What is the advertised autonomy of electric vehicles? We are comparing three cars with a range of 400 km on a long journey of almost 800 km. What is finally more important: autonomy, consumption or charging power?
Autonomy is undoubtedly the most talked about feature of an electric car. Indeed, advertising a vehicle with enough range to make long trips seem possible is essential, and manufacturers have understood this.
We’ve already covered the various vehicles that claim the longest range, but today we’re going to focus on two models that claim around 400 kilometers of range on the WLTP cycle, and see what that means in real conditions.
On a day-to-day basis, we will see that the announced autonomy does not matter, as long as it can be recharged frequently. Therefore, during long trips, two vehicles with the same range can have large differences in total travel time. We saw it recently with the ranking of the fastest electric cars on long trips.
Indeed, in addition to autonomy, other factors seem to be much more decisive when traveling by electric car: charging speed and consumption in particular. Without further ado, let’s see what is really hidden behind a range indicated by car manufacturers.
WLTP versus reality
We have already gone back in detail to how the WLTP certification of an electric vehicle was done, and as you can imagine, this almost never represents real conditions. The total distance traveled at the time of the homologation cycle is 23.2 km, at an average speed of 46.5 km/h, far from our main motorway trips in France.
As the speed of circulation is a factor that greatly influences the consumption of an electric car, one thing is certain: achieving the advertised WLTP autonomy is impossible on the road at 130 km/h. To get a rough idea of real range at highway speeds, it’s good to only keep about 60% of WLTP range. A car advertised with 500 kilometers of WLTP autonomy is therefore approximately capable of traveling 300 kilometers of motorway at 130 km/h.
In everyday life, electric vehicles destined to be the first domestic vehicle, however, have a strong interest in having substantial ranges in the WLTP cycle, even if this does not represent reality, if only for psychological reasons when buying. In fact, a household is unlikely to consider a vehicle that shows 250 kilometers of WLTP autonomy compared to one that indicates 400 kilometers of autonomy.
However, on a daily basis, with an average of approximately 30 kilometers traveled per day by the French, a vehicle with little range can be more than enough. The condition is, of course, to be able to recharge it frequently, at home or elsewhere.
More and more vehicles are offered with almost 400 kilometers of WLTP autonomy in sight, from city cars to SUVs and electric saloons, but in practice, are all these cars the same for long trips? We will see that one of the most important factors must be sought elsewhere than the level of autonomy shown.
Loading speed: the tendons of war?
As you may have understood, comparing the long distances of two vehicles with the same autonomy can give very different results depending on their charging power. We have a series of files specifically on this subject, with the aim of ranking the vehicles that load faster, to try to identify those that stand out. But there is one essential component to keep in mind when you want to get to your destination as quickly as possible: fuel consumption.
Indeed, as we show in our series on great benchmark trips with different electric cars, the ones that arrive as quickly as possible are not always the ones that charge the fastest. Two vehicles with the same WLTP autonomy, the same maximum charging power, but different consumption do not have the same total travel times on a similar route.
Il n’y a malheureusement pas de mesure parfaite permettant en un clin d’œil de déceler que el véhicule electrique permet de voyager plus sereinement qu’un autre sur longues distances, mais il faut bien compare all the chips available pour savoir à quoi s’ expect. The most difficult thing is to know the highway fuel consumption of a certain model. In fact, consumption is always announced in combined cycle, corresponding more to suburban use.
For this reason, it is best to use applications such as Chargemap or ABRP and simulate motorway journeys to find out the consumption, the charging speed and therefore the duration of a long trip in an electric car. This is what we will do next.
To highlight the differences between various electric cars with comparable WLTP range, we’ll take the example of the current Renault Zoe, the 2020 Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus, and the entry-level Hyundai Ioniq 5.
The Frenchman has a WLTP range of 395 kilometers, and fast charging (optional at 50 kW) is present in our route simulations. On the other hand, the entry-level Hyundai Ioniq 5 offers a slightly lower range of 384 kilometers, but it is one of the champions of fast charging (221 kW of power in an 800-volt architecture). The Tesla Model 3 Standard Autonomy Plus, for its part, had at the time a range of 409 kilometers and a maximum charging power of 170 kW.
Through this practical example, we will see that in practice, two vehicles with a comparable range can offer a drastically different travel experience.
Demonstration for example
Using the excellent A Better Route Planner, which needs no introduction, we decided to consider a reference route: almost 800 kilometers between Paris and Marseille. The default parameters of the three vehicles are filled in, with a start at 90% and an arrival at 10% in the case of the Renault Zoe as well as the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and the Tesla Model 3 Standard Autonomy Plus.
Hyundai Ioniq 5: a fast ride
It takes 4 recharges to complete the journey in the entry-level Hyundai Ioniq 5, and its battery with a capacity of 58 kWh, the longest charge of which lasts just 27 minutes. In total, the travel time is 8 hours and 38 minutes, per 1 hour and 36 minutes of charging. By navigating between the different recharging networks available (Totalnergies, Tesla Superchargers or even Ionity), this journey is carried out a priori without incident.
Renault Zoé: charging very slow
With the Renault Zoe offering superior range on paper, despite its smaller 52kWh battery, it takes just as many stops to get to your destination. But although it offers “fast” charging, the Frenchman is far from recharging as quickly as the Hyundai Ioniq 5. Indeed, it takes no less than 4 hours and 33 minutes of charging in total on the tripover three hours longer than on Ioniq 5!
The total travel time is increased to 11 hours and 41 minutes., which makes this trip a real trip. In addition, we note that the shortest charge is 1 hour minutes in the Renault Zoe compared to 1 hour and 7 minutes in the longest.
Tesla Model 3 Standard Plus: broken record
In Tesla Model 3 Standard Autonomy Plus, the same route was shot in 8 hours and 37 minutes, including 1 hour and 24 minutes of charging only. Four charges are required for the 2020 Tesla with a 50 kWh battery. The longest charge lasts 20 minutes and the fastest 16 minutes. The Hyundai Ioniq 5 with a nearly 20% larger battery and higher charging power doesn’t fare any better, but the estimate is substantially similar, so we’re within the margin of error with thus a tie between the two. cars.
The situation between the Tesla and the Hyundai is very easily explained by the lower fuel consumption of the American car on the road compared to the Korean, which manages to tie the game thanks to its higher charging speed. Thus, the Model 3 is given for a WLTP consumption of 14.9 kWh/100 km compared to 16.7 kWh/100 km for the Ioniq 5. The Renault Zoé has a consumption of 17.4 kWh/100 km in the mixed cycle .
This shows that it is better to look at WLTP consumption figures rather than WLTP autonomy. Obviously, we have consciously chosen these vehicles to arrive at a result that varies greatly. In fact, the goal was to show that the displayed autonomy was not necessarily significant, especially when you want to travel long distances.
|Model||WLTP autonomy||Max charging power||total travel time|
|Renault Zoe (2019)||395km||50kW||11:41|
|Hyundai Ioniq 5 (2021)||384km||221kW||8 hours 38 minutes|
|Tesla Model 3 Standard Plus Range (2020)||409km||170kW||8:37 a.m.|
Thus, if the WLTP standard is there to compare the autonomy of vehicles and try to make a classification, it must be taken into account thatdoes not necessarily reflect reality. Apart from the test protocol being carried out at low speed, two vehicles with a similar range can behave very differently on long journeys.
As far as possible, during our tests, we try to share the consumptions that we have recorded, to help you measure the real autonomy of the vehicles. Of course, our long distance simulations are also a good resource to see where a vehicle is when it exceeds its advertised range compared to others.
In any case, try to keep in mind that the advertised range is only relevant in some real cases, but it does give a small idea of the vehicle’s capabilities anyway. In practice, long trips like the one described above allow realizing the benefits of really fast charging and contained consumption instead of greater autonomy.
In short, more than WLTP autonomy, when buying an electric car, it is better to look at the WLTP consumption side and the charging power. Be careful with this last point, since manufacturers communicate the maximum power (rarely reached in practice) and not the average power, which differs greatly depending on the vehicle and its load curve, as explained in a previous sheet. The best thing is still to refer to the time needed to go from 10 to 80% autonomy.
Finally, to avoid surprises and purchase a vehicle that does not meet your expectations, do not hesitate to consult our sheet on planning long trips by electric car, which allows you to see more clearly the factors to take into account when time of purchase.
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