Future electric vehicles need at least 200 miles driving range

BMW i | February 20th, 2015 by 16
BMW i3 Nissan Leaf VW E Golf 1200x800 8ea40c2c07666767 750x500

Apple has been dominating the headlines as of late, with its talks of developing an electric car. It’s taken some attention away from some other …

Apple has been dominating the headlines as of late, with its talks of developing an electric car. It’s taken some attention away from some other big news, though. Apparently, there seems to be a race to develop the first 200 mile electric car for around $30,000, between Tesla, GM and Nissan.

At the moment, the Nissan Leaf, Volkswagen e-Golf, Fiat 500e and BMW i3 all have around a 100 mile range. That’s also being a bit generous, as most will only hit 100 miles if driven like a tortoise with no A/C, heat or radio on. But regardless, 100 miles seems to be the consistent number amongst all EVs today. The Tesla has a claimed 200 mile range but doesn’t fit into that price bracket.

The new goal seems to not only be 200 miles, but to hit the 200 mile mark without getting into $40,000 territory. At the moment, both the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt occupy that price group, while the i3 and Tesla Model S are a bit more expensive. Well, the i3 is a bit more, starting at $42,400, but drops into the $30,000’s after government incentives. The Tesla is quite a lot more, starting a $69,000 before incentives. At that price point, a 200 mile range is expected.

BMW i3 Nissan Leaf VW E Golf 1200x800 c1af4ace06b31cec 750x500

READ ALSO: Top fastest charging electric cars

Since Tesla can already achieve 200 miles of range, it will probably be the first ones to accomplish the task, especially with its uber-high-tech Gigafactory almost up to full speed. Elon Musk has already confirmed a Model 3, which will compete in size, luxury and price with the BMW 3 Series. Musk claims will hit that 200 mile mark along with the sub $40,000 price mark. Musk is a man of bold claims, however, he usually has a penchant for backing them up, so I don’t see this as a farfetched idea. While other companies claim they’re up to this task, if anyone is, it’s Tesla.

tesla model 3 front 0

Tesla Model 3 Rendering


Chevy seems to think they can hang with Musk’s EV giant, with its new Bolt. The Bolt is said to hit both the 200 mile a $30,000 price goal, after incentives. Actually, GM CEO, Mary Barra, has claimed the Bolt can surpass that goal. That, to me at least, is just chest-pumping by GM and will not come to fruition. It’s rumored that GM’s Orion Michigan plant, said to produce the Bolt, will be starting up come 2016. So according to GM, this 200 mile, $30,000 Bolt will be available in 2017, which is ironic as that’s supposedly right on schedule with Tesla’s Gigafactory and Model 3. How coincidental?

Nissan, not to be left out of this party, also claims that it has the ability to turn the Leaf into a 200 mile EV, and considering it’s already in the price range, that would make Nissan first to hit the mark. Actually, Nissan claims that this new “Uber-Leaf” will be able to reach 250 miles, but Nissan also claims that the current Leaf can reach 142 miles, which it plainly cannot. Much of these claims came after the unveiling of the Chevy Bolt concept at the Detroit Auto Show, so it seems to me that Nissan just felt left out and needed to puff its chest out a bit so we would take notice.

Chevrolet Unveils Bolt EB and Next Generation Volt

As far as the i3 goes, there doesn’t seem to be any news regarding a 200 mile range in the future. All we know is that BMW is working on battery technology with Toyota and it already has the lightweight technology to make such a car happen. I think BMW is confident in the i3 as it stands now, but measures will be taken in the future to ensure the i3’s competitiveness in the segment. Maybe BMW, with some help from Toyota, can boost the range on the i3, as it’s light enough to add bigger batteries without making it too heavy.

Out of all the car companies shooting for this lofty 200 mile/$30,000 goal, I see Tesla doing it first. They already have the means to make the Model S do it, and the Model S weighs as much as a small aircraft carrier. So a new Model 3 with less weight than the Model S, less standard equipment and similar battery levels should be able to reach both range and price goals. Maybe Chevy and Nissan can pull it off as well, but if I had to put my chips down on one company to get it done, it’d be Tesla.

16 responses to “Future electric vehicles need at least 200 miles driving range”

  1. johnbl says:

    Would love to see the i3 upgraded, at some point in the future, with replacement batteries extending the range beyond the current 90 miles I’m see here in AZ …. something like Tesla just did with their Roadster.

    • mckillio says:

      That would be great and really help with long term customer service quality. For instance lithium sulfur batteries should be coming to market in the not too distant future and an optional upgrade to them in 5-10 years would awesome.

  2. WeaponZero says:

    When listening to manufacturers mention range, it is important to note where they are from. Tesla and GM are US manufacturers and quote EPA range (the most intensive test). European companies such as BMW, VW, Mercedes and etc quote NEDC range. And Japanese companies like Nissan, Toyota and etc quote JC08 range (the weakest test)

  3. Chris Llana says:

    Hopefully in the foreseeable future there will be enough BEV models for all the pundits to get away from the “one range fits all” syndrome. For most people, a 100-mile BEV works well. For many others, a 200-mile EV would best suit their needs (or psychological wants), and they would be willing to accept the extra weight and higher price. I see no reason why 100-mile and 200-mile (and 300-mile) BEVs can’t share the market. A 200-mile BEV is not intrinsically better than a 100-mile BEV. Why should range be the most important factor in deciding the desirability of a car (as long as it’s sufficient for the particular buyer), and why should more be better? What about performance, comfort, handling, style, utility, looks, prestige, price, etc.–all the same things that distinguish ICE cars in the marketplace?

    To say that all future BEVs “need” a 200-mile range is as much folly as to say that all ICE cars “need” at least 350 HP.

    • johnbl says:

      I agree that range is not one size fits all….our i3 with 90 miles range for local driving is perfect for our needs as retired persons .. catching some theater and concerts in downtown Phoenix or over to Tempe for School of Music performances, etc. This car is perfect and we also only need level 1 charging!

      ..then my kids come out and visiting the attractions here in the valley they were pushing that 90 limit even with EcoPro+.. but they liked the car so much they wanted nothing to do with our lonely ICE sitting unused. That’s really the way it is once you drive a BEV. But if Tesla is willing to upgrade, I hope BMW follows suit!

      • Chris Llana says:

        When it comes time to replace the i3’s battery, I would be shocked if BMW did not install a lighter, cheaper, more energy-dense current-generation battery. The question is, would it be same weight & higher capacity, or same capacity & lower weight, or something in between. I suspect they would opt to keep the weight the same to minimize the impact on suspension geometry.

  4. mckillio says:

    I would like for BMW to offer different options in regards to batteries. The i3 has a 22kWh battery and gets about 90 miles. A larger battery option would be great, with a 25% increase they would need a 27.5kWh battery and would deliver around 112.5 miles. I’m sure some people would be willing to pony up the extra money. Fingers crossed, they’ll do this for the refresh in a couple of years, especially since battery prices should go down.

  5. RunningOnEmpty says:

    My 2011 Nissan Leaf only realistically gets 45 miles, after 3 1/2 years and 60,000 miles. I’m in a permanent state of range anxiety. If you are lucky enough to break your battery before 60,000 mile warrant expires, then you might get 70 miles again. Truly disappointing compared to the 100 miles promised to us.

    • Tim Sisk says:

      I have had my LEAF a year now and have 15,000+ miles on it. I run it 50 miles a day on mostly highway and get 5 miles per kWhr. That’s 100 miles on a full charge. I use the radio, seat heaters, steering wheel heat, etc. Even if I were to use the forced air heating or cooling it only eats about 10% of my range.

      The real killer is near freezing temps in the winter. The battery really doesn’t like to perform then and my range dips to about 60 miles at times.

      Overall I’m very happy with it.

  6. Nathan Cordova says:

    This was an interesting read… But it feels like a copy and paste job from multiple sources.

    “.. Tesla gigafactory almost up to full speed”

    What? I assume the author is referencing the pace of construction since the factory will not be completed until well into 2016.

    Fingers crossed for the Chevy Bolt and Nissan Leaf hitting 200 mile range. Although I agree with the author on Tesla doing it first.

  7. Alfred Balitzer says:

    Until the day we reach 200 miles on battery, get a REx. I bought the i3 for urban and suburban driving. Twice a week I drive between 120 and 130 miles. Otherwise, my driving is much more local. The REx is perfect for my needs. I believe this is what the i3 was intended for–local city driving on surface streets and highways. I believe it meets the needs of most people.

    • Nathan Cordova says:

      I loved the i3. Almost bought one until the Car and Driver report on the REX engine not being able to perform when the battery was low. If someone could bare taking side roads on 100 mile commutes its great. Unfortunately my drive from Denver Metro to Southern Colorado made that not an option- I bought a Volt.

  8. D Barker says:

    There are people who have Youtube channels devoted videos living with the Tesla Model S and I have to say it works better than any gas vehicle. There is one youtube guy in Norway Bjorn Nyland has travels all over Norway and surrounding countries delivering goods for people for a fee in his model S. He does it as weekend fun and uses the free Tesla Super chargers so, he actually makes a profit doing it. He’s been doing it for over a year and racked up I believe 100000 km and his video’s even shows how Tesla deals with any problems that might arise. Anyway, after seeing his video’s I believe the electric vehicles can work for everyone. My next car will be the Tesla Model 3 coming 2017 they hope to price it in around the $35000 price range making it affordable to most people. By that time the supercharger network will be available everywhere in north america. check out the supercharger network http://supercharge.info/

    I am disappointed that the traditional auto manufactures are just figuring this out now but, I guess they’ve been making money the traditional way so why change for a car that requires no maintenance. We all know that no maintenance means no money for those traditional automakers.

    “The Traditional’s” like GM, Nissan and BMW with their EV’s still are not funding their own supercharging network and that alone will limit their electric vehicle market. The public chargers are a real problem being that when these chargers break who will fix them? I’ve noticed a lot of Leafs drivers complain that public chargers are not operational when they need them most. They are slow too! who wants to wait for their car to charge where as the Tesla free super charging network can charge your car from 15 to 30 minutes depending on how depleted your battery is. I feel that this is a feeble way for the “traditional’s” to implement their charging infrastructure leaving it to the consumer to figure out.

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