The Basics of EVs
How Much EV Range Do I Need?
How Much EV Range Do I Need?

How Much EV Range Do I Need?

Determining how much range you need in an EV can be tricky. It's not just adding up the mileage you drive, although that's a start.

If you've read our other articles on the things that can impact your EV's available range, and how critical it is to choose the right EV, you may be left wondering just how much range you should choose when shopping for an EV. After all, bigger batteries are expensive and so it's not always feasible to just buy the biggest battery you can (although, if you can afford to do that, we recommend it).

Let's start with the number of miles you actually drive on your busiest days. You can figure this number out by either tracking your mileage as you go about your day, or by using a mapping tool to measure distances between the places you might travel on your busiest days.

For example, let's say the number that you need is 100 miles.

Extreme Weather Adjustment

If you live in a very cold climate, we've discussed that this can impact your available range by more than 50%. You'd need a vehicle with 200 miles of range to drive the full 100 miles that you need.

(50% of 200 miles = 100 miles)

Degradation Protection

If you plan to keep your car for more than a few years, factor in some anticipated degradation by increasing your mileage by 10%-15%. This increases your range need to 235 miles.​

15% of 235 miles = 35 miles

Vampire Drain

If your car has a lot of connected features, you may want to add an additional 10% range to accommodate for power lost while the car is sitting unused. Now we're up to 261 miles.

10% of 261 miles = 26 miles

If you answered yes to all of these adjustments, the minimum range you'd want to look for is approximately 261 miles. Keep in mind this is just an estimate, and a rough one at that - but that's a very different number than the 100 miles you may have thought you needed when we started. ​

Everything else

Finally, consider the following questions:

  • Will my car often be packed full of people or stuff?
  • Will I add exterior accessories like bike racks of rooftop tents?
  • Do I live in a mountainous area, with a lot of elevation change?
  • Will I use this vehicle for towing on my busy days?
  • Do I drive in excess of 65 mph regularly?
  • Do I have a lead foot?

OK, that's a lot of math. We've created a Range Estimator to do this for you.

Keep in mind, we can't guarantee that these estimates will be accurate, as every car and every situation will be unique. But knowing that these factors exist will help you better consider what your needs may actually be.

And what happens if this number is more than the range available in the EV you want or can afford? Well that just means you'll need to charge on-the-go. It becomes extra important to choose a car with DC Fast charging and a speedy charge rate (ideally 150 kW or above). You'll also want to use an app like PlugShare or Chargeway to make sure you have compatible DC Fast charging stations in the places that are convenient for you. If there are no convenient stations, you may want to consider a hybrid instead. If there are, you'll want to note which type of connector those stations are (CCS, Tesla, CHAdeMO) and ensure the car that you choose is compatible.

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