The Case for 300+ Miles Range Vehicles

There are a few use cases for 300+ mile real ranges (4h+ of driving).

  • Cannonballers, who don’t want to stop. Nothing you can do. There are surprisingly many people who do this. Non-stop from San Francisco to LA. Maybe even San Francisco to Seattle, which pushes it in an ICE.
  • Towing, which can cut your “real world” range in half. Lots of people tow long distance in the US. Some trailers are huge.
  • Cold weather can take a third off your EPA range. You should also have more reserve when it’s snowing in case you break down or get stuck on a closed highway.
  • Remote camping without power. 100 miles in, three nights, 100 miles out may be pushing it if your real range is just 220 miles.
  • Resiliency, the ability to get away in an emergency (earth quakes, forest fires, etc.) This one is less clear cut, as in an emergency you can charge an EV at every (working) electricity outlet and if there is no power within 100 miles you probably have bigger issues (and typical gas stations will not work either).
  • High mileage jobs. People who drive their personal vehicle 4-8 hours every day to get to work, or for work, especially when work has no electricity. Note that these people should be extra motivated to switch to an EV given the huge savings on fuel.

Note that the distances between inhabited places are much bigger in e.g. the Western US or Canada than in Central Europe or the East Cost.

Towing a trailer to Alaska may not be possible. Some ski resorts are only in reach for day trips if the weather is nice/warm and/or you can charge at the destination on one of a few slow chargers. If you don’t get one, you may be charging for 4h after skiing. Sometimes, because of weather, a 2h trip over a lonely pass may become 6h in a blizzard. If your work side is 2h+ out of town in the middle of nowhere (e.g. because you are maintaining roads) you need to get there and back.

The answer is primarily more fast charging stations, especially in gap and remote locations to enable these trips. We don’t need faster charging technology: 250+kW is good enough for all but cannonballers, but we need 250kW+ in more places. They need to be reliable and plenty.

  • More: In general, there needs to be a fast charging station at least every 100 miles. That will allow a 300 miles rated vehicle to make it even towing in winter.
  • Fast: Those stations need to be 250kW+. That will also allow people who want to take breaks more often to do 5-10min breaks to get enough to get to the next charger)

One reason why Tesla is your only painless choice if you road trip in the Western US (maybe other places) – until they open up the network. EA just doesn’t build enough stations and has no motivation to maintain them.

Also, all of the above are a small subset of drivers, especially if you exclude those with multiple vehicles. E.g. people may have a daily driver but use a heavy truck for towing. They could replace the daily driver and take the truck when needed.

The niche nature of these use cases means that a 600 miles range car/pickup is no priority for anyone. It’s more profitable and better for the environment to build two 250 miles cars with those batteries. The industry will build vehicles for those consumers once we are through the battery supply constraints.

Last Updated on April 5, 2022.