Electric cars: How far does one euro get you?

With prices of two euros and more for a liter of fuel, more and more people in Germany are wondering: should my next new car perhaps be an electric car? The range of e-vehicles in all price segments is growing continuously, and new models are added almost weekly. But despite all the enthusiasm for the electric driving experience, Germany’s drivers are still skeptical about one thing: What about the range? And do I automatically have to pay more for more range? Or are less expensive models perhaps better when it comes to their range because they are generally smaller and lighter? JATO Dynamics took a closer look at the range of e-cars on offer and calculated the range in relation to the purchase price.

The range according to WLTP* of battery electric vehicles (BEV) offered on the German market varies between 129 and 507 kilometers (km) for volume models and between 293 and 661 km in the premium segment (as of April 2022). But does driving further automatically mean spending more on the car? The cheapest way to drive a BEV at the moment is the Dacia Spring. According to the list, it costs 21,515 euros and its range is 230 km. The two models from Smart (Forfour/Fortwo) are similar for 22,600 and 23,570 euros, respectively, and the e.Go Life. The Life, which was developed at RWTH Aachen University, costs 25,230 euros. But what can you expect for these prices? Is one battery charge just enough to cover the average distance Germans drive each day, namely around 40 km?

Small electric cars are not automatically cheap

The two-door Life still can manage more than three times that (130 km). Smarts models also get this far with 129 and 132 km respectively. The Dacia gets up to 230 km. This means that the Romanian doesn’t even cost 94 euros/km. The Smarts cost 175 and 179 euros/km and the e.GO costs 191 euros/km. Even Renault’s Twingo, Dacia’s corporate brother, which is also available for just over 25,000 euros, has a range of 199 kilometers. This means that the small French car costs 135 euros/km. However, Renault’s Zoe with a range of 388 km shows that it is also possible to drive a subcompact car much more cheaply. This means that the most popular e-car in Germany for a long time only costs a good 91 euros/km. Renault’s BEV models together average at about 104 euros/km.

But is this already the lowest level for volume models, or can it be even cheaper? Which model is the price-performance winner here? And does it automatically come from the brand with the best cost/range ratio? To make a long story short: The winner is another eleven euros per kilometer cheaper than the Zoe. Only 80 euros are charged for a kilometer of range with the VW ID.3. The electric bestseller in the Golf class manages between 419 and 549 km on one battery charge, depending on the variant. That’s an average of 507 km for all three models on offer. The price across all variants is just under 40,700 euros (37,000-42,600). The toughest competitor to the ID. 3 is the Ioniq from Hyundai. It costs around 35,000 euros and thus averages 86 euros/km.

Minibuses offer the worst cost-range ratio

But does that make Volkswagen the most affordable brand? No. That honor goes to Cupra. The Cupra Born costs 40,040 euros and manages 464 kilometers. That’s also 86 euros/km. Volkswagen, on the other hand, achieves an average range of 464 km with its ID.3, ID.4, ID.5 and Up models. That  makes 93 euros/km. And who is at the other end of the ranking? The most expensive volume model is currently the Opel Zafira at 251 euros/km, ahead of the Toyota Proace Verso at 247 euros/km and the Citroen Spacetourer at 230 euros/km. However, these are three minivans suitable for families, i.e. large and heavy vehicles with plenty of space. Incidentally, the average of all volume models is currently 324 km range and a price of just under 45,000 euros. That’s almost 139 euros/km.

And what about premium vehicles? Do we generally have to assume more than 100 euros/km here, or is there actually also something cheaper? The most expensive model on the German market is the Porsche Taycan for 134,350 euros with a range of 451 km. That means 298 euros/km. Porsche is also the brand with the most expensive cost-range ratio, and the Taycan is the only model so far.

Its corporate brother, the Audi E-Tron GT, is a bit cheaper at 256 euros/km. This still costs a good 120,000 euros with a slightly longer range than Porsche (471 km). The Mercedes EQV follows in third place with a price/performance ratio of 239 euros/km. However, the Mercedes EQV plays in a different league; it is more of a competitor to the Opel Zafira, Toyota Proace Verso and Citroen Spacetourer mentioned above. It only costs a good 70,000 euros, but buyers have to be satisfied with lower ranges (293 km on average).

Mercedes is range winner

The top e-car from Mercedes costs an average of 123,000 euros, but it has the longest range of all BEVs currently on sale in Germany. On average, you can drive a full 661 kilometers on one battery charge – and in the top version you can even drive an incredible 766 kilometers. Goodbye range anxiety! The EQS costs 186 euros/km. Polestar shows that a car from the premium segment can also be more affordable. Volvo’s luxury electric brand benefits from the know-how of Chinese carmaker Geely. The Polestar 2 costs just under 49,000 euros and travels almost 500 km (474-542 km). That makes a price of 97 euros/km. This makes the elegant Swede the cheapest luxury e-car and puts it on a par with Volkswagen’s ID.5 or the U5 from Chinese manufacturer Aiways. Above all, the Polestar has a much more favorable cost-range ratio than numerous volume models.

And where does Tesla stand? The much-vaunted brand from the U.S., currently the world’s most valuable automaker, averages 149 euros/km with its four models. The entry-level Model 3 costs just under 58,000 euros and offers an average range of 547 km. This gives the Model 3 a price per kilometer of 105 euros, which is still a real bargain in the premium segment. The average value of all premium models is a good 84,000 euros purchase price and a range of 459 km. That makes almost 184 euros/km.

* The Worldwide harmonized Light vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP for short) is the measurement procedure officially valid in Germany for determining exhaust emissions (pollutants and CO2 emissions) and fuel/electricity consumption of motor vehicles.

More information on JATO can be found here.

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