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PHOTO CAPTION: At around $42K, the BMW i3 is priced at 60% the cost of a Tesla Model S.

How Much Range Does Your Electric Car Really Need?

Oak Ridge National Lab research finds that for the price difference, most consumers will be better off with an electric car with 100 miles range than 200+.

Published: 28-Nov-2014

Car buyers consider many factors before making a purchase -- including comfort, style and efficiency. If they were honest and realistic about how much they drive, a majority of consumers inclined to purchase electric vehicles would choose battery-powered cars that can travel fewer than 100 miles on a full charge, new research finds. And according to the same study, that statistic isn't likely to change unless battery costs drop dramatically, despite the drastic change that represents from gas-powered vehicles.

Tesla's Model S has a range of up to about 300 miles on a fully charged battery, and a luxury car price to boot, but most electric-car models can travel no more than about 100 miles on a full charge. The new research finds that most customers will find the 100-miles or less category adequate to meet their daily driving needs, given battery costs now and in the likely near future. This is based on data that shows how far people actually drive each day.

Customers may prefer cars that are capable of driving hundreds of miles without stopping, but they may only rarely need that extra range. It may be more cost-effective to use one car for daily commutes and rent another vehicle for long trips.

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