The big knock against electric vehicles has always been about their range, so much so the term “range anxiety” became a part of the electric vehicle lexicon. If you’re new to electric vehicles (EVs), “range anxiety” is that feeling of dread that bubbles up as the miles of driving range remaining in your car’s battery sinks ever lower and a charger is either a long ways away – or not really available at all. It’s a problem. Or more specifically, it’s a problem right now.
Range anxiety will eventually become a forgotten footnote in the history of transportation as several factors mature: the distance cars can go on a single charge, how fast they can charge, and the buildout of charging infrastructure that more closely resembles the current familiarity of gas stations (hint to oil companies: Install chargers at gas stations). At this time, the longest distance any production electric car can go is just over 400 miles. That’s pretty good, but I can drive that far before lunchtime if need be.
Mercedes-Benz has been pushing the boundaries of the “range” part of the equation with their Vision EQXX research electric car, and it just reeled off nearly 740 miles on a single charge, besting the 620-plus miles it did in one stint back in April. For you metric drivers, that a solid 1,200 and 1,000 kilometers traveled on a charge – very impressive stuff.
What’s even more impressive is that the Vision EQXX isn’t some stripped-down test sled packing more batteries than seating space. The Vision EQXX is a fully realized prototype with an eye-watering interior including an 8K display running the width of the car’s front seats, a sleek body terminating in a slick boat tail of sorts, and it slips through the air more cleanly than a Tesla – or many supercars. It plain looks like the future.
And while it would be easy to knock out 700-plus miles by stuffing the car full of batteries, Mercedes says that the Vision EQXX uses a “sub-100kWh” battery pack. Many Teslas with long range capabilities use a battery pack with 100 kWh capacity of more, so there’s no cheat there.
So how’d they do it? Drove downhill the whole distance? Aired the tires up to 120psi? No and no. The Vision EQXX is highly aerodynamic as noted, and it was driven at legal road speeds, including on the highway, although Mercedes noted that parts of the Autobahn they planned to use were closed at the time. And while the car is not going to take on the Tesla Plaid in a race anytime soon, it’s no slouch, with 241 horsepower on tap to push its 3,900 pounds. Mercedes says the average speed of the drive from Stuttgart, Germany, to Silverstone in the UK was 52mph with a top speed of 87mph. The whole trip took just over 14.5 hours (including a Eurotunnel crossing) but a key stat is that when the car arrived at Silverstone, it had not stopped for charging and still had 87 miles of range showing. Expect longer drives from the Vision EQXX in the near future.
The key takeaway here is that electric cars are quickly ramping up efficiencies and using tech to extend range, even while companies spend billions on battery development to, of course, extend range even further. Bottom line? Outside of long-haul truckers and a select few super-distance drivers, pretty much no one is going to knock out over 750 miles of driving in a day, and if they’re in whatever car inherits the Vision EQXX tech in the near future, it will probably go farther than that anyway. So as a driver, your distance is covered – and range anxiety is over. After charging overnight, your car will be ready to do it all again the next day.
And eventually, when advanced battery technology, EV efficiency measures and charging infrastructure all mature, the only “range anxiety” drivers will experience is how soon they can get to a rest stop washroom – something we already deal with. Enjoy the (long) ride.