GREEN SPECIAL: How much range can I really expect from a BEV?
Search Driven for Audi for sale
We’re about to talk about how much range you can really expect from a Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV). But to do that, it’s helpful talk about Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles – conventional petrol or diesel, in other words – first.
We all understand that ICE vehicles will deliver different fuel economy depending on how and where they are driven. Spend all day driving in gridlock traffic or pilot a vehicle enthusiastically over a winding backroad and it’s obvious that it will consume more fuel.
So starting with a full tank of petrol or diesel, the distance you can cover before it’s empty – the “range” – can vary enormously according to the type of driving.
That’s why official fuel economy figures can really only ever be a guide, no matter how “real world” they aim to be. They are great for comparing one vehicle with another, because the same mandated tests are applied to different vehicles. But the figure you actually achieve day-to-day is entirely dependent on how you drive.
It’s no different with a BEV. Range is a hugely important metric with BEVs, because people want to know how far they can travel before committing the time required to recharge. So there’s often criticism of BEVs not being able to achieve their claimed range.
Just like an ICE car, a “full” BEV has a certain amount of energy available (a tank of fuel for the ICE, a charged battery for the BEV), and it’s up to the driver how to extract the most from it. Or how much they want to enjoy themselves by using it up more quickly!
The issue is clouded somewhat by the convention of talking about range from BEVs versus litres per 100km for ICE cars. We could easily talk about kWh per 100km for BEVs or simply focus on total range from ICE vehicles. Because we use different terminology for each we tend to think the rules of energy use are also different for ICE and BEV cars. But they’re not.
With either powertrain, there are driving techniques that can help you maximise the distance from a full tank/charge: being easy on the throttle, anticipating the traffic ahead, reducing weight from personal items carried in the boot. All familiar economy-driving techniques.
But BEVs and hybridised vehicles do have an advantage in that they can also recover energy normally wasted during coasting or braking and use it to add charge back into the battery. It what’s called “regeneration”.
Regen-technology is rapidly improving and in a modern BEV like the Audi e-tron, could contribute to up to 30 per cent of range.
Here’s an intriguing example of the potential. Back in 2018, Audi sent prototypes of its e-tron SUV (the one you can now buy) down the legendary Pikes Peak hillclimb road in Colorado.
Down the 31-kilometre course, the e-trons recovered approximately enough energy to drive the same distance again (on the flat, of course).
The technology can work in incredible ways. In an e-tron or Porsche Taycan, for example, when you press the brake pedal, it may not actually be the brakes slowing you down. Instead, it could be the drag created by the regen system up to 90 per cent of the time – harvesting energy at the same time.