For Electric Vehicles, How Much Range Is Enough?
Electric vehicle ranges have reached new heights. When will it be enough?
At the end of October, a small group of customers took delivery of the very first production units of the Lucid Air, a luxurious electric sedan (pictured above).
Headed by former Tesla engineer Peter Rawlinson, Lucid finally achieved their years-long journey of bringing the Air to market. Many features set it apart — it has more than 1,100 horsepower, it can compete with top supercars off the line, and the reclining back-seat is reminiscent of a Rolls Royce (a slight exaggeration, perhaps).
But more than anything, the incredible range caught headlines. While range varies somewhat by trim, the best version can go an incredible 520 miles (836 km) per charge. This range blew away the long-range Tesla Model S, which previously held the record at 405 miles.
Even longer ranges could be coming — the much-delayed Tesla Roadster promises 620 miles, or 1000 km, of range.
The Importance Of Range
In the early days of electric vehicles, some supporters argued that long ranges weren’t necessary for electric cars. After all, data from the Department of Transportation indicates that an average driver covers just 37 miles per day. Therefore, even a range of 100 miles should cover the daily needs of most drivers.
This argument made sense in theory, but failed to live up to real-world scrutiny. In reality, people don’t drive an identical amount each day. Sometimes they drive less (or none), sometimes they drive more, and on occasion, they drive much more. A vehicle that can get you to your destination and back 80% of the time won’t suffice.
Thus, automakers quickly realized that few consumers were willing to purchase short-range vehicles. Meanwhile, long-range vehicles, such as those from Tesla, flourished.
New electric models are offering increasingly long ranges — 250 to 300+ miles is now commonplace. But as ranges have neared those of their gas counter-parts, automakers are now grappling with an entirely new question.
How much is too much?