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Visualizing the Range of Electric Cars vs. Gas-Powered Cars

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electric car range

The Range of Electric Cars vs. Gas-Powered Cars

EV adoption has grown rapidly in recent years, but many prospective buyers still have doubts about electric car ranges.

In fact, 33% of new car buyers chose range anxiety—the concern about how far an EV can drive on a full charge—as their top inhibitor to purchasing electric cars in a survey conducted by EY.

So, how far can the average electric car go on one charge, and how does that compare with the typical range of gas-powered cars?

The Rise in EV Ranges

Thanks to improvements in battery technology, the average range of electric cars has more than doubled over the last decade, according to data from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

YearAvg. EV RangeMaximum EV Range
201079 miles (127 km)N/A
201186 miles (138 km)94 miles (151 km)
201299 miles (159 km)265 miles (426 km)
2013117 miles (188 km)265 miles (426 km)
2014130 miles (209 km)265 miles (426 km)
2015131 miles (211 km)270 miles (435 km)
2016145 miles (233 km)315 miles (507 km)
2017151 miles (243 km)335 miles (539 km)
2018189 miles (304 km)335 miles (539 km)
2019209 miles (336 km)370 miles (595 km)
2020210 miles (338 km)402 miles (647 km)
2021217 miles (349 km)520 miles* (837 km)

*Max range for EVs offered in the United States.
Source: IEA, U.S. DOE

As of 2021, the average battery-powered EV could travel 217 miles (349 km) on a single charge. It represents a 44% increase from 151 miles (243 km) in 2017 and a 152% increase relative to a decade ago.

Despite the steady growth, EVs still fall short when compared to gas-powered cars. For example, in 2021, the median gas car range (on one full tank) in the U.S. was around 413 miles (664 km)—nearly double what the average EV would cover.

As automakers roll out new models, electric car ranges are likely to continue increasing and could soon match those of their gas-powered counterparts. It’s important to note that EV ranges can change depending on external conditions.

What Affects EV Ranges?

In theory, EV ranges depend on battery capacity and motor efficiency, but real-world results can vary based on several factors:

  • Weather: At temperatures below 20℉ (-6.7℃), EVs can lose around 12% of their range, rising to 41% if heating is turned on inside the vehicle.
  • Operating Conditions: Thanks to regenerative braking, EVs may extend their maximum range during city driving.
  • Speed: When driving at high speeds, EV motors spin faster at a less efficient rate. This may result in range loss.

On the contrary, when driven at optimal temperatures of about 70℉ (21.5℃), EVs can exceed their rated range, according to an analysis by Geotab.

The 10 Longest-Range Electric Cars in America

Here are the 10 longest-range electric cars available in the U.S. as of 2022, based on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) range estimates:

CarRange On One Full ChargeEstimated Base Price
Lucid Air520 miles (837 km)$170,500
Tesla Model S405 miles (652 km)$106,190
Tesla Model 3358 miles (576 km)$59,440
Mercedes EQS350 miles (563 km)$103,360
Tesla Model X348 miles (560 km)$122,440
Tesla Model Y330 miles (531 km)$67,440
Hummer EV329 miles (529 km)$110,295
BMW iX324 miles (521 km)$84,195
Ford F-150 Lightning320 miles (515 km)$74,169
Rivian R1S316 miles (509 km)$70,000

Source: Car and Driver

The top-spec Lucid Air offers the highest range of any EV with a price tag of $170,500, followed by the Tesla Model S. But the Tesla Model 3 offers the most bang for your buck if range and price are the only two factors in consideration.

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Electrification

Visualized: What is the Cost of Electric Vehicle Batteries?

The cost of electric vehicle batteries can vary based on size and chemical composition. Here are the battery costs of six popular EV models.

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The Cost of EV's Battery

What is the Cost of Electric Vehicle Batteries?

The cost of an electric vehicle (EV) battery pack can vary depending on composition and chemistry.

In this graphic, we use data from Benchmark Minerals Intelligence to showcase the different costs of battery cells on popular electric vehicles.

Size Matters

Some EV owners are taken by surprise when they discover the cost of replacing their batteries.

Depending on the brand and model of the vehicle, the cost of a new lithium-ion battery pack might be as high as $25,000:

VehicleBattery TypeBattery CapacityBattery CostTotal Cost of EV
2025 Cadillac Escalade IQNickel Cobalt Manganese Aluminum (NCMA)200 kWh$22,540$130,000
2023 Tesla Model SNickel Cobalt Aluminum (NCA)100 kWh$12,030$88,490
2025 RAM 1500 REVNickel Cobalt Manganese (NCM)229 kWh$25,853$81,000
2022 Rivian Delivery VanLithium Iron phosphate (LFP)135 kWh$13,298$52,690
2023 Ford MustangLithium Iron Phosphate (LFP)70 kWh$6,895$43,179
2023 VW ID.4Nickel Cobalt Manganese (NCM622)62 kWh$8,730$37,250

The price of an EV battery pack can be shaped by various factors such as raw material costs, production expenses, packaging complexities, and supply chain stability. One of the main factors is chemical composition.

Graphite is the standard material used for the anodes in most lithium-ion batteries.

However, it is the mineral composition of the cathode that usually changes. It includes lithium and other minerals such as nickel, manganese, cobalt, or iron. This specific composition is pivotal in establishing the battery’s capacity, power, safety, lifespan, cost, and overall performance.

Lithium nickel cobalt aluminum oxide (NCA) battery cells have an average price of $120.3 per kilowatt-hour (kWh), while lithium nickel cobalt manganese oxide (NCM) has a slightly lower price point at $112.7 per kWh. Both contain significant nickel proportions, increasing the battery’s energy density and allowing for longer range.

At a lower cost are lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries, which are cheaper to make than cobalt and nickel-based variants. LFP battery cells have an average price of $98.5 per kWh. However, they offer less specific energy and are more suitable for standard- or short-range EVs.

Which Battery Dominates the EV Market?

In 2021, the battery market was dominated by NCM batteries, with 58% of the market share, followed by LFP and NCA, holding 21% each.

Looking ahead to 2026, the market share of LFP is predicted to nearly double, reaching 38%.

NCM is anticipated to constitute 45% of the market and NCA is expected to decline to 7%.

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How Clean is the Nickel and Lithium in a Battery?

This graphic from Wood Mackenzie shows how nickel and lithium mining can significantly impact the environment, depending on the processes used.

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How clean is the lithium and nickel in battery

How Clean is the Nickel and Lithium in a Battery?

The production of lithium (Li) and nickel (Ni), two key raw materials for batteries, can produce vastly different emissions profiles.

This graphic from Wood Mackenzie shows how nickel and lithium mining can significantly impact the environment, depending on the processes used for extraction.

Nickel Emissions Per Extraction Process

Nickel is a crucial metal in modern infrastructure and technology, with major uses in stainless steel and alloys. Nickel’s electrical conductivity also makes it ideal for facilitating current flow within battery cells.

Today, there are two major methods of nickel mining:

  • From laterite deposits, which are predominantly found in tropical regions. This involves open-pit mining, where large amounts of soil and overburden need to be removed to access the nickel-rich ore.

  • From sulphide ores, which involves underground or open-pit mining of ore deposits containing nickel sulphide minerals.

Although nickel laterites make up 70% of the world’s nickel reserves, magmatic sulphide deposits produced 60% of the world’s nickel over the last 60 years.

Compared to laterite extraction, sulphide mining typically emits fewer tonnes of CO2 per tonne of nickel equivalent as it involves less soil disturbance and has a smaller physical footprint:

Ore TypeProcessProductTonnes of CO2 per tonne of Ni equivalent
SulphidesElectric / Flash SmeltingRefined Ni / Matte6
LateriteHigh Pressure Acid Leach (HPAL)Refined Ni / Mixed Sulpide Precipitate / Mixed Hydroxide Precipitate13.7
LateriteBlast Furnace / RKEFNickel Pig Iron / Matte45.1

Nickel extraction from laterites can impose significant environmental impacts, such as deforestation, habitat destruction, and soil erosion.

Additionally, laterite ores often contain high levels of moisture, requiring energy-intensive drying processes to prepare them for further extraction. After extraction, the smelting of laterites requires a significant amount of energy, which is largely sourced from fossil fuels.

Although sulphide mining is cleaner, it poses other environmental challenges. The extraction and processing of sulphide ores can release sulphur compounds and heavy metals into the environment, potentially leading to acid mine drainage and contamination of water sources if not managed properly.

In addition, nickel sulphides are typically more expensive to mine due to their hard rock nature.

Lithium Emissions Per Extraction Process

Lithium is the major ingredient in rechargeable batteries found in phones, hybrid cars, electric bikes, and grid-scale storage systems. 

Today, there are two major methods of lithium extraction:

  • From brine, pumping lithium-rich brine from underground aquifers into evaporation ponds, where solar energy evaporates the water and concentrates the lithium content. The concentrated brine is then further processed to extract lithium carbonate or hydroxide.

  • Hard rock mining, or extracting lithium from mineral ores (primarily spodumene) found in pegmatite deposits. Australia, the world’s leading producer of lithium (46.9%), extracts lithium directly from hard rock.

Brine extraction is typically employed in countries with salt flats, such as Chile, Argentina, and China. It is generally considered a lower-cost method, but it can have environmental impacts such as water usage, potential contamination of local water sources, and alteration of ecosystems.

The process, however, emits fewer tonnes of CO2 per tonne of lithium-carbonate-equivalent (LCE) than mining:

SourceOre TypeProcessTonnes of CO2
per tonne of LCE
MineralSpodumeneMine9
Mineral Petalite, lepidolite and othersMine 8
BrineN/AExtraction/Evaporation3

Mining involves drilling, blasting, and crushing the ore, followed by flotation to separate lithium-bearing minerals from other minerals. This type of extraction can have environmental impacts such as land disturbance, energy consumption, and the generation of waste rock and tailings.

Sustainable Production of Lithium and Nickel

Environmentally responsible practices in the extraction and processing of nickel and lithium are essential to ensure the sustainability of the battery supply chain.

This includes implementing stringent environmental regulations, promoting energy efficiency, reducing water consumption, and exploring cleaner technologies. Continued research and development efforts focused on improving extraction methods and minimizing environmental impacts are crucial.

Sign up to Wood Mackenzie’s Inside Track to learn more about the impact of an accelerated energy transition on mining and metals.

 

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