Auto Expert Uncovers Hidden Truth About EV Range Claims - Owners Should Be Seething


President Joe Biden’s administration wants the United States to cut carbon emissions in half by 2030 — and a big part of that plan involves a switchover to electric vehicles.

EVs, we’re told, are the way of the future. Gone are worries about “range anxiety,” we’re told. These vehicles can put in some serious miles on a single charge — and the government’s building more charging infrastructure along the highways every day.

Neil Winton, however, says that’s a load of hooey. Winton is an auto industry analyst and senior contributor to Forbes. He says that while EVs may look ideal if you’re just going by the manufacturer’s spec sheet, the real-world performance of these cars is very different than what’s promised when it comes to range.

(At The Western Journal, we’ve been busy documenting how electric vehicles, however far they’ve come, simply aren’t ready for prime time — and yet, the Democratic Party and the Green New Deal left insists on pushing them on us. We’ll keep bringing America the truth about EVs that the mainstream media doesn’t like to report. You can help by subscribing.)

“A brand-new electric car is gleaming on your driveway and your first reaction is going to be excitement, followed perhaps by a smidgen of smugness,” Winton wrote in a Forbes piece last month.

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“Make sure you enjoy that moment because the next one will be fury after you plug it into your house and the range attained after a full charge has no relation to the number suggested by the dealer, or the one written down in the car’s specification details.”

The problem, Winton says, is that range numbers are derived from driving conditions divorced from real-world driving. Instead, they’re based on the computerized Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicles Test Procedure, or WLTP — a laboratory test that aims to measure and standardize EV range numbers.

This means that the range you get could be, in real-world scenarios, up to 32 percent less than what’s promised. That’s the biggest deviation Winton found when he looked at 20 different EV models in a test published Tuesday. (The big loser was the Mini Electric, which had a WLTP range claim of 145 miles but could only muster 98.5 given real-world battery capacity.)

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However, when you get on the highway, things get worse. In one case — the Polestar 2, manufactured by Volvo’s performance brand — Winton’s test results found drivers would only get about 40 percent of the advertised range.

Why? Well, if “you drive at normal cruising speeds with the air conditioning on, the media system doing its stuff and the heater making you snug,” it’s a drain on the battery that the manufacturer didn’t figure in when it calculated the vehicle’s range numbers.

EVs do worse than advertised on the highway for a number of reasons. For starters, electric motors are far more efficient in stop-and-go driving conditions than during highway driving, partially because of regenerative braking; EVs use the friction caused when you slow your car down to recharge the battery. Braking doesn’t happen much during highway driving, however, which is why the advertised range drops precipitously.

Then there’s the matter of cruising speed on the highway — and the fact it’s almost always higher than the legal limit, no matter where in the world you are.

“‘Normal’ cruising speed in Britain is about 75 mph. The actual legal limit is 70 mph, but the accepted speed which most drivers seem to think will avoid prosecution is about 80 mph,” Winton wrote.

“In mainland Europe, the actual speed limit on highways is 82 mph, so 90 mph should be possible. At these higher speeds the impact on range is even more devastating. In Germany, there are still some unlimited speed sections of motorway.”

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The biggest problem here, Winton says, is that both the automotive media and car buyers are starting to look seriously at EVs. It’s not just early adopters anymore; one British survey found over 50 percent “are more inclined” to buy an electric vehicle, and a study by Boston Consulting found that by 2028, all-electric cars will be the “most popular” vehicles globally.

“The trouble with all these warm feelings is they have no connection to the real world. The undeniably powerful start to electric car sales has been driven by well-heeled early adopters who aren’t too concerned that their EV doesn’t really do what it says on the tin,” Winton wrote. “To own it is to revere it.”

“The value-seeking electric car buyer will demand that if the manufacturer says the battery, fully charged, will offer say 300 miles, it will offer 300 miles,” he continued. “No finagling and bamboozling with concepts like WLTP will be acceptable.”

Some automotive journalists are slowly discovering this dark secret, as well.

Last month, a Wall Street Journal writer described a hellish road trip she took in a brand-new Kia EV, which ended with her spending more time charging the car than sleeping; not only did the vehicle’s battery deplete more quickly than advertised, charging times were much slower than expected.

This, Winton said, is part of why automakers need to come clean about what EVs can and can’t do before they become the default option for the average car-buyer.

“Only real-world data should be used. The manufacturers must come clean about extended motorway fast-lane cruising,” he wrote.

“On most EVs this cuts range by between 30 and 50%. This must be conceded. The impact of cold weather on range can mean up to a 30% range cut. Similarly, the impact of full loads of people and luggage is a reality, and the necessity of regularly filling to only 80% of capacity to protect the life of the battery must be admitted. There reports that tire wear might be excessive because of the huge weight of the batteries, but this currently is only conjecture and needs to be confirmed.”

The chances that this will happen are roughly the same as the chances you will get the advertised range out of an EV’s battery.

The electric car is inherently political. It’s a statement. For Democrats, the electric car’s time has arrived — and Mr. and Mrs. America, turn in your internal combustion engines. Embrace the EV future. Forget about that $5 gas and join the Tesla revolution. (Well, maybe not Tesla; Elon’s been thinking for himself on occasion lately.)

Admitting that these vehicles aren’t the ultra-capable, ultra-green technological miracles that we’d been promised would kill EV momentum, at least among the average buyers. That’s why the WLTP range claims are going to be clung to like a life preserver in a storm. No alterations, no concessions. And if you get bamboozled by these numbers, well, just remember that you were bamboozled in support of a good cause.

If changes aren’t made, owners will be seething at the bait-and-switch — and they’re going to take it out on the politicians who forced the switch upon them in the first place.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture