Range Limitations that aren’t a Limitation

So far the main killer of electric cars in the minds of people seems to be two things: they have a shorter range and they take longer to charge. A few other issues might be the lack of charging locations (even though you can charge at home) and uncertainty in the hardware of the vehicle, battery degradation being one of them. The first two seem the most important and the longer charging time is effectively a limitation on the range of the vehicle so it nearly all boils down to the fact that electric cars can’t drive as far as gasoline cars.

Gasoline cars have a nearly unlimited range. A car with a full tank of gas can drive anywhere from 300-600 miles (usually) and even once that is exhausted, filling the tank up is at most a ten minute process.

400 Miles
I once drove the Saturn 400 miles on a single tank of gas!

You can extend the range of your car whenever you need it! When thinking of car range most think of it in gasoline terms where you can go anywhere you want. Obviously this isn’t the case with electric cars and the thought of only being able to drive 50-90 miles every day is insane to the gasoline vehicle owner. I think many give up on electrics by not knowing how far they really do drive daily.


42 miles? That’s it?

I complained here about people not have a clear number on their vehicle’s gas mileage and stressed that good numbers and data are, well, good! The same goes with how far you drive. By keeping good mileage records you also get a very good idea about how far you really drive. From that post you might recall we owned a Chevy Cavalier and a Saturn SL2. According to my data for 2016 the Cavalier was driven 3,600 miles and the Saturn was also driven 3,600 miles (a strange coincidence).

…I love numbers and data.

Those cars were driven in an alternating manner; we used both cars as “fuel efficient errand and work cars” switching from car to car so they both were used. Our total mileage was 7,200 miles. If you divide by the amount of days in a year (365) you arrive at an average of only 20 miles per day! Obviously some days the cars weren’t driven and some days they were driven more, but even if I drove half the days of the year we’d only go about 40 miles. Considering an electric car with a 50-90 miles range, 20-40 miles per day is very doable and perfect for us!


602.9 miles in 21 days (so far in February) is an average of 29 miles per day: exactly where I’d estimate it to be.

Now if you are a commuter that spends hours on the road going to and from work or someone who has a job that requires traveling, an electric car is not for you. My point here is to be reasonable with how much you really drive. Most people think they need a car that can go 500 miles on a single tank when all they do is drive to work and haul kids around. These are the people that electric cars are perfect for and they don’t even know it! If you typically drive 50 miles per day or less think about getting an electric car. If you have a secondary gas car you’re even better off because you can use the gas car for longer drives and the electric for everything else.

Another thing about the “range problem”: it’s getting better. The 50-90 mile range is typical of these first generation electrics and newer cars can go even farther. The 2018 Nissan Leaf has a range of 150 miles, and (somehow) the new Chevy Bolt has a range of 230 miles! These are amazing numbers compared to most electric cars just a few years ago. As time goes on range becomes less of an issue for electric vehicles and may eventually be comparable to gasoline cars.

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