Edmunds Embraces EVs by Putting 9 EVs Through Range Test

By · January 29, 2013

Historically, mainstream automotive magazines and websites have been slow to accept pure electric cars as a legitimate technology. That is changing, as evidenced by Edmunds.com recently gathering nine electric cars for a drive along a standard 105.5 mile test loop.


Video of EV range test produced by Edmunds.com.

“With most of these cars, this is just a first step for each of the company’s electrification [program],” said Edmunds’s Automotive Editor James Riswick. “In many ways, this is a first step for us too at Edmunds, because this lays the groundwork for future electric car testing.” The auto website plans to continue using the real-world loop—at 8 am morning traffic in Southern California, with an average speed of 29.5 miles per hour—as new all-electric models hit the market.

The list of tested vehicles included: Tesla Model S, Toyota RAV4 EV, BMW ActiveE, Coda EV Sedan, Honda Fit EV, Ford Focus BEV, a VW Golf EV prototype, 2011 Nissan Leaf, and a Mitsubishi i MiEV.

Edmunds EV Range Test Results

The range for electric cars, as tested by Edmunds.com.

The results showed that without much trouble, all of the vehicles can beat EPA estimates for driving range. In the case of the Toyota RAV4 EV, the real-world range was 144.5 miles, compared to an estimated range of just 103 miles.

Regardless of the results, the fact that Edmunds has established a benchmark for future EV range testing is itself a milestone: electric cars are perhaps one step closer to mainstream acceptance.


· · 1 year ago

Yeah, so what was the deal with Jim Motavalli's range numbers on the i MiEV?

· · 1 year ago


"The auto website plans to continue using the real-world loop—at 8 am morning traffic in Southern California, with an average speed of 29.5 miles per hour"

That is the problem. That sounds like a "poor" EPA testing condition.

"Real world" condition would require some hill climb, some heat and A/C usage and some merging and hard acceleration.

Maybe a better test would be in the colder Northern California (instead of LA basin) with hills and some heat usage.

I propose some coast hwy driving and hwy driving around the SF Bay Area and doing some climb up and down in the Bay Area coastal ranges or Napa/Sonoma Wine Country roads...

· · 1 year ago

They can find far larger hills and more cold right in Southern California than in the SF Bay Area.

But, it's doubtful that they even fully understand how different cold affects an EV over an ICE, so it also probably didn't enter their mind to test for it. They even state it's a first for them.

Heck, it's a demonstration that I think works surprisingly well to compare the cars on a like course. Yes, they could do the same thing in the Sierras, but I suspect we would only learn what we already know; none of them will go as far.

· · 1 year ago

Assuming DTE is distance to empty, I'd bet the Fit, Focus, and Golf could all make the entire track. I've gone 5 miles past empty on the Fit EV and the car didn't shut down. I'd like to see the same test, but instead run the EVs all the way down. Different cars will have different reserves.
Also, it isn't really fair that they used a 2-year old LEAF compared to the rest of the cars that were about 1 year old or less. It'd be interesting to see them do this with a 2011 and 2013 LEAF.

· · 1 year ago

"They can find far larger hills and more cold right in Southern California than in the SF Bay Area."

Hills, maybe. But I am pretty sure they can find colder weather in the Napa County/Sonoma County area than the LA basin... All they need is to defrost/defog and go max heat every morning and they will understand what it does to the EV range...

· · 1 year ago

What surprises me is that the Golf was actually included. Makes me think that Volkswagen might actually manufacture and sell them some day, which I would welcome.

Also, I'm impressed with the Rav 4 range, and I disagree with the video characterization that, because it's based on the previous Rav 4, that one will always feel like they're driving an old car. Before I leased a 2012 Leaf in December, the newest car in my possession was a 1996 Nissan pickup. I'm quite certain that the Rav 4 EV would feel like a new car to me : )

· · 1 year ago

Humph. I have 2 Ev's and they didn't test either of them.

· · 1 year ago

@Bill Howland - what do you own? Are they the Roadster and Volt?

Roadster - no longer being manufactured. Volt - seems this test was reserved for pure electrics, no PHEV's.

· · 1 year ago

They did a decent job, though they still are stuck on some platitudes. It would be interesting for them to release the data on charging that they got - and it would be interesting to see how much it cost to drive each of these EV's per mile.

They should drive *all* cars they review on the same loop, and report on the cost, and the pollution, as well. And it would be really important to compare the EV ranges to what people actually drive each day; and how much money they would pay for an EV vs their current car.

They do post the kWh/100km (for all the cars except the Tesla Model S, curiously), and since their test loop is ~30MPH average, all the cars do significantly better than their EPA rating.


· · 1 year ago

I'm glad Edmunds is on board......and they're doing it on the biggest EV bugaboo of all: range. Perhaps focusing on what EV cars CAN do, rather than what they're not suited to do, will help them find their niche.
What has to stop is people waiting for the EV with the 400 mile range, because it's never going to happen in a practical vehicle with any chemical battery.

· · 1 year ago

A double edged test...

So, we just proved that BEVs are nothing more than "city cars" that doesn't require climate control usage? Or did we just prove that when driving "efficiently", it can operate as a very "efficient" vehicle, more than any ICE or hybrid?

· · 1 year ago

I appreciate the test and all, and applaud Edmunds for acknowledging EVs, but the real stricking piece of the article to me it that first picture. I mean, just look at all those EVs! How far we have come, so quickly. A year ago, I will still waiting in line to get a Leaf, and nobody in Syracuse really had a pure EV. There were a handful of Volts around, but those were purchased near NYC and driven the 300 miles up. Now, all of these cars are on the road (somewhere, even if not here), and even more are coming. This is exciting news in itself!

· · 1 year ago

Damn . . . someone should have given them a Think City to drive. I know it is not available anymore but I would have loved to see the comparison.

· · 1 year ago

Wait . . . LA 8am morning traffic is not "real world" driving? Yeah, because no one is on the roads at 8 am in LA.

It is weird that people consider commuter driving in the most car-infested city to not be 'real world' driving but some vacation driving in wine country is 'real world' driving. LOL.

· · 1 year ago

I applaud Edmunds for starting this project. I hope they publish even more data: they measured as precisely a they could, and if they published this it would be very helpful. We could see how close each car's range remaining gauges are, we can know how much it cost to charge each car and compare this to the other EV's and ICE's as well.

I predict that it costs as much (or more) for regular maintenance at a dealer on an ICE car, than it does to drive an EV. Remember, there is almost no regular maintenance on an EV; rotating the tires is about it. The Leaf needs to have the oil in the reduction gear at 150K miles. That means that you save about $17,000/per 100K miles driving an EV compared to a typical 23MPG car. Even a Prius costs about $7,000 more to drive 100K miles than driving an EV like the Leaf. All of the money you pay for electricity stays in your local economy. Much of the money you pay for gas goes to a foreign country. We don't need a military to defend our electricity, either.

I would be very interested to know what "gear" they drove the cars in - I'm assuming it was Drive? I would love to have the drive completed a second time in the Eco mode on each car that has one.

The Tesla has a toggle for the level of regenerative braking, and it would be very interesting indeed to know more about how this affects the range. I think that most EV's have way too much regenerative braking dialed in on the accelerator pedal - and they do not allow easy and consistent free-wheel coasting. Only the Honda Fit EV has free-wheel coasting in the Eco mode when you lift your right foot; and then has all the regen on the brake pedal. Edmunds could help improve all EV's by demonstrating whether easy and consistent free wheel coasting, or lots of regen on the accelerator yield more range.


· · 1 year ago

They missed the real reason the 2011 Leaf quit so soon - premature degradation of battery capacity. -)

· · 1 year ago

They do a poor job in failing to account for or even mention the quick charging option on the LEAF and i-MiEV. Both of those vehicles could have completed their course if they'd availed themselves of the CHAdeMO station at the Residence Inn in Dana Point.

Of course, if the purpose of their test is merely to exhaust the batteries and see where the vehicles roll to a stop along the route then the quick chargers can be skipped. However, failing to mention them at all makes for a poor review.

I tried to post a more extensive comment but their website isn't allowing it.

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