How long is a piece of string?

One of the most common questions I get asked about electric cars is “How far can it go?” i.e. How many miles can you get out of a full charge?

The answer isn’t that straightforward, for many reasons:

  • Everyone drives differently.
    • Some people like to accelerate gently, allowing the vehicle to gain momentum gradually; other people like to mash their right foot to the floor and get to the horizon in the quickest possible timeframe. Some people will read the road ahead and take their foot off the throttle well in advance of a potential stop; others will anchor-on at the last second. This means that if I drive in one manner, and get 90 miles from my EV, someone else may only get 70 miles, and another may get 110 miles.
  • What else are you using the electricity for, other than driving the car?
    • In an electric vehicle, any heat which is needed to warm the cabin needs to be generated by either a PTC heater, or a heat pump (depending on which EV you’ve got). This uses electricity, so if you need a lot of heat, you’ll reduce the electricity you’ve got left for driving the car.
    • If you want the air conditioning to cool the interior, then likewise this needs electricity to make it work (although it tends to be less energy-intensive than a heater).
  • What speed are you driving?
    • If you’re driving around town, at less than 30mph, you won’t be having to fight air resistance as much as if you’re on the motorway doing 70. This is a big factor if you’re in a bigger vehicle (like the e-NV200 Combi). So your urban range will be better than on the motorway.
  • How hilly is it?
    • I live in Skipton, North Yorkshire. My work base is in Preston, Lancashire. In between, there are quite a few hills (The Pennines). Therefore, I use quite a bit of energy going up the hills, but also, I can regenerate some energy back into the battery as I go down the other side. If you live in Norfolk, the topography of the roads is likely to be less of an issue.

So what’s the answer? Well, Nissan quote 124 miles for the LEAF, and 106 miles for the e-NV200 Combi which I’m driving at the moment.

I’m currently getting anywhere between 65-95 miles range in the Combi, based on worst case scenario (70mph on the M65 motorway) to the best case (driving at average 50mph on the A59 with no heater/air-con).

But of course, thanks to Rapid chargers, you can keep going for as long as you want.

The other day, I drove from Skipton to Preston (38 miles), then drove to Burnley (24 miles) where I charged for about 15 minutes. I then drove to Blackburn motorway services (12 miles) and left the Combi on charge for 20 minutes whilst I got a bite to eat for lunch (charging up to 78%).


I then set off down to Liverpool John Lennon Airport, arriving with 19% charge remaining (after driving 48 miles at motorway speeds). I charged for 24 minutes, and left the airport with 80% charge back in the battery (currently, it is free to charge, and free to park whilst you charge).


I then drove back to Preston (40 miles), popping the Combi back on charge for a short blast, before setting off back home to Skipton, via my brother-in-law’s house in Colne (40 miles).

So I had driven over 200 miles in the day, and thanks to the free rapid charger network from Nissan and Ecotricity, it had cost me less than £2. In a diesel, the same journey would have cost over £20 (and an extra £4 for the short-stay car park at Liverpool airport). Result!


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