Today, Wednesday 9 September, marks World EV Day. It’s a new annual event promoting the benefits of electric cars, with governments, manufacturers and industry pledging commitments to zero-emission vehicles.
But amidst the day’s announcements and hyperbole, what drivers really want to know is which are the best EVs they can purchase right now.
This is Money has listed the 10 battery electric models available in the UK with the longest ‘official’ ranges. But we’ll also tell you how far some of these cars can travel in the real world and how rapidly their batteries will degrade after a year of use.
We’ve ordered the 10 rangiest of electric models by their official figures. These are the ones based on the results of laboratory readings and are quoted by manufacturers when advertising their cars.
However, we’ll tell you how far you can realistically drive them on a full charge using the What Car? Real Range measurement, which is a repeated test on closed roads to give consumers a more achievable distance target.
And we’ve also tapped into Geotab’s EV Battery Degradation Tool, which assess the average depletion in capacity of electric vehicle batteries over time. The US firm’s analysis is based on 6,300 fleet and consumer EV and says that, on average, plug-in models lose around 2 per cent battery capacity in the first year.
Not all the models in this top 10 list have been tested and reviewed by these two measures, but it will give an indication of what you to expect…
The Audi e-tron is a large SUV with an official 239-mile range. Costing just over £60,000, it’s not cheap – even by electric car standards. However, it does have the premium interior and quality of materials you’d expect from the German brand.
The manufacturer claims a single charge will allow owners to cover up to 239 miles. However, What Car?’s test found that the distance on a full battery was 196 miles – some 44 miles (18 per cent) short of the claims.
Geotabs has yet to review this model for battery degradation.
The Nissan Leaf creeps into the top 10 with the pricier ‘e+’ version, which offers an extended range over the standard model – though at a £5,000 premium for the extra miles.
The family hatchback, which is built in the UK at the Sunderland plant, has an official range of 239 miles, but in What Car?’s test was measured to be 217 miles (down 9 per cent). That’s still pretty impressive for an electric car – especially the cheapest model to feature in our list – and the real world figure is higher than other EVs here that claim to match or beat it.
Geotab says the average conventional Leaf loses 3.2 per cent of its battery capacity after one year, though it hasn’t tested the rangier e+ version.
Like the Audi e-tron, the Mercedes-Benz EQC is a large SUV offering zero-emission driving to families. It’s also on the expensive side, feels premium and is crammed with the latest gizmos you’d expect from a £65,000 electric car.
Like many of the models in this list, the EQC kicks off a dedicated electric-only car range for the brand, with the EQ moniker used for all future battery Mercedes vehicles.
The tested range, according to What Car?, is 208 miles. That’s down 20 per cent on the 259 official figure. Geotabs hasn’t reviewed the EQC yet.
The ID.3 is the latest electric car to hit the UK market, with first deliveries arriving just last week. Those models are the 1st Edition cars, which buyers were able to pre-order a year ago to guarantee one of the earliest delivery slots.
More variants will arrive next year, but the 1st Edition ID.3 signals the huge electric-car assault being prepared by VW in the coming years, with cheaper versions of the hatchback incoming and dragging the price of this EV closer to cars with internal combustion engines.
The ID.3 is so new that no additional range tests or battery degradation analysis has been conducted.
There are two versions of the Kona Electric – this one being the higher capacity 64kWh example.
This rangier model is £4,000 more than the reduced mileage 39kWh variant, but for it is worth the additional cash for the extended range alone.
While the official range is 278 miles, when What Car? tested the Kona Electric it managed 259 miles on a full charge. That’s very impressive and the smallest shortfall from the official figure in our top 10, down just 7 per cent. Geolabs hasn’t reviewed this car yet.
The Hyundai Kona Electric and this Kia e-Niro share the same battery and motor setup offering a choice of two battery capacities. The Kia placed in fifth spot is based on the claimed range for its larger 64kWh version.
Despite sharing powertrains, the e-Niro has a longer official range by 4 miles. However, when What Car? tested it, it found that the real-world figure was lower than the sister car, achieving just 253 miles (down 10 per cent).
As far as a reasonably priced electric family car option goes, this should be near the top of shopping lists.
Jaguar’s first electric car is a seriously good one and is proving hugely popular among early EV adopters.
It’s classy, packed with performance, comfortable and – most importantly – capable of taking up to five adults on a relatively long journey. The I-Pace is so good in fact that it racked up a raft of awards last year, including the inaugural World Car of the Year for 2019.
While it has a claimed range of 292 miles, it is a match for the Kia e-Niro with 253 miles – which is 13 per cent down on claims. This is a car Geotabs is yet to provide data for.
This is where the Tesla dominance starts in this list, proving that the US car maker is streaks ahead of its rivals when it comes to electric car capabilities.
The Model X is the largest car it sells, being a crossover between an MPV and SUV with heavy ‘Falcon-Wing’ rear doors. All this weight limits the driving range, which for the most impressive variant is a claimed 314 miles in the Long Range Model X, powered by the firm’s latest 100kW battery.
What Car? hasn’t tested the latest Long Range version, but did measure the older 100D variant with the same battery capacity and found it could cover just 233 miles. Geotabs says the average Model X in 2018 lost 1.3 per cent battery capacity after a year.
The second Tesla in the list is the smallest in the range, the Model 3. This compact executive saloon offers a more affordable route into Tesla ownership – but the Long Range version still only marginally slips into the eligible price point for the Plug-in Car Grant, slipping under the £50,000 restriction by a tenner. It was the UK’s most registered car in April and May this year.
While it promises a decent range on paper, when What Car? tested this 348-mile version it only managed to cover 211 miles fully charged – down almost 40 per cent on the official figure. The £56,490 Model 3 Performance has also been tested by What Car? which had a measured 239-mile range.
It might not be able to match the range claims but it performs better for slow battery degradation, according to Geolabs. 2018 models shed just 0.2 per cent of their capacity after 12 months on average, it said.
The EV on sale in the UK with the longest range is – unsurprisingly – a Tesla. The Model S is the car that pioneered long-distance journeys in a battery vehicle, and it continues to lead the way in 2020. This is based on the impressive 379-mile range of the Long Range 100kW option, which can accelerate from 0 to 60mph in 3.7 seconds (2.7 seconds if you choose the Model S Performance) but does cost north of £75,000.
Roomier than the Model 3 and not as heavy as the Model X, the Model S is the Goldilocks of the Tesla line-up – a long chassis footprint to stores the batteries and no heavy doors weighing it down and limiting performance.
What Car? hasn’t tested a Model S Long Range or any Model S with this battery capacity. On average, batteries in 2018 models degraded by 1.1 per cent in the first year, says Geotabs.
Note: Models with a * next to their price are those that qualify for the Government’s £3,000 Plug-in Car Grant
World EV Day 2020: What has been announced?
Today’s World EV Day marks the first in what is set to become an annual event as part of efforts to promote the benefits of electric car ownership to cut air pollution levels.
With motorists in Britain currently being told they will not be banned from buying new petrol of diesel cars in 2035 – though that deadline could be shortened under current considerations – the sector is trying to raise the profile of EVs for drivers to shift allegiances sooner.
The event has been created by Swedish tech firm ABB and EV-content provider Green.TV with the support of partners, including car makers such as Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Nissan and Polestar.
The 2020 campaign has hosted business and policy events, bringing the world’s e-mobility leaders together to discuss the key narratives driving electrification and sustainable transport forwards. This includes current Transport Minister, Grant Shapps, who today opened the largest EV charging hub at a UK rail station, with 27 Pod Point chargers installed at Hatfield station.
The Government today also used World EV Day to promise increased investment in electric car chargers and the introduction of a number of other EV schemes.
The Department for Transport said it will be considering the proposal to install public charge points at popular destinations and painting green parking spaces to show they are reserved for EVs – following the introduction of green numberplates for battery cars this autumn. The DfT has pledged £12million to boost research and development of EV technologies.
Highways England has also pumped £9.3million to a scheme that will allow businesses to try electric cars and vans for two months for free before deciding to invest in them.
As part of the event, organisers have setup an online pledge campaign for motorists to make a commitment that the next car they drive will be electric. Some 800 motorists from 60 countries had filled it in by midday.