Fear of range increasingly difficult to justify

Germans are beginning to like the electric car. Just recently, the E-Mobility Study 2020 done by the energy provider e.on found out that 64 percent of those surveyed could imagine buying an e-car. That was different not long ago. Of course, also money is a factor, as the increase of incentives provided by the government has certainly contributed to this change of heart. But there were still reasons for not buying an electric car – one of those was the driving-range. Many felt that the battery capacity was not sufficient to meet their personal mobility needs. But is that still a valid point? What is the actual average driving-range of electric vehicles? JATO Dynamics took a closer look at the development since 2016.

At first the driving-range of purely battery-powered passenger cars (BEVs) increased to an average of 377 kilometres in 2019 (mixed calculation of NEDC and WLTP*, taking into account all BEVs available for purchase). This was the highest peak so far, because after that the overall average driving-range declined. Currently, the driving-range average is only 352 km. But what is the reason for this? It’s not as if the driving-range of the vehicles suddenly decreased. Rather, the reason is the growing number of available BEV-Models. And this is mainly driven by an increased offer of vehicles with a medium driving-range of 200 to 400 km, which puts pressure on the average value. In addition, more and more models are specifying their driving-ranges according to WLTP, which also means that the value is somewhat lower than for the old NEDC-values.

57% of all BEVs manage between 200 and 400 kilometres, 28% manage even more

Just four years ago, just under half of the e-cars on offer could only cover a distance of less than 200 kilometres, and only 11 percent were able to cover more than 400 kilometres. In 2017, the number of models with a range of less than 200 km declined, while the number of models with a range of more than 400 km increased. Last year, the share of e-vehicles with a range of 200 – 400 km rose to over 50 percent for the first time and has remained stable since then. This is mainly due to the fact that these vehicles with their somewhat lower battery capacity are cheaper to buy and have the potential to replace previous city cars. And after all, more than a quarter (28 percent) now cover more than 400 km, with just under 15 percent remaining below the 200 km mark. The operating range of the individual vehicles has therefore been continuously improved in recent years.

Take the popular Renault Zoe: in 2016, it still averaged 240 km; today, it is already 376 km. On the long-distance E-Car TESLA Model S, the range has increased from an average of about 480 km to about 650 km today. This means that the range of e-vehicles is constantly increasing. The number of models with a range of less than 200 km is decreasing, while most of them manage between 200 and 400 km and more than a quarter even get further.

For plug-in hybrids (PHEV) the range also increased, but not as much as on BEVs. Nevertheless, the range of available PHEVs has also increased significantly, especially over the last two years.

The long-used argument against the purchase of an electric car, namely that it does not cover long distances, could therefore lose its justification in the foreseeable future. Both, the driving-range and the variety of available e-models in all price classes are constantly growing.

* Deviations compared to data in an earlier article result from the changeover of the calculation from NEDC to WLTP. As more WLTP values were available from Q2 2019 than before, this led to declining average values from Q2 2019.

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