Worried about keeping an electric car charged? Studies show that range fear is keeping many people from renting electric vehicles (EVs). How far can electric cars go on a full charge? Today, most new electric cars can travel about 250 to 350 miles on a single charge. And some can go more than 400 miles per charge. And EV ranges are getting longer all the time. For example, Toyota is developing battery-powered vehicles with a range of about 620 miles, to arrive in 2026.
I recently took a 5,000-mile road trip across four states in rented electric cars, and can attest that EVs have come a long way in terms of range capabilities.
Thinking of renting an electric car? Multiple factors will determine how much range you need, including the type of trip and the availability of chargers throughout your region.
Only a few years ago, there were only a handful of electric car models available to rent. Nowadays, however, there are more than three dozen EV models. Many are offered with a choice of battery capacity, ranging from 100 miles per charge to more than 500 miles.
How Much Range Do You Need on your EV?
Your mileage needs will vary depending on the kind of trip you’re taking. If you are going to sightsee in one destination, you may only need a range of 150 miles or so. But if you’re taking an extensive road trip, you will want an EV with considerably longer range. Before renting an electric car, think through your approximate daily needs to determine whether you need a long-range electric car.
Also consider both climate and season, since driving in very hot or very cold temperatures can affect range. Freezing ambient temperatures can sap as much as 25% of an EV’s rated range according to an Idaho National Labs study. Cranking the heater can sap range by as much as 41% according to a 2019 AAA study, while blasting air conditioning on a hot day can reduce an EV’s range by as much as 17%.
Find Your EV Battery Sweet Spot
Generally, you never want your EV’s battery charge to drain all the way to zero. Most lithium-ion batteries have a sweet spot, usually between 10% and 80% charged, where they run optimally.
Have a Charging Strategy for Your EV Road Trip
The next thing to think about is how often you’ll be able to charge. Depending on where you are traveling, high-speed DC fast charging stations and Tesla Superchargers are often available at frequent and regular intervals along major interstate routes. Major supermarket and hotel chains often provide electric chargers for their customers’ use. In other words, finding a charger isn’t as problematic as it once was.
How quickly your EV can recharge is just as important as range. For example, a long-range Kia EV6 has a range of around 274 miles at full charge, but it’s one of the fastest charging EVs in its category at around 233 kW. That means you could go from San Francisco to Los Angeles with only two 20-minute stops. Longer range would mean fewer stops, but you might want to stop for food and short stroll every two or three hours anyway.
Sample of Electric Cars and Their Ranges
All the major car rental companies now offer electric cars, but their fleets vary considerably. Here are some examples of models that you might be offered.
Tesla Model S: The Tesla Model S is known for its exceptional range capabilities. A Model S variant equipped with the Long Range Battery offers an impressive range of approximately 370 miles (595 kilometers) on a single charge. This extensive range makes it an ideal choice for long-distance trips or daily commuting without the need for frequent charging stops.
Tesla Model 3: The regular base Tesla Model 3 has a range of 272 miles (438 kilometers). The long-range model has a capability of approximately 333 miles (536 kilometers) on a single charge, making it a solid choice for most road trips.
Nissan Leaf: As one of the most popular electric cars on the market, the Nissan Leaf has undergone significant advancements in recent years. The latest model boasts a range of up to 226 miles (364 kilometers) on a single charge. This range comfortably covers most daily driving needs, making the Leaf an excellent option for urban and suburban environments.
Chevrolet Bolt EV: With a range of around 259 miles (417 kilometers), the Chevrolet Bolt EV has gained popularity for its versatility and ability to handle both city driving and longer trips, providing a practical solution for a wide range of drivers.
Audi e-tron: The Audi e-tron, an all-electric luxury SUV, combines cutting-edge technology with a competitive range. It offers an approximate range of 248 miles (399 kilometers) on a full charge. This range, coupled with Audi’s renowned craftsmanship and comfort, makes the e-tron a compelling option for those seeking a premium electric driving experience.
Hyundai Kona Electric: The Hyundai Kona Electric is a compact SUV that delivers an exceptional range for its segment. It has a range of up to 258 miles (415 kilometers), making it a viable choice for those seeking a versatile and efficient electric vehicle that can handle daily commutes and weekend adventures alike.