Lyft’s guide to the transportation revolution

EV buying tip #1: Don’t overpay for range you won’t use

Bryan Gardiner - Apr 24, 2023
EV Buying Tip #1: Range Image Header
Illustration by Betsy Falco

Asking a first-time EV buyer how much range they need is a little like asking someone how much money they want. The answer tends to be: more. Americans have gotten used to gas stations around every corner and vehicles that offer a lot of range (the median range for 2021 gas vehicles was 403 miles vs. 234 for EVs). When you consider our country’s woefully underdeveloped charging infrastructure (something that hopefully is about to change) and people’s general aversion to getting stranded in their cars, it’s not an irrational urge.

But also, it kind of is. Most people who purchase EVs charge them at home, and according to the Federal Highway Administration, most Americans drive an average of 30 or 40 miles per day. That means that, for most of us, even a 100-mile-range EV would more than suffice. 

So before you get seduced by high-range (read: more expensive) EVs, consider where and how you’d charge and then analyze your daily trips to determine how much range you really need

As you’re calculating, it’s a good idea to add some buffer miles if any of the following pertain to you: You consistently drive fast, not slow; you predominantly use freeways (where regenerative braking won’t help you recoup as much mileage); you live in or around hilly topography; or you are a prodigious user of climate controls. All these factors will likely result in your EV getting less range than promised. And keep in mind that one of the biggest factors that impacts range is climate (more on this in plug 3…). 

Once you’ve thought about the extent to which your charging situation, lifestyle needs, and driving style could impact your potential range, it’s time to start looking for vehicles that fit your needs — and budget. 

EVs come with a range of ranges, from 100 miles for the Mazda MX-30 to 520 miles for the Lucid Air Dream Edition. The vast majority of 2022 models, however, falls somewhere between 200 and 300 miles — the new industry standard. Within that 200- to 300-mile range, there are some affordable options, like the $26,500 Chevy Bolt (259 miles). Go above that, and the vehicle price can skyrocket. The base price for that Lucid? $170,500. Yeah, big batteries are expensive.

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