Worries about how far an electric vehicle can are prevalent among potential EV buyers. Range anxiety emerges when potential buyers base their purchase on the longest trip they can imagine taking, not on how an EV might fit into their actual driving habits. But range anxiety is on the decline as EVs become more common and their range increases. Learning about how EV range is determined and how drivers can maximize their range makes some of that anxiety go away.
Determining EV Range
In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) evaluates the driving range of electric vehicles. In Europe, the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) has been used since late 2017, replacing the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) test, which was criticized for over-estimating real-world ranges.
The EPA's test involves using a dynamometer (or “dyno”) to test vehicles—essentially a treadmill upon which EPA testers attempt to simulate real-world driving conditions. The vehicle is fully charged overnight, then driven in succeeding simulations of city driving and highway driving until the battery is drained and the wheels stop moving. Because the test is conducted at room temperature in a closed environment, the dyno's readout of the number of miles driven is then multiplied by 0.7 to give a more realistic estimate of a vehicle's range.
The EPA issues estimates for city driving and highway driving, then creates a combined estimate based on 45% city driving and 55% highway driving. The final range is meant to “reflect the values that customers can expect to achieve in the real world,” meaning EPA's estimate depends on their assumptions about how the average car is driven, atmospheric temperature, road conditions, routes, driving patterns, and other factors.
Europeans tend to spend more time commuting on city streets rather than on highways, so the WLTP emphasizes urban and suburban driving more than the EPA does. Rather than extrapolating based on laboratory testing, the WLTP relies on real-world driving data from around the world. It tests vehicles at four different speeds and in a variety of driving conditions. Because electric vehicles are more efficient in city driving than on highways, WLTP ranges tend to be longer than the EPA's.
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