“How far does your car go between charges?” It is without doubt the first question anyone showing the slightest interest in EVs asks.

Car manufacturers tend to quote NEDC figures (New European Driving Cycle), but these are rarely achievable. They are laboratory conditions and do not take account of a whole range of important factors from the real world such as driving style, speed, road conditions, topography and temperature (time of year – batteries perform less well in the cold conditions). It’s many of the same things that affect fuel consumption in traditional cars, no surprises… but in an EV with that range figure jumping out of you from the dashboard it all becomes more real.

My frustration is that whenever I am asked about car range I have to make excuses…

“Officially 250 miles, but in the real world…”

This puts me on the back foot. It immediately weakens all the arguments in favour of EVs. I find myself almost apologising, qualifying the figures.

“That’s laboratory figures, you need to take them with a pinch of salt – for 250 miles you can realistically expect 180.”

And there we are. I can almost hear the reply…

“Oh really? So what else is not all it is claimed to be?”

Potential convert lost.

It’s actually very difficult to come up with a single number. The same applies for petrol and diesel cars where fuel consumption figures are quoted for different driving conditions – urban, constant 56mph etc. Is it time to do similar with EVs?

But the NEDC figures are not all bad – they do give an excellent comparison between vehicles, and used with the knowledge that they are optimistic we quickly get used to them. As a rough guide reduce them by 25% and you will have a more realistic range figure.

Which (the UK Consumer Association Charity) have tested vehicles and produced a chart showing some real figures. The list is not exhaustive (sorry) but the figures produced look sensible to me.

So what’s the answer? NEDC? NEDC less 30% as a safe bet? Use Which figures? (not possible but they have clearly set some tests which better reflect the real world). New set of tests? What do the guys and girls at OLEV say?

Let me know your thoughts, please.

Until next time…

Richard Seppings