WHICH ELECTRIC cars can be driven 300 miles or more between charges? When buying a new battery-electric vehicle, a long range is one of the first things a customer will look for.
At the time of the original Nissan Leaf’s launch 10 years ago, the car makers dabbling with pure-electric models were trying to convince us that its official range of 109 miles between charges (less than that in the real world) was more than enough for most drivers.
In a way, it was true — research from 2008, published in the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders’ 2011 Electric Car Guide, showed that the average individual journey length in the UK was 8.6 miles and the average total daily distance travelled was 25 miles, while more than 80% of motorists across Europe drove less than 63 miles in a typical day.
And yet “range anxiety” (the fear of running out of charge) was still a major talking point, with many commentators asking, “But what happens if I want to drive from London to Scotland”. Although journeys of that distance aren’t common, a long road trip — say for a family holiday — once or twice a year isn’t out of the question for many households — especially with the coronavirus pandemic forcing us away from air travel.
Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla, was one of the few pure-electric car advocates arguing that drivers shouldn’t just put up with a range of 100 miles or less. He knew that if the tech was going to take off, drivers would need electric cars capable of travelling at least three times as far as the Leaf. He had introduced the Roadster in 2008, which could travel 244 miles according to the American test cycle, and then the Model S (more than 300 miles) in 2012.
Now it seems, the rest of the car industry is catching up. Cars that can go at least 300 miles per charge are becoming the norm rather than the exception, and they’re becoming more affordable, too.
Here are 10 of longest-range electric cars available to buy in 2020/2021.
1. Longest range electric car: Tesla Model S Plaid — 520 miles
The only thing beyond Ludicrous is Plaid
— Tesla (@Tesla) September 23, 2020
The most powerful and quickest-accelerating Model S yet certainly packs some impressive stats, ahead of its production beginning in late 2021.
A teaser video released by Tesla as part of its Battery Day celebrations in September claimed 0-62mph in under two seconds, a 200mph top speed, the ability to cover a quarter mile in nine seconds and 1100hp (1085bhp), intermingled with shots of the much-awaited model sprinting around the Laguna Seca racetrack in 1:30.3 minutes, 6 seconds quicker than a model that the car maker sent round in 2019.
In the era of electric hypercars like the Lotus Evija or the Pininfarina Battista, however, stats like this are nothing new. What is, is an estimated range of 520 miles, which leaves even the Tesla Model S Long Range, second in this list, in its dust. At a price of £130,980 it’s not what you’d call cheap, but it’s a fraction of the price of an Evija or Battista.
2. Longest range electric cars: Tesla Model S Long Range Plus — 405 miles
This version of the Model S is already available to buy. It’s the cheapest version of the electric saloon — although, at £74,980, “cheap” might not be an apt descriptor — meaning the Model S is still the standard-bearer when it comes to how far an electric car can go on a single charge.
3. BMW iX — 373 miles
The announcement of the BMW iX was overshadowed somewhat by the red-blooded anger about its looks, which have proved, to put it mildly, polarising. However, beneath the skin is a seriously impressive drivetrain, packing what BMW claims will be a range of 373 miles.
That’s considerably more than any of the electric SUV’s current competitors, including the Jaguar I-Pace, Mercedes EQC and Tesla Model X. How far ahead of its rivals it will be when it goes into production at the end of next year remains to be seen.
4. BMW i4 — 373 miles
The i4 electric coupé represents another step in BMW’s desire to diversify the drivetrain options in its current lineup, as part of what it is calling its “power of choice” mantra. It will share the same electric setup as the aforementioned iX, with the same range.
5. Ford Mustang Mach E Extended Range RWD — 370 miles
Some may say that the Mustang Mach-E is a Mustang in name alone — its an SUV, and won’t be able to muster the V8 growl for which the car has become known during its nearly 60 year history.
However, preliminary sightings of the Mach-E in action — including the ridiculous 1400bhp seven-motor version at the 2020 Goodwood Speedweek — show that it certainly looks exciting to drive, and with the longest-range version stated to have a 370 mile range, it’s a practical proposition, too.
6. Tesla Model 3 Long Range — 360 miles
The longest range edition of Tesla’s entry-level model has a bigger range than that of the Model X SUV, and is nearly £37,000 cheaper. Of course, it’s not as big, but it’s still pretty roomy inside for a compact saloon. And like the Model S Long Range, it’s also available to purchase right now.
7. Tesla Model X Long Range Plus — 348 miles
You’re probably getting bored of seeing the word Tesla in this list, but it just goes to show how ahead of the game the world’s most valuable car company is when it comes to battery tech — all three models that it sells in the UK made it into our top 10 longest-range electric cars list.
The Model X SUV is Tesla’s entry into the increasingly competitive electric SUV sector, and it comes with some pretty impressive stats across the Long Range and Performance variants.
Thanks to the immediate torque made available from electric motors, the latter can get to 60mph quicker than a Lamborghini Urus (despite being available with seven seats). Meanwhile the former, 1.8 seconds slower to 60mph than the Performance version and £15,000 cheaper, can cover a range of 348 miles, according to the WLTP test.
8. Volkswagen ID.3 Pro S — 336 miles
The number three that appears in the name of VW’s new hatchback is partially a reference to the company’s belief that it represents a third chapter in the company’s history, with the Beetle and the Golf representing chapters one and two respectively.
The recently-released Golf-sized electric car, then, has some hype to live up to, further amplified by the fact that it’s a tangible representation of VW’s efforts to rebuild its environmental image as it continues to deal with the fallout of the dieselgate scandal.
Building the ID.3 in a completely carbon-neutral manner (the production of cars can often be carbon-heavy) is a good start. And with the Pro S version — only available in the range-topping Tour trim — packing 336 miles worth of power in its 77kWh battery, 76 miles more than the standard version, range anxiety shouldn’t be too much of a barrier for potential buyers.
9. Volkswagen ID.4 — 323 miles
The Volkswagen ID.4 uses the same 77kWh battery as the ID.3 Pro S, but in the bigger and heavier ID.4 the range that it can produce is ever-so-slightly less. It’s still an impressive 323 miles, though, and VW claims that after eight years or 99,000 miles (presumably whichever comes first), the battery should still retain 70% of its original capacity, meaning it should still be able to get 226 miles or so per charge.
If that’s not good enough for you, though, VW has said that an even bigger battery version of the car will be announced next year.
10. Skoda Enyaq iV — 316 miles
Another entry from the conglomerate behind the VW ID.3 (it shares many of the same underpinnings) is the Skoda Enyaq IV. It’ll compete with other mid-range electric SUVs like the Kia E-Niro and Hyundai Kona Electric, which just missed out on this list, with a maximum range of 300 miles.
The Enyaq is just one in what will be a fairly long list of electric models coming from the VW group in 2021, including the ID.4, Audi Q4 e-tron, Cupra El-Born hot hatch and Cupra Tavascan SUV.
Enjoyed our roundup of the longest range electric cars to buy in 2021? You might like to read Driving.co.uk’s review of the new BMW iX3.
Hyundai recently recalled thousands of electric vehicles after reports of fires, here’s the details.
Not sold on pure-electric? Read our review of the Ioniq hybrid here.