Published on October 27th, 2018 |
by Loren McDonald
October 27th, 2018 by Loren McDonald
The average range of fully electric cars (BEVs) available in the US by 2022 will be around 275 miles and could reach 400 miles by 2028. These are two findings from my new exclusive analysis and forecast.
While range increases will vary by automaker, model, price point, and the level of existing battery range; we will likely see average range increases of 25 to 40 miles every two to three years for the next several years.
BEV Battery Range Increases: 2011–2019 Model Years
With battery prices continuing to decline at a steady rate, I wanted to understand how auto manufacturers are translating these battery advancements into their upgrade frequency and range increases in their fully electric models.
To analyze past and current range increases with existing battery technologies, I took a look at six BEVs that have been available in the US for several years. Most importantly, these models had at least one increase in battery range. Since several automakers have announced battery pack updates for the 2019 model year, I’ve also included planned upgrades for the BMW i3, Kia Soul EV, and Nissan LEAF (an optional upgrade for 2019).
From 2011 through projected model upgrades for 2019, automakers will have increased the battery range of their BEV models an average of 38 miles each upgrade — a cumulative 15% increase on average per year.
Note: I did not include the Tesla Model X since it uses the same battery pack as the Model S, even though there are small differences in range between the two models. I also did not include the Fiat 500e, smart ED, Chevrolet Bolt, Honda Clarity BEV, and Tesla Model 3 because each BEV model has not yet had a battery upgrade.
What you see in the chart above is that the cadence of battery upgrades and range increases vary somewhat, but unsurprisingly, battery upgrades have occurred more frequently in the last few years. (Note: While some readers may prefer a sales-weighted analysis that measures range relative to market dispersion, that was not my interest for this project. My goal was in understanding the straight-up cadence and miles of range increases by automakers.)
Ford didn’t increase the battery size of the Focus Electric for 6 years, whereas VW increased the range of the e-Golf after two years on the US market. Nissan, by comparison, stuck with the 84 mile range battery pack for 5 years with the LEAF, but then increased the range each of the next 2 years. And it plans an upgrade option sometime in 2019.
Over the course of existence of these 6 BEVs, the total range increased a low of 26% for the Tesla Model S to a high of 168% for the LEAF – if you include next year’s expected 225 mile option. If you only include the increase to the current 151 miles from 84, the improvement for the LEAF would still be an impressive 80%.
Other than the i3, LEAF, and Kia Soul EV, none of the other BEVs are expected to have increased range in 2019. Though, Tesla could of course increase the range on the Model S (and X) in 2019 — there are currently no rumors to that effect, but Tesla has a tendency to change things with little to no notice and doesn’t follow normal model-year patterns. (Note: Although BMW has announced availability of its increased range on the i3 for November 2018, I’m counting this in the 2019 model year.)
During the period of 2015 through what is anticipated for 2019, all 6 BEVs will have had at least one battery pack upgrade. The Tesla Model S and Nissan LEAF will have had 3 upgrades (if you include the 2019 optional upgrade for the LEAF). The BMW i3 and Kia Soul EV will have had 2 upgrades. The Focus Electric and e-Golf have had only 1 increase in range.
As background, across the 13 unique BEVs currently available in the US, the mean range is 194 miles and median is 151 miles.
Average BEV Battery Range: 2009–2022
Looking forward, I’ve forecast an average BEV range of approximately 275 miles if you project current and future BEVs that will be available between now and 2022 in the US.
If the average range increases are close to my forecast, you can see that, as more BEVs reach the US market, the annual combined average range increases will begin to slow.
As battery production scales to match growing demand for EVs, along with greater investment in battery technology and manufacturing efficiencies, we will likely continue to see automakers regularly update BEV battery range (frequently with no price increase) every 2–3 years. And while range increases will vary by automaker, model, price point, and the level of existing battery range, I expect average range increases for a majority of BEVs of around 25 to 40 miles.
If solid-state batteries reach market as expected around 2025–2027, BEVs (especially higher-end models) could surpass an average 500 miles of range by 2030. Of course, most high-end luxury models should have ranges of 350–400 miles by around 2024 (Tesla models already have ranges up to ~335 miles), while many non-luxury vehicles should see ranges of around 275–300 miles.
In part 2 of this series, I will explore the impact of these continuous range increases: lower value of used EVs, shift to leasing/subscriptions, and growth in consumer interest in used versus new cars.
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