600 Mile Range EVs

TL;DR;Don’t hold your breath for significantly longer range EVs, it’s a niche market.

A 2021 Tesla S Long Range can drive 629 miles from Redding CA to Ocean Side CA in 10h11min, 9.5h of which are driving, the rest are 2 stops of 23 and 19 minutes each. You can play around with such scenarios using A Better Route Planner.

You can play with the settings, too, or check your own routes. The above is optimized for quickest arrival, but if 20 minutes is intolerably long you could stop more often for a shorter time.

E.g. you can do it in 10h36min with 10h of driving, 6 charging stops, and the longest is 6 minutes. If you were to drive 20% above the speed limit, it’s 9h total, 8h driving and 1h charging. You charge a bit longer (9, 18, 25 minutes), but you arrive sooner.

Even a Model Y LR AWR can do it in less than 11h (at speed limit), with less than an hour total of charging (5 stops of 9-14 minutes)

Some of the competition could, too, if they do CSS fast charge, and there are (working) CSS chargers at the right spots. Superchargers just win in availability, and if you want to do that kind of road tripping, you need the supercharger network.

As a rule of thumb a 300 miles EPA range EV turns a 10 hour drive into an 11h drive. If your 10h drive already has stops in it, it will turn into an 10.5h trip, if at all, but you may not be able to freely choose the stops.

The market of drivers who like to drive 3+ hour sessions with less than 20 minutes breaks in-between is just not big enough. And the car would constantly carry the battery for 600 miles, and it would be significantly less efficient all the time. So a 600 miles vehicle only makes sense if the vehicle is driven frequently without stops for such a long time. E.g. long distance trucks.

For passenger vehicles, after 400 miles the return in longer range is really minimal. Add in the extra cost, and it’s not a very attractive vehicle. A 25k car that does 300 miles is a lot more interesting than a 60k car that does 600 miles. Even if we had 1000 miles batteries, it’s better to use them for two cars of 400 miles each (accounting for double reserves at 100% and 0%)

Doubling the battery capacity to save 40 minutes of charging on 10h road trips is just not worth the effort or money for any manufacturer.

There is another use case for trips where there are few charging stations, e.g. driving from Seattle to Fairbanks. But the solution to that is more charging stations, not longer range.

A more important use case is towing. A business may justify the cost (and get tax write offs) of a vehicle that has a 400 miles towing range (i.e. 600+ not towing). That may be a market. But again, it’s only a business that requires 400+ miles in a day. If you can plug in at the job site, or load/unload site, you may not need 400+.

The biggest problem with longer range EVs is cost of the EV. It’s not just the cost of the significantly larger batter, but also the weight. Add 500 or 1000lbs and you need bigger brakes, more expensive tires, etc. You also lose efficiency on every mile you drive (i.e. higher charging cost) Few consumers will pay for the cost of the extra range.

Maybe some manufacturers, including Tesla, will target this niche market for the bragging rights. But it won’t be cheap. For the rest of us, we will just stop every 2-3 hours. At least until the battery supply constraints are overcome, energy density goes up, and battery prices drop.

Last Updated on April 5, 2022.