Back in the golden age of cars in America (circa 1967, by my reckoning), the magic numbers everyone was talking about were cubic inches and horsepower. In today’s world of electric cars, the most important metric is efficiency. An efficient EV can go further on a given amount of electricity, which can translate to smaller, cheaper batteries, or longer range between charging sessions.
The reason efficiency is so important is because gasoline packs so much energy into every gallon, it doesn’t matter that some (or even a large part) is wasted. In comparison, even the best batteries in electric cars today have a much lower energy density. Look at it this way. The 24 kWh battery in a first generation Nissan LEAF had the same amount of energy as a gallon of gasoline. Leaf necessary be more efficient than a similar gasoline-powered car if it needed to be able to travel a significant distance.
There are different ways to measure efficiency, but for American drivers the standard has become the number of kilowatt hours of electricity needed to drive 100 miles. Cars.com recently did a survey of the most efficient electric cars you can buy in the US based on this metric, and the results are listed below. If your favorite electric vehicle isn’t on the list, it’s because it wasn’t selected.
The most efficient electric cars in the United States
1. Tesla Model 3 RWD 2022 — Energy consumption per 100 miles: 25 kWh. Combined efficiency: 132 mpg-e. Price: $46,190, including $1,200 destination.
2. Lucid Air Grand Touring 2022 with 19 inch wheel — Energy consumption per 100 miles: 26 kWh. Combined efficiency: 131 mpg-e. Price: $139,000, excluding destination.
3. 2022 Chevrolet Bolt — Energy consumption per 100 miles: 28 kWh. Combined efficiency: 120 mpg-e. Price: $32,495, including $995 destination.
4. 2022 Hyundai Kona Electric — Energy consumption per 100 miles: 28 kWh. Combined efficiency: 120 mpg-e. Price: $35,245, including $1,245 destination.
5. Tesla Model S 2022 — Energy consumption per 100 miles: 28 kWh. Combined efficiency: 120 mpg-e. Price: $96,190, including $1,200 destination.
6. 2022 Tesla Model Y Long Range — Energy consumption per 100 miles: 28 kWh. Combined efficiency: 122 mpg-e. Price: $60,190, including $1,200 destination.
7. 2022 Chevrolet Bolt SUV — Energy consumption per 100 miles: 29 kW. Combined efficiency: 115 mpg-e. Price: $34,495, including $995 destination.
8. 2022 Kia EV6 RWD — Energy consumption per 100 miles: 29 kWh. Combined efficiency: 117 mpg-e. Price: $42,115, including $1,215 destination.
9. 2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5 RWD — Energy consumption per 100 miles: 30 kWh. Combined efficiency: 114 mpg-e. Price: $44,895, including $1,245 destination.
ten. 2022 Kia Niro Electric — Energy consumption per 100 miles: 30 kWh. Combined efficiency: 112 mpg-e. Price: $41,205, including $1,215 destination.
Many factors can make an electric car more suitable for a particular buyer than another. Style is important; electronic safety features, including driver assist technology, are a top priority for many. I just read online today the story of a couple who rejected a certain electric vehicle because it had no elbow room for two adults in the back seat when their child seat was installed.
Efficiency may not be at the top of the list for many people considering an electric car, but it’s an important metric for measuring a model’s performance against other models. And that depends on how far you can go on a full charge and how often you’ll need to stop at a charging station during a trip.
If batteries had the same energy density as gasoline, none of this would matter. We could all be driving 97 miles per hour in sub-freezing temperatures and never think about how efficient our car is. But the batteries aren’t there yet – not even close. And so, driving electric cars requires some tweaking to our normally lavish ways. If you’re fully on board with the electric vehicle revolution, you’re on board with this.
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