How far can electric vehicles go in one charge? EV battery range explained.

A common question people that are looking to buy an electric vehicle ask themselves is how far can an electric vehicle (EV) go in one charge. In this article we are going to look at electric car battery range and help you work out how much range you will need to confidently make your journeys.  

What is the range of an electric car?

The electric vehicle range is the distance an electric vehicle can travel before the battery runs out. In other words, the distance or kilometres a car can travel in a single charge. It’s important to not confuse it with the lifespan of an EV battery, which we have written about in a previous article which you can find here.

Is range anxiety a real thing in electric cars and vehicles?

A common worry for people when it comes to EVs is whether the battery range will get them to their destination without losing its charge. For EV drivers worrying about whether a battery range is both sufficient and reliable, this is a very real concern. The number of charging points across the country is another issue that can cause anxiety for drivers especially if planning to travel long distances. Although the cost of an EV is a major deciding factor for consumers when it comes to buying an EV, the thought of being stranded if the car battery runs out is also likely to put some people off buying one.

So how can you limit this anxiety and drive safe in the knowledge that you have sufficient battery range and enough charging points available to you to confidently drive your EV?

Before buying an EV, it is a good idea to do your research into not only the vehicle itself, but also the battery range of the car you are thinking of buying.

It's important not to confuse battery range with battery capacity. The battery range is the distance a car can travel before the State of Charge (SoC) reaches 0% at which point the car needs to be charged. 

The battery capacity is the total energy that can be stored in the battery, and the higher the capacity is, the higher the battery range will be.  According to Money Guide Ireland some EVs can travel 500km on a full charge. The Mercedes, Audi and BMW say they have a battery range of over 600km, while the Nissan Leaf can travel 250km with a 30 kWh battery and 378km with a fully charged 40 kWh battery. So, it pays to look at different models and see what their battery range is and whether this will be sufficient for the typical journeys you will take.

Another thing that could reduce range anxiety is knowing where EV chargers are on your driving routes.

The first national electric vehicle charging infrastructure strategy was launched in 2022 and the plan is to spend €100 million on public charging points for EVs over a three-year period. 

The strategy also aims to deliver a pool of high-powered chargers every 60km on motorways and increase home charging, residential neighbourhood charging, and destination and enroute charging. 

The ESB have a handy charge point map that shows all the EV charge points around the country. This map could be very useful when planning your journeys especially if planning to go long distances or for round trips.

As of today, ESB operates and maintains over 1,500 public charging stations across Ireland. On top of that, private EV charging companies are rising such as EasyGo who manages over 2,400 chargers. 

There are lots of advantages and incentives should you decide to install an EV charger in your home. You can read our blog if you are considering installing an EV charger in your home. We have also covered in another article tips on extending the lifespan of your EV battery, which should give you added confidence when it comes to your battery and its longevity. 

Factors that affect the range of your EV

The size of an Electric Vehicle (EV) battery can impact its range due to energy storage and consumption.

Capacity: The size of an EV battery is typically measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). A larger battery has a higher energy capacity, meaning it can store more electricity. This stored energy is what powers an EV.

Range: The range of an EV is determined by dividing the total energy capacity of the battery (in kWh) by the energy consumption rate of the vehicle in kWh per km.

Energy consumption rate: The energy consumption rate depends on several factors, including the vehicle's efficiency, weight, aerodynamics, driving conditions, and speed. Generally, more efficient EVs consume less energy per km.

A bigger battery can store more energy, which means it can provide power to an EV for a longer period, and as a result, a larger battery can mean the EV can be driven for longer distances before the battery dies. This is particularly beneficial for those who want to take longer trips or have limited access to charging infrastructure.

However, it’s worth noting that larger batteries do have some drawbacks:

  • Cost: Bigger batteries are more expensive to manufacture, which can make the overall cost of the EV higher.
  • Weight: Larger batteries are heavier, which can reduce the vehicle's overall efficiency.
  • Charging time: Charging a larger battery takes longer compared to a smaller one, especially if you're using standard charging infrastructure.
  • Environmental impact: Manufacturing and disposing of larger batteries can have a greater environmental impact due to the use of rare materials and energy-intensive production processes.

Manufacturers aim to strike a balance between battery size, cost, weight, and range to meet the needs of various consumers. As battery technology advances, EVs with smaller, more energy-dense batteries may still achieve significant ranges, making EVs more accessible and practical for a wider range of users.

How much range do you actually need?

The range you need for your EV in Ireland, depends on your specific driving habits, daily commute, and personal preferences. Here are some factors to consider when determining the range that suits your needs:

  • Daily Commute: Calculate the distance you typically drive each day for your work commute or daily activities. Make sure your EV's range comfortably covers this distance. Most daily commutes are well within the range of newer models of EVs.
  • Occasional longer trips: Consider whether you frequently take longer trips or weekend getaways. If so, you'll want an EV with a range that can accommodate these trips without frequent charging stops. Many newer EV models offer ranges that can handle longer journeys.
  • Charging infrastructure: Having reliable access to charging stations can mitigate concerns about range. In Ireland there has been a big push on expanding the charging network, making it more convenient for EV owners.
  • Seasonal conditions: Keep in mind that extreme weather conditions, particularly cold winters, can reduce the range of an EV due to increased energy consumption for heating. If you live in an area with harsh winters, consider a vehicle with a slightly larger range.
  • Driving efficiency: Your driving style and efficiency can impact your EV's range. Efficient driving habits, such as smooth acceleration and regenerative braking, can help maximise your range.
  • Reserve range: Some EV owners prefer to have a buffer or reserve range beyond their daily needs for unexpected situations or emergencies, which can provide peace of mind.
  • Budget: Your budget is a critical factor. EVs with longer ranges often come with larger and more expensive battery packs. Determine what you can comfortably afford.

To determine the specific range you need, consider your daily driving patterns, the availability of charging infrastructure, and your budget. You may find that many modern EVs offer the range required for typical use in Ireland, especially in urban areas. However, it's always a good idea to research the latest EV models and their ranges before making a purchase.

At Zurich we provide electric and hybrid car insurance that recognises the additional needs of EV car owner. If you own an electric or plug-in hybrid car, you can avail of specialist breakdown assistance, along with an excellent claims service and peace of mind that you’re protected in the event that something happens.

About: How can we better discover our world?

No matter where you are travelling to in your car, your car and protecting those in it will be the most important element of the journey. Car insurance is a legal requirement in Ireland and having your car insured with Zurich Insurance gives you peace of mind that should the worst happen such as a breakdown, you are protected. Our car insurance also has many great benefits depending on the cover you choose.

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