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EV Range Claims and the Real World

About BEV range: A few thoughts to consider:

(1) When considering BEV range, you must de-rate the claimed range by 40% for your routine daily travels to protect the battery from over/under charging. You shouldn’t charge it above 80% or discharge below 20% as far as possible.

Therefore, that 238 mile range is really ~140 miles in routine daily use.

(2) Use of energy for comfort detracts from range. Heating and AC are not free. On a hot or cold day, that range can drop another 10-15%. So, now we have ~120 miles of range.

(3) As the batteries age, their range degrades a bit, again depending on many variables, including how many times you charge above 80% or run it below 20%. After a year or two, we are down to, what, 110 miles? 100 miles? YMMV...

(4) Public charging infrastructure, other than Tesla’s, is woefully inadequate, and will remain so for many years. Even if you find a working charger, when you need one, their electricity is expensive. Thus, EV owners prefer, and should, charge at home, at night, in their garage as much as possible. Therefore, we need a practical range that is greater than one’s routine driving needs. You can meet occasional, non-routine, extraordinary needs by charging on the road at a public EV charger, assuming one is available, or encroaching on that 20% margin at each end of the cycle—but encroaching on the margins reduces battery life, so spending a while at a public EV charger is the wiser choice, if you can afford the time.

(5) In normal usage, you charge the car at home, in your garage, at night, when the electricity rates are lowest. But there’s a funny thing about nighttime energy in many places, especially in California—there’s no solar, and most of the time, little wind. Burning fossil fuels, mainly natural gas, supplies our night time base-load electricity. For 2021, natural gas supplied over 50% of CA electricity, and was the dominant source at night, along with a smidgen of coal, oil, hydro, and nuclear. (About 6.2% was hydro, and 8.5% nuclear.) Therefore, most EV charging is with electricity generated mainly from {GASP!!} fossil fuels. Green lifestyle?

Practical range (as opposed to the manufacturer’s claimed range) is what we need for our daily drive. If you need more than about 100 miles per routine active day, then you must buy a much larger battery than one rated for barely 100 miles. Thus, the 238 mile battery is well justified.

I can’t speak for others’ needs, but living in the SF Bay Area, I find a 238 mile range battery works well. This allows for necessary daily travel around the area for business and personal needs. For the rare occasional extended driving requirement, I can charge to 100% and run it lower than 20%, or if necessary, stop at a public charger for a 20-minute quick boost. Anything less simply would not do!

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