Electric cars: a bit of history
Unbelievable but true: electric cars and regenerative braking are not as new concepts as one might think!
Electric cars appeared in the 1800s before cars with internal combustion engines, and attempts to create better ones continued throughout the 1900s.
The Belgian “La Jamais Contente”, in 1899, was the first road vehicle to reach the speed of 105.882 km/h (65.79 mph), setting a world record for any method of propulsion (electric, steam or petrol).
In 1967, the AMC Amitron was an experimental electric compact car built by American Motors Corporation and Gulton Industries. The advanced features included regenerative brake and battery designs that could provide 150 miles (240 km) on one charge. Technology issues and the high costs of batteries caused the end of development.
What is regenerative braking? With regenerative braking, a car recovers some of the energy lost from deceleration to reintroduce it back into the system and charge the battery. In classic cars, the energy developed when braking is converted into heat dissipating into the environment.
Today, the fastest electric car is the “Venturi Jamais Contente”, also dubbed the VBB, with the VBB-3 setting a new FIA-certified world record in 2016 on the famous salt flats of Bonneville in the USA, reaching 549 km/h (341 mph), a record that still stands today.
The world’s fastest electric road car is the Rimac Nevera. The Nevera is a compact hypercar with a top speed of 258 mph!
Electric car range
Electric car range and consumption are determined by a test cycle called WLTP (World Light Vehicle Test Procedure), which became standard homologation in 2018 in place of the old NEDC. The WLTP procedure is used to type-approve all new cars. It is a more accurate measurement method than the previous NEDC test cycle.
WLTP is primarily designed to calculate cars’ consumption and emissions. The test is used for the type approval and tax calculation of cars and is carried out at laboratories worldwide according to detailed guidelines. Real-life road driving is very different from laboratory tests.
Load, driving style, traffic conditions, type of route and weather are all factors that influence an electric car’s range (they are the same factors that also influence conventional cars). However, one is particularly critical for battery-powered cars: the outside temperature, which can put an electric car at a disadvantage.
Electric cars tests in Norway
The web magazine Motor and NAF (Norwegian Automotive Federation) tested 31 electric car models in 2022(other tests were made in 2020 and 2021). The 31 cars did the same route, with the same conditions of speed, driving mode, driving style, air conditioning and added weight. Two tests were carried out in 2022, one in summer and the other in winter, to see how far the battery range in real driving conditions deviated from the WLTP claim. Only 21 models participated in the 2021 test.
These tests give an overview of how electric cars behave in real life and how much range they have in certain weather conditions.
In the 2022 summer test with moving cloudiness, scattered rain showers, and 7-15°, the results were very different from the 2021 summer, where the weather was fine, partly cloudy, and temperatures between 15-20° C.
In the 2021 summer test, most of the participating cars exceeded the mileage specified by the WLTP. Only Polestar 2(-0.64%), Citroen e-C4(-1.43%) and Xpeng G3(-2.68%) did worse(details in the table below).
|Car model||WLTP range (stated)||Range (measured)||Deviation in percentage||Consump.(stated) kWh/100 km||Consump.(measured) kWh/100 km|
|Tesla Model 3 LR||614 km||654,9 km||6.66||14.8||12.4|
|Ford Mustang Mach-E RWD||610 km||617,9 km||1.30||16.5||15.0|
|Ford Mustang Mach-E AWD||540 km||551,9 km||2.20||18.7||16.0|
|Volkswagen ID.3 Pro S||539 km||564,0 km||4.64||16.2||13.5|
|Skoda Enyaq||520 km||522,0 km||0.38||17.2||14.5|
|Hyundai Kona||484 km||537,0 km||10.95||14.7||12.1|
|Volkswagen ID.4 1st Max||487 km||532,0 km||9.24||18.2||14.5|
|Polestar 2||470 km||467,0 km||−0.64||15.6||16.6|
|Audi e-Tron GT quattro||468 km||528,1 km||12.84||20.1||16.1|
|Ioniq 5||460 km||502,0 km||9.13||17.7||14.4|
|Xpeng G3||451 km||438,9 km||−2.68||14.7||–|
|BMW iX3||450 km||556,2 km||11.60pm||19.0||13.3|
|Tesla Model 3 SR||448 km||454,4 km||1.43||14.2||12.2|
|Volkswagen ID.3 1st Plus||420 km||421,0 km||0.24||16.2||13.3|
|Mercedes EQA||417 km||451,8 km||8.35||18.1||15.0|
|Volvo XC40 Recharge||415 km||445,4 km||7.33||24.0||17.5|
|Citroën e-C4||350 km||345,0 km||−1.43||14.3||13.1|
|Opel Mokka-e||324 km||332,4 km||2.59||15.6||13.8|
|Fiat 500||298 km||307,8 km||3.29||14.9||12.4|
|Honda e||210 km||236,2 km||12.48||17.8||13.4|
|Mazda MX-30||200 km||219,6 km||9.80||19.0||13.2|
In the 2022 summer, with lower temperatures(7-15°C) and rain, only 10 cars managed to exceed the mileage declared by the WLTP, the rest deviating from the declared value by between 0.15 and 14.48% less, as shown in the table below.
|Mercedes-Benz EQS 450+||711 km/unknown||620 km/17.5||-12.80%|
|Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 4MATIC||647 km/unknown||596 km/18.5||-7.88%|
|BMW iX xDrive50||591 km/21.4 kWh||568.5 km/19.0||-3.81%|
|BMW i4 eDrive40||565 km/16.9 kWh||583.6 km/14.3||3.29%|
|Kia EV6 RWD||528 km/16.5 kWh||500.2 km/14.8||-5.27%|
|Mercedes-AMG EQE 43 4MATIC||518 km/unknown||443 km/20.7||-14.48%|
|Polestar 2 LR Single Motor||517 km/17.8 kWh*||520.6 km/14.7||0.70%|
|Tesla Model Y LR Dual Motor||507 km/16.9 kWh||545 km/13.2||7.50%|
|Ford Mustang Mach-E GT||500 km/20.0 kWh||436.6 km/21.1||-12.68%|
|NIO ES8||500 km/21.5 kWh||443.6 km/17.7||-11.28%|
|Audi e-tron Q4 40||498 km/18.1 kWh||460.9 km/16.1||-7.45%|
|BMW i4 M50||497 km/19.0 kWh||521.1 km/16.1||4.85%|
|Skoda Enyaq Coupe RS||491 km/17.8 kWh||497 km/14.9||1.22%|
|Kia EV6 4WD||484 km/18.0 kWh||459.2 km/17.0||-5.12%|
|Hyundai Ioniq 5 RWD||481 km/16.8 kWh||446 km/14.9||-7.28%|
|Skoda Enyaq iV80X||481 km/18.2 kWh||446 km/16.8||-7.28%|
|Polestar 2 LR Dual Motor||477 km/19.8 kWh*||446.6 km/17.1||-6.37%|
|VW ID.5 GTX||473 km/18.7 kWh||453 km/16.9||-4.23%|
|Xpeng P7||470 km/19.4 kWh||436 km/16.6||-7.23%|
|VW ID.4 GTX||466 km/18.9 kWh||428 km/17.5||-8.15%|
|Hongqi EHS-9||465 km/22.0 kWh||371 km/unknown||-20.22%|
|Audi e-tron Q4 50 quattro||459 km/19.3 kWh||459.6 km/16.6||0.13%|
|MG ZS Long Range||440 km/17.8 kWh||443 km/15.0||0.68%|
|Volvo C40 Recharge||437 km/21.1 kWh||418.7 km/18.1||-4.19%|
|Renault Mégane E-tech||428 km/17.1 kWh||413 km/14.0||-3.50%|
|Cupra Born||424 km/15.5 kWh||376.0 km/14.8||-11.32%|
|Porsche Taycan 4 Cross Turismo||412 km/25.0 kWh||403 km/21.7||-2.18%|
|Mercedes-Benz EQB 350 4MATIC||407 km/not specified||411 km/16.3||0.98%|
|BMW iX xDrive40||400 km/20.8 kWh||399.4 km/17.6||-0.15%|
|BID Tang||400 km/21.6 kWh||407.6 km/unknown||1.90%|
|Maxus Euniq6||354 km/21.0 kWh||388.4 km/17.6||9.72%|
In the winter 2022 test, with partly cloudy weather, from 0 to -10 degrees, no car reached the WLTP declared value, with deviations ranging from 11 per cent fewer km travelled by the BYD Tang to 28.75 per cent less by the Peugeot e-2008.
|Model (temp. ranged from 0° to -10°)||WLTP figures||STOP||Deviation|
|Tesla Model 3 LR Dual engine||614 km/14.7 kWh||521 km||-15.15%|
|Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 4matic||645 km/18.3 kWh||513 km||-20.47%|
|BMW iX xDrive50||591 km/21.4 kWh||503 km||-14.89%|
|Tesla Model Y LR Dual engine||507 km/16.9 kWh||451 km||-11.05%|
|Volkswagen ID.3 PRO S||539 km/16.3 kWh||435 km||-19.29%|
|Kia EV6 2WD||528 km/16.5 kWh||429 km||-18.75%|
|NIO ES8 LR 7 seats||488 km/21.5 kWh||425 km||-12.91%|
|Kia EV6 4WD||484 km/18.0 kWh||423 km||-12.60%|
|Volkswagen ID.4 Pro||485 km/18.4 kWh||414 km||-14.64%|
|Hyundai Ioniq 5 2WD||481 km/16.8 kWh||408 km||-15.18%|
|BMW i4 M50||497 km/19.0 kWh||406 km||-18.31%|
|Skoda Enyaq iV80X||477 km/18.2 kWh||403 km||-15.51%|
|Porsche Taycan 4 Cross Turismo||456 km/22.4 kWh||402 km||-11.84%|
|Polestar 2 LR Single engine||517 km/18.6 kWh||400 km||-22.63%|
|Audi e-tron GT||463 km/21.1 kWh||392 km||-15.33%|
|Xpeng P7||470 km/19.4 kWh||383 km||-18.51%|
|Audi e-tron Q4 40||485 km/18.6 kWh||380 km||-21.65%|
|Hyundai Ioniq 5 4WD (19-inch)||460 km/17.7 kWh||369 km||-19.78%|
|Hyundai Ioniq 5 LR 4WD (20-inch)||430 km/17.7 kWh||x||x|
|BID Tang||400 km/21.6 kWh||356 km||-11.00%|
|Volkswagen ID.4 GTX||466 km/18.6 kWh||353 km||-24.20%|
|Audi e-tron Q4 50 quattro||459 km/19.1 kWh||349 km||-23.97%|
|Skoda Enyaq iV80||509 km/17.7 kWh||347 km||-31.83%|
|Tesla Model 3 SR||448 km/14.0 kWh||346 km||-22.87%|
|Polestar 2 LR Dual engine||476 km/20.2 kWh||340 km||-28.57%|
|Polestar 2 LR Dual engine (with luggage)||470 km/19.5 kWh||x||x|
|Cupra Born||395 km/15.4 kWh||339 km||-14.18%|
|Volvo C40 Recharge||437 km/21.1 kWh||333 km||-23.80%|
|Mercedes-Benz EQA 250||401 km/17.7 kWh||331 km||-17.46%|
|BMW iX xDrive40||402 km/20.7 kWh||316 km||-21.39%|
|Mercedes-Benz EQB 350 4matic||407 km/18.1 kWh||315 km||-22.60%|
|Opel Mokka-e||338 km/16.2 kWh||263 km||-22.19%|
|Peugeot e-2008||320 km/15.6 kWh||228 km||-28.75%|
At this link, you can read the entire Norwegian article: Here is the range verdict on Norwegian electric cars
The loss of range is amplified if several factors come into play simultaneously: cold weather, wet ground, mud or snow, strong wind, heavy load, large tyres, use of the heating system or air conditioning, etc. Low temperatures also affect the charging times of electric batteries, which are significantly longer.
Simple tips to extend the electric vehicle’s battery life
- a BEV’s range will be extended by a smooth and fluid driving style with less acceleration and deceleration. Reduce also the cruising speed will effectively lower energy consumption;
- travel at a constant speed as much as possible;
- adjust your speed by dosing your acceleration, even downhill;
- charge at 100% before a long trip, and once on the road, better to stop twice to recharge at 80% than to stop once to charge at 100% because the left 20% charge is slower.
- pre-heat or pre-cool the interior when the car is charging, and on the road, use the eco-climate function;
- use the deceleration energy recovery system: when you need to stop the vehicle, first release the accelerator pedal to decelerate and then stop;
- take advantage of regenerative braking if the vehicle allows it. Thanks to this function, you can recover a percentage of energy during braking and deceleration that would otherwise be lost. The mechanism is simple and is based on converting the kinetic energy of movement, something that cannot happen in thermal vehicles.
- as with conventional cars, electric cars are also less efficient if the tyres are not properly inflated. A car with underinflated tyres will certainly consume more energy and lead to premature tread wear;
- travel light by removing unnecessary weight from the boot or roof rack, and even remove the roof rack itself if it is unnecessary. Extra weight significantly reduces the energy efficiency of an electric vehicle. In addition, the roof rack negatively affects the vehicle’s aerodynamics;
- do not charge your mobile phone in the car;
- plan the best route for your journey that allows a constant speed to be maintained and includes enough charging points so that you are not left with a 0% charge in the middle of nowhere and have to call roadside assistance.
As seen from the tests in Norway, the weather (low or high temperatures, rain, snow, winds) has a major influence on the battery range of an electric car, but it is not the only factor. An aggressive driving style with higher speeds, more aggressive acceleration and deceleration significantly increase energy consumption, as do the car’s road conditions, weight and aerodynamics.
Auxiliary devices such as air conditioning, window heaters, fans, lights, sound systems, windscreen wipers, navigation system, etc., also consume energy.
Until technology allows us greater battery autonomy, we must be very careful how we use what we have!
So if you want to buy an electric car now, you must think carefully about how you will use it daily! Remember that there are also hybrid cars, which offer a better alternative for long distances!