have larger, heavier batteries. Unlike a tank of gas that weighs about 100 pounds and gets lighter as it’s used, an EV battery can easily weigh 1,000 pounds and stays just as heavy as it is “emptied,” increasingly becoming dead weight the remaining amount of charge must lug around.

The long range Tesla Model 3 (358 miles of range) weighs 172 pounds more than the RWD version’s still-generous 272-mile range, a weight difference equal to the entire payload a car will most often carry: the driver. The difference is even more pronounced when comparing a long range Model 3 to a comparable conventional BMW 3 Series, which is about 475 pounds lighter.

Read more: RoadShow


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