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How important is range for Electric Vehicles moving forward?

In the current electric vehicle market, car companies have been fighting to increase range and decrease battery time more than anything else. Making an EV is easy, but making one that can travel up to 200 miles or more is not easy and is the main goal of almost every single EV manufacturer on the market. A range of 200 miles seems to be the number that will end customer’s range anxiety and the number that automakers are shooting for.

Chevrolet and Tesla both have vehicles that boast a 200 mile pure electric range, with the Bolt and Model S, respectively. But companies like BMW and Nissan are still trying to catch up, as the BMW i3 only has a pure electric range of 80 miles and the new 2016 Nissan Leaf boasts a 107 mile range claim. This is significantly below the 200 mile sweet spot that so many automakers are looking for, but both companies have different views about it.

Tesla Model S P85D
Tesla Model S P85D

According to Nissan’s director of product planning, Ken Kcomp, “We are very aware of what’s happening in the market,” However, Kcomp seems to feel as if the 200 mile mark isn’t exactly necessary, but does acknowledge that the Leaf’s range does need to increase. “Nissan is developing longer range batteries.”

BMW, on the other hand, is completely happy with the range of its i3 and is sticking with its current formula.”I question the race to the 200-mile electric car,” said Jose Guerrero, head product manager of electric vehicles. According to Guerrero, it’s not necessarily about outright range, but how efficient a vehicle is within its range. For instance, the BMW i3 has by far and away the smallest battery of all of the aforementioned vehicles, but it achieves a similar range to the Leaf because of its lightweight construction and emphasis on efficiency. So, making the most out of the battery is BMW’s main goal. Also, according to Guerrero, the BMW i3 isn’t designed to be a long-distance cruiser but a city car instead, so that sort of range isn’t something the BMW is looking to achieve.

Audi e-tron quattro concept
Audi e-tron quattro concept

However, Audi is looking to stand out among the crowd, by offering a fully electric SUV that boasts a further range than all of the aforementioned vehicles while also being extremely lightweight, efficient and dynamic — The Audi e-tron Quattro. The Audi e-tron Quattro will admittedly use a bigger battery than the rest of the vehicles’ 60 kWh batteries, as it will have a 95 kWh battery. However, it’s lightweight construction and advanced chassis technology will allow it to achieve a claimed range of 310 miles, crushing the competition. Audi is also claiming drastically reduced charge times and dynamic handling. In a way, it combines a bit of both philosophies, taking the massive battery and range philosophy from Tesla and GM as well as the lightweight and efficient philosophy from BMW.

It’s interesting to see the differences in view from each automaker and the different way they’re approaching EVs. Some companies prioritize range and battery size, while others may prioritize lightweight efficiency. Audi seems to be blending the idea of both and it seems as if it will pay off, as the Audi e-tron Quattro has the furthest claimed range and shortest recharge times. We’ll see if Audi is in the right when the e-tron Quattro finally debuts in 2018.

[Source: Popular Mechanics]
Nico DeMattia

I've been in love with cars since I was a kid, specifically German cars. Now I get to drive them talk about them on the internet.