It’s every electric car owner’s nightmare: getting stranded on the road with a dead battery and not a charging station in sight. Thankfully, this “range anxiety” is something that can be quelled with a little forethought and planning.
Before you buy an electric car, do some serious research on its battery capacity. Measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh), this is the number that can help you determine the car’s range on a full charge. There is a huge range in kWh among batteries – from less than 20 to around 100.
There are a few things to remember, though. An electric vehicle battery will never charge to 100 percent and will never discharge completely in order to extend battery life and improve efficiency. That means you will not have access to the entirety of a battery’s potential capacity.
To get a better picture of the real capacity of the battery, take a look at its estimated range provided by the Environmental Protection Agency at fueleconomy.gov. All electric vehicles are laboratory tested to determine the range of a fully charged battery.
You Play a Part
Although electric vehicles are tested in various simulated road conditions, actual conditions can greatly affect a car’s range. Similar to fuel economy in a gas-powered car, heavy acceleration, high speeds, air conditioner use and added cargo consume more energy. Also, weather extremes can have a negative impact on a battery’s performance and overall lifespan.
Check the Warranty
We all know that electric car batteries are expensive to replace, ranging from around $5,000 to over $10,000. Thankfully, federal regulations require that EV batteries be covered under a warranty of at least eight years or 100,000 miles. If you are buying used, you benefit from the warranty that remains. Some manufacturers offer more generous warranties than what is required, so it helps to be aware of your coverage.
The life of the battery can vary as well. It’s a good idea to do some research and look at consumer reports before you buy. Something to consider is that shorter-range cars that require more frequent charging may lose battery capacity more quickly and may need to have that battery replaced sooner.