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EV Range, Anxiety & More …
It's impossible to talk about electric vehicles without talking about range anxiety and related matters! So let's do a quick dive.
A post specific to range was not planned in the context of this analysis of electric vehicles, with, already published, an executive summary, a part 1 and a part 2, available both in English and French.
After all, range anxiety is well known when it comes to electric vehicles. And the industry is working hard to improve ranges, we hear. So why bother?
It wasn’t serious academic articles but rather some videos, gleaned here and there on the web, that brought me to write this post, a bit for the fun, but also to illustrate the very peculiar situation in which the car industry and society in general, i.e. everyone of us, are now confronted to with this push for EVs in a number of countries.
With gasoline and diesel cars, range is not really an issue. Car manufacturers can easily increase the dimension of the tank, to ensure sufficient range. As previously discussed, energy density of such tank is about 100x superior to that of a battery. There is no range anxiety with conventional vehicles, it’s just one of the many questionable novelties brought by the EV paradigm.
Also not existing with conventional vehicles are related issues such as long charging time, scarcity of the charging stations, impossibility to secure conventional help, with just a jerrycan of gasoline or diesel, in case you run out of gas, etc. etc.
Ladies and gentlemen, with electric vehicles, everything changes! But not for the better!
What’s a Good Decent Range for a Passenger Vehicle?
In Part 2 of our article, we show how high efficiency internal combustion engine (ICE) powered vehicles are way better than electric vehicles (EVs), not just for range and convenience, but also for CO2 emissions, which are lower, NOT higher, than with EVs. (yes there is no strong rationale for EVs, contrary to what we are being told)
The example we took is the Volkswagen Golf 8 2.0 TDI 115HP which is announced at a 3.5 litres /100 km consumption of diesel. Even if we add 15% for “real world” driving conditions, the consumption of 4 litres/100 km remains very low.
This highly efficient diesel car will have an official MPG of 67, which amounts to 58 MPG with the 15% adjustment. With a usable tank volume of 45 liters, this means a range of over 1000 km, or 1125 km to be more precise.
So the benchmark to evaluate EV ranges should not be the best range among EVs but rather how an already existing alternative is doing.
So let’s assume 1000 km, or 620 miles, to be our benchmark for a good decent range for a passenger vehicle. If you achieve a higher range, it’s progress.
If the range of an EV is lower, compared to an ICE vehicle, it’s NOT progress. It’s regression, it’s decline, it’s going backward.
Actual Range versus Manufacturers Claimed Ranges
The CarNow channel on YouTube published a video some 4 months ago, comparing the actual range of 6 electric vehicles. The video attracted a whopping 2.6 million views, which shows how the topic is getting peoples’ attention.
The compared vehicles and main findings are found in this table. The achieved ranges vary from 203 to 285 miles, i.e. in km (1 mile = 1.609 km) from 326 to 458 km.
The worst range is about one third of our reference vehicle with 1000 km / 621 miles diesel vehicle.
And the best is still less than half the range of our reference vehicle.
Let that sink in. The ranges achieved by EVs are nowhere near what can easily be achieved by an ICE powered vehicle. Nowhere near.
So, you are going to pay much more for an EV, which will force you, instead of filling up your tank every 1000 km or so, which takes 5 to 10 minutes max, to getting instead a vehicle that you will need to typically charge 3, 4 or even possibly 5 times, with extensive charging time for each of the charges.
Moreover, as seen on the above screenshot, all the 6 tested EVs have an actual range way inferior to the one claimed by the manufacturer, with actual ranges comprised between 75% and 86% of the claimed, ranges, in that particular test.
The exaggeration of claimed ranges seems to be a real issue. Tesla, for example, is facing a class action lawsuit regarding its claimed ranges.
The suit accuses the company of "false advertising of its electric vehicles’ range, which Tesla grossly overvalued when selling the vehicles to consumers."
"Had Tesla honestly advertised its electric vehicle ranges, consumers either would not have purchased Tesla model vehicles, or else would have paid substantially less for them," the lawsuit reads.
See this article on Mashable.
Charge Your Battery at 80%, Not at 100%!
So let’s dig a bit further.
Real ranges are not only lower than claimed ones, by possibly about 20%, but it seems advisable not to charge your battery at 100%, but rather to charge it at 80% of its capacity!
The reasons: to improve charging performance, and to improve battery longevity.
And who wouldn’t want to improve charging performance and battery longevity, especially as these batteries are extremely expensive?
Those reasons to limit your charge are all explained in this video.
So, if you want to really care for your EV and its precious battery pack, you should only charge it at 80%, i.e. you need to voluntarily reduce your range by a whopping 20% …
So if you add this voluntary reduction to the 20% or so difference between claimed and real ranges, you end up with … 0.8 x 0.8 = 0.64 = 64%.
So when you see a claimed range by a manufacturer, the rule of thumb would be to multiply it by 64%, or roughly by 2/3, to evaluate what would be what we will call here your EV’s practical range.
Here is an example: if the claimed range is 250 miles, or 400 km, then the practical range becomes 160 miles or 256 km!
Laughable, but real.
Oh, and let’s not forget, when your EV ages, it also loses range, as discussed in the article’s part 1. So, further downwards adjustments of the ranges would in principle be needed.
EV Pricing Through the Roof
EVs are far from cheap. For example in the above comparison made by CarNow, here are the prices (20% VAT inclusive), converted in US$ at today’s exchange rate of US$1.26 per £.
- Volkswagen ID Buzz: available from £57,000 (US$ 71,820).
- Mercedes EQA: from £52,000. (US$ 65,520)
- Nissan Ariya: from £46,000 (US$ 57,960)
- Audi Q4 Sportback: from £52,000 (US$ 65,520)
- Genesis GV60: from £54,000 (US$ 68,040)
- Tesla Model Y Long Range: from £53,000. (US$ 66,780)
Many models are not reviewed in this test, in particular, the Tesla Model 3, which has a longer range than those vehicles. It comes with a price from £42,990 on the UK market and a claimed range from 305 miles (up to 374 miles)
Note that in order to avoid very long charging times at home, you would need also to equip yourself with a home rapid charger, such as Tesla's new Universal Wall Connector which will cost some US$ 600 plus installation.
How is all this pricing comparing to our above VW Golf Diesel model? If you access the configuration calculator on the VW UK website, the announced starting price for such model is £28,165 (i.e. US$ 35,500, VAT included)
VW Golf Diesel model costs just above half the price of those EVs in the UK!
And as we have seen, it can drive at 200 km/h, it has a range of over 1000 km, it drives some 60 Miles per gallon (MPG), and it can last many many years and unlike an EV, will not require a very expensive battery replacement after some 8 to 10 years.
And, according to our analysis, it emits less, not more, CO2 than a comparable EV.
And yes, it’s much much cheaper than a comparable EV.
But what do governments want you to buy? Not the most efficient, convenient and cheapest cars! No. That would be too logical.
They want you instead to buy the models that have very limited range, have lots of inconveniences, emit in reality more CO2, and cost way more!
In Case You are Running Out of Charge …
With EVs, there is no jerrycan like solution when you run out of charge. That would be too simple, too practical, too cheap.
With the limited range of EVs, the relative scarcity of charging stations, and the always existing risk of an unexpected power cut at home, possibly preventing you from charging your car to go to work, a number of people have tested various equipment to charge their EV with a generator, i.e. with gasoline.
There are quite a few videos available on the net with such tests having been conducted. Here is an example, where an inverter generator is tested on an EV.
The key result: yes it’s possible to charge your EV battery with such generator.
How long will it take to consume 1 gallon of gasoline? 4 hours.
How much autonomy this gallon does provide you? 15 miles
Yep, 15 miles per gallon, which is a far cry from the normal mileage per gallon achieved with gasoline or diesel cars.
If you have to drive say 30 miles to go to work, you would need to use 2 gallons and need 8 hours to sufficiently charge your EV.
That’s a lot of time and inconvenience, compared to filling up a high efficiency ICE vehicle with just half a gallon from a jerrycan stored in your garage!
There are various generator models. As an indication, the cost as announced on Amazon for the above model is … US$ 1,199, before taxes … which you may need to add to your EV budget, if you want to be reassured you can charge your battery in case of a power cut.
That’s steeply higher than say a 1 gallon jerrycan!
Towing with an EV is not a good idea
A surprising aspect is that EVs don’t seem to be very good at towing trailers, but there are many factors.
Again, there are several videos available.
In the first video in NZ, hills seem to be enemy, so are speeds above 80 km / h.
The next videos feature trucks and show that range is also compromised in those cases, much more than with an ICE powered vehicle.
Warning: these are relatively long videos so try to jump to the conclusions towards the end.
EVs Don’t Like the Cold!
Here is a short video that sums key problems with EVs in cold weather. They charge less and more slowly, for some technical reason. The wait time for charging in the cold is also an obvious issue.
And similarly as with ICE cars, winter tires can substantially increase the needed power, meaning even more range.
Moreover, EVs need more power for heating the interior of the car, contrary to ICE vehicles, which use the otherwise wasted heat to warm up the vehicle.
To avoid issues associated with the cold, you are much better off keeping your car in a garage, if you have one.
This should preferably be a detached garage, just in case … your battery gets into spontaneous fire mode … (see section on fires in the article’s part 2)
In this video, the sources of range loss for EVs in cold winters are discussed, and they are estimated to amount to a whopping 40%! And it’s not just the overnight loss by leaving your car outside (as could be suggested by the title - check at min 6).
Also not to be neglected is the fact that in countries such as Canada, every year, some people end up spending long periods in their cars when trapped in a snow bank.
Sometimes, they will emerge after several days during which it’s possible to heat the car thanks to the gas / diesel powered engine, if you have enough gas of course. This is not possible with an EV.
If trapped in a snow bank for several days, the lack of heat can clearly lead to hypothermia and death - something that is less likely to occur with an ICE car.
The gentleman featured in this article (in French), who survived nearly a week in his vehicle trapped in a snow bank this past winter, would probably be dead, would he have driven an EV.
EVs Don’t Like the Heat Either!
Here is a media report explaining the loss of range if it’s hot outside.
Actually they quote a study showing that the range increasingly declines with higher temperatures.
The range decline is found to be just 2% at 80° F ( 26 °C) but rapidly increases, up to a whopping 31% range reduction at 99° F (37 °C)
So your EV does not like neither the cold, nor the heat.
Is that all? No! …
Oh … and EVs Don’t Seem to Like Water!
OK this could have been covered in part 2 of the article, about EV fires.
But let’s quickly review this video … Yes, an EV fire dramatically reduces the range, obviously, bringing it down to zero, as those EVs are total losses.
Notice also the precautions taken to stock these total loss EVs, as even when the fire has painfully been extinguished, there are risks of re-ignition.
Higher Range Means Bigger Battery Packs
As we have covered in Part 2 of the article, the low energy density of EV batteries, compared to a tank of gas or diesel, forces using big heavy batteries.
EV batteries usually are around half a ton, but can exceed one ton, for some of the most energy voracious models, such as the Hummer EV, the Cadillac Escalade IQ, and the Tesla CyberTruck.
Here are some estimates from insideevs.com for the much awaited CyberTruck, which is expected to feature a battery pack of some 3,100 lbs, i.e. 1.4 Ton, i.e. 3 times more than a regular EV!
As we already stressed, this trend towards heavy EVs will not save any CO2 emissions.
The proper response to the CO2 issue (assuming it is an issue, as discussed in Part 1), is to have lighter vehicles, not heavy ones. And to use high efficiency ICE engines rather than electric motorization requiring massive batteries.
Increasing ranges using larger and larger batteries is clearly problematic because of the increased energy consumption caused by the added weight to the vehicle.
Let’s also remember that, as discussed in parts 1 and 2, EV batteries have terrible environmental and social impacts, especially associated with the mining of cobalt, lithium and other minerals.
How Many Recharging Stations?
The limited range of EVs, and the long charging times, even with super chargers, when compared to fueling an ICE vehicle, have implications not only for the electric grids, that will typically require major upgrades, but in terms of the infrastructures needed for charging an increasing number of EVs.
Think about this. You need about 5 times the amount of time to charge an EV compared to fueling an ICE vehicle. And you have a range that is reduced by a factor of between 2 and 3.
Therefore, you may need … 10 to 15 more charging spots, in the cities, along the motorways, etc.
All of this, to achieve zero gain in terms of CO2 emissions, compared to a scenario where highly efficient ICE powered cars would be incentivized, rather than EVs.
And all these charging needs do generate considerable “waste time” which, as we discussed in Part 1 of the article, should instead be minimized.
With their EV fantasies, governments waste not only your money but also your time.
More problems related to range may be added …
But this may be a good start for understanding the issues at stake.
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