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How much range do you really get out of an electric car?

Volvo EX30

When I ask friends why they're still not ready to switch to an electric car, I find most people have the same answer - range anxiety. Defined as being a driver's fear that they won't have enough battery mileage to reach their destination, range anxiety is a legitimate fear for Australians.

Even when you live in a city like Sydney or Melbourne, it's common for a daily drive to get close to 100 kilometres. And this number would be closer to 200 kilometres if you live regionally or commute to a city from somewhere like the Central Coast or the Mornington Peninsula. If an electric car can only offer 100-200 kilometres in a battery charge, it's completely understandable why some people aren't ready to make the switch.


So, how much range do you really get out of an electric car?

Some mini models designed for city driving like the GWM Ora promise 310km of range, others like the Tesla Model Y promise 533km. Of course, these numbers are based on a best case scenario drive. I've driven about ten or so electric cars in my time and as a general rule, you'll only get about 60% of the range promised - a little more if you know how to drive an electric car efficiently.

But there are definitely exceptions and it does vary wildly from car to car. I drove a recently released fully electric (and rather pricey) car and was disappointed to find I got about 200km of the promised 450km of range. But then there are others, like the Volvo EX30 which punches firmly above its weight.

The newest car to the Volvo line-up is the compact SUV EX30. It's a sleek daily driver, with a list of luxury features that's rather impressive given it's the brand's entry-level electric option. But heated seats, sound bars and electric lumbar support all mean nothing unless you can decent mileage from the battery. Volvo invests heavily in its battery technology, and is known to be one of the best performers in this area, so I decided to put this car to the test.

I charged the car up to full and then picked the worst possible conditions, a bitterly-cold day (since EV batteries perform less efficiently in colder temperatures) and a drive from the Northern Beaches to the Central Coast in stop-start traffic after an earlier incident on the highway. It's enough to cut any battery promise in half.



A trip up to Burnt Honey Bakery in Copacabana usually takes about an hour and 20 minutes but it took well over two as we sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic from the Hawkesbury River bridge and all the way up the punishing hill at Mt White. After we arrived in Copacabana and downed a quick snack, I drove it to McMasters for a short walk, and then took the car to Terrigal where I stopped in for lunch. Finally, it was time to make the 90-minute journey home.


How did it perform?

I had the twin motor iteration which promises roughly 460km of range. My four hours and 46 minutes of driving time covered 216km and used 65% of the battery. After absolutely punishing this poor battery, I still came home with 34% or 176km. I could have gotten a wildly impressive 390km out of this battery charge. Or, if I'd kept driving it in the same horrible conditions, I still would have pushed to 330km.




Sadly, not all electric cars will perform like the EX30. The answer to the eternal range question will never be clear cut. It will always vary widely from vehicle-to-vehicle and from season-to-season.

If you are in the market for an electric car, the best thing you can do is take you desired model for a test drive. If you notice your battery dropping too quickly for your driving style, it might not be the model for you. And know that if you do have range concerns, there are cars out there like the EX30 that can offer you around 400km, even if you're driving in less than ideal conditions.

You just need to find the one.


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