Electric car range: how far can an EV really go on one charge?

19 January 2021 | Aimee Tweedale

If you’re thinking about buying an electric car, you might be wondering how far you can drive it on one charge. After all, no one wants to run out of fuel and get stuck in a layby in the middle of a long journey. 

This worry is commonly known as “range anxiety”. And it’s an understandable fear, as one of the current downsides of electric cars is a lack of charging infrastructure. If you have a hefty commute, or your family lives far away, driving long distances might be an unavoidable part of life. But that doesn’t mean you can’t own an electric car.

Making long journeys in an electric car

Keep reading to find out more about electric car range, which types of EV have the longest lasting batteries, and how to plan a big journey when you’re driving an EV.

Thinking of buying an electric car? Read our article on "Things to consider when buying an electric car" by OVO's resident EV expert, owner and enthusiast, Chris Britton. 

And if you'd like to learn more about electric vans – including benefits, costs, charging, and much more – check out our ultimate guide.

Real world electric car range vs official range: what’s the difference?

Before we get into the distance you can get per charge of your electric vehicle, it’s important to know the difference between “official range” and “real world range”. This is key to understanding how far you can drive in your EV.

“Range” is the distance that an EV can travel on a single battery charge. Here are the 2 key different types of range you will see discussed when you’re looking at buying an electric car.

Official range

The “official range” of an EV is the distance that the manufacturer says their car can drive on a full battery. This is worked out in a lab, according to what’s called Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (or WLTP) rules.

Scientists consider all kinds of factors when they’re coming up with this figure – including different temperatures and driving conditions, and the effect of things like average driving speed. This makes the final estimate more accurate than the old rules – the NEDC, or New European Driving Cycle – which the WLTP replaced in 2018.

Even so, this lab figure is usually higher than the mileage you can expect to get out of your car in the real world. 

Real-world range

“Real-world range” is what EV enthusiasts call the miles you can realistically expect to get out of your electric car. 

It’s usually a bit lower than the WLTP figure, because it can be affected by all kinds of factors. These include:

  • The speed you drive at
  • The weather
  • Driving uphill
  • How hard you accelerate or brake
  • Use of air con/heating
  • The weight inside the car
  • How old your battery is

“Real-world” figures are usually the result of people testing the cars in – you guessed it – the real world. 

Driving an EV

How far can an electric car drive?

The average distance an electric car can go on a single charge is 193 miles1.

As technology has improved, this has increased a lot in recent years. EVs made even just a few years ago in the 2010s were more likely to have a range of 100 miles2 – but these days, electric vehicles can go up to 300 or even 400 miles on a single charge. Which isn’t too different to what you’d expect from a typical petrol car3.

Of course, how far your electric car can drive on a single charge will depend on lots of factors unique to you and your car. Think about things like: How big is your battery? How old is the car? And how fast do you typically drive?

For everything you need to know about charging electric cars, read our handy guide. Plus: read more about the costs of charging, and how much it costs to insure an EV.

If you’re worried about range, it might be worth getting an EV charger installed at home.

And if you're still not sure about the 3 main different charging options for your EV (slow, fast and rapid), check out our blog on the subject.

What is the electric car with the longest range?

Currently, the electric vehicle with the longest range is the almighty Tesla S, which has an official (WLTP) range of 405 miles4. That’s enough to drive from Leeds to Cornwall, with a few miles left over5!

Of course, the real-world range is slightly different. According to Buy A Car and AutoExpress, the Tesla S’s real range is around 320 miles. 

Need an electric car that can handle long commutes, but can’t find a spare £80,000 down the back of the sofa for a Tesla S? These more affordable cars might be a better option. 

Electric carOfficial range
Hyundai Kona Electric300 miles
Kia e-Nero282 miles
Mercedes-Benz EQC255 miles
Nissan Leaf e+239 miles
Hyundai IONIQ193 miles
Volkswagen e-Golf144 miles

How to plan a long journey in an electric car

While the electric car industry is still growing, charge points aren’t always super-easy to find. That’s why it’s crucial to do some planning before you set off on a very long journey, so you won’t be left in the lurch if you need some extra juice!

First of all, get a good idea of the real-world range of your car. Then, familiarise yourself with the chargers your car can use. Can it work with rapid chargers, for instance?

Next, figure out how long your EV battery takes to charge at home, so you know how much time you may need to stop for. And check out our other blog for more info about battery charging times at home, and while you're out and about.

Then, use your sat nav, or an app like bp pulse or Zap-Map to find out where the charge points are along your route. (Good news for OVO members on our EV tariff: you’ll get a free bp pulse membership.)

How to maximise the range of your electric car

Want to make sure your EV goes the distance? There are a few ways you can increase the battery life of your vehicle, by driving smarter.

This RAC guide to getting the most mileage out of your car was originally written about petrol and diesel cars, but some of it applies to electric cars, too. Useful pointers include:

  • Remove your roof rack. In fact, removing anything non-essential from the outside of your car can lower air resistance and boost your range at high speeds. 
  • Slow down. Travelling at consistently high speeds will also reduce your range, because it uses more power.
  • Empty the boot. The heavier your car is, the more power the battery will eat up.
  • Roll down the windows. Get some fresh air instead of turning on the AC! The more features you have running, the more your battery life will suffer. This includes the heating, as well as the air-conditioning. 

Ready to make the switch to an electric car?

OVO’s EV Everywhere is our home-energy tariff especially for forward-thinking EV owners. We offer 2 years of fixed energy prices, 100% renewable electricity at home and on the road6, and a free bp pulse membership – so you’ll never run out of power mid-journey. 

Interested? Find out more about our electric car tariff, and get a quote in under 2 minutes using the button below. 

And if you're not quite sure about making the switch – why not read our own staff writer's account of driving an EV for the first time through a car club. It's like an extended test drive! 

Sources and references

6  The renewable electricity we sell is backed by renewable certificates (Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin certificates (REGOs)). See here for details on REGO certificates and how these work.  

Come, join us

For 100% renewable electricity, tree planting power and so much more.

Get a quote in 2 mins