Range Anxiety and Distance to Empty

Everything You Need to Know

For some, range anxiety is the single-most feared subject when it comes to buying an electric vehicle, second only to perhaps battery lifespan.

First off, range is less of an issue than you think. Really.

Modern EVs can go upwards of 500+ kms on a single charge, and PHEVs and HEVs can boost that range to a mind-blowing 1000+ kms on a single tank. In this article we’ll focus mainly on how far each type of electric vehicle will take you so you can make the best decision for your lifestyle, now and into the future.

TIP: Calculate your needed range based on your regular weekly routine, not on infrequent once-per-year high-mileage scenarios like holidays. Rentals are a great solution for annual ski-vacations or summer road trips.

Range and Distance-to-Empty

Electric Vehicles (EVs)

With the current generation of EVs able to run more than 500 kms on a single charge, range shouldn’t be a factor holding you back from purchasing an EV. In Victoria, most residents would never have need of greater range for day-to-day commuting or errands, or even a trip to Mount Washington or Whistler. Nevertheless, you will still want to make sure your car’s range is at least sufficient for your daily commute and regular weekend activities.

Ideal consumer: With a range of 250-500+ kms, EVs are the perfect fit for most drivers when it comes to work, errands, and play.

A note on road trips: As little as two years ago, it would have been unheard of to expect your EV to replace your gas-engine when it came to long cross-country treks. But charging infrastructure on major travel routes is improving at such an incredible rate that It’s no longer the impediment it once was. If you’re willing to evolve your style of driving from caffeine fueled 12-hour marathons, to 5-hour sprints with a charging break in-between, your EV will take you everywhere you want to go.

However, if you go on frequent high-mileage road trips that exceed your range, or regularly off well-travelled routes with charging infrastructure, a PHEV or HEV might be the better purchase. Another option if you only go on long road trips once or twice a year, is to rent a gasoline-powered vehicle for your annual Albertan pilgrimage to visit Cousin Joe, or that once-in-a-lifetime fishing expedition up north.

Many two-car families purchase an EV as their primary car, retaining a secondary vehicle for their other driving needs. While towing is available on some models such as the Kia EV6, it is still rare for most EVs.

A note of caution: If you only have on-street parking or live in an older condo or apartment building without a charging station you will be limited in your charging options. We believe that with some judicious planning, and a dose of passion, you can get by solely using public charging stations. Or you may find that an HEV or PHEV is a better option for you right now.


Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles (PHEVs)

If you go on frequent road trips off major routes, or do not have regular access to a charging station, PHEVs are a fantastic option. The Kia Niro PHEV and Kia Sorento PHEV can travel 40-50 kms before the gas engine turns on, which is less than a typical commute to and from the Western Communities into downtown. In Victoria, most residents with a PHEV would never have a need for the gasoline-powered engine during their day-to-day commutes. This makes them a great compromise between hybrids and battery-only electric vehicles: minimal environmental footprint for day-to-day driving combined with the benefit of long-range gasoline-powered reliability when you need it for extended road trips and holidays.

Ideal consumer: With a range of about 50 kms, PHEVs are a great commuting vehicle. Because you can rely on the gas-powered engine when the battery is low, they are ideal for drivers who do not have at-home access to a charging station, such as people with on-street parking only or people who live in older apartment buildings on condos that do not yet have a charging station installed. With a PHEV, you still need to watch your battery gauge, but it takes a lot less time to charge so there’s less of a panic. There’s also no problem if you forget or are unable to charge: your car will still run on the gas engine. Plus, your on-board computer won’t let you run the battery to zero, a likely death sentence for any battery.

They’re also ideal for wandering souls who go on frequent high-mileage road trips: keeping your daily commute emissions-free while affording yourself the freedom to travel greater distances without worry. If bringing the family camping or boating is your thing, you’ll be able to tow it with a PHEV. Many PHEVs have towing capacity that can handily take charge of a smaller camper or boat.


Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs)

If you are looking for a lower entry price-point into the electric world but still want a smaller environmental footprint, an HEV might be more your style. The Kia Niro HEV has outstanding fuel economy and range but runs $8,000 less than the Kia Niro PHEV. And what a range it is: the 2017 Niro received a Guinness World Record title for the lowest fuel consumption driving across the USA from coast to coast in a hybrid car. The new record-setting mark is an incredible 32.57 kms/litre (76.6 mpg).

Ideal consumer: HEVs are great commuting vehicles for drivers who do not have regular access to a charging station, such as people unable to install an at-home charging station due to factors such as not being able to upgrade to 200-amp service, or only have on-street parking. They’re also ideal for people who live in older apartment buildings or condos that do not yet have a charging station installed. They’re also great for people just looking for phenomenal mileage on a single tank without needing to charge anything.