Long-Range EVs Are Still a Ways Down the Road, Experts Say

But manufacturers are headed in the right direction

  • A Mercedes-Benz EV just drove for 14.5 hours and 747 miles on a single charge.
  • Experts say this is a great demonstration of future technology but isn’t practical for production vehicles.
  • Before gas cars are overtaken by EVs, we’ll need to see bigger batteries, better infrastructure, and a $25K price point.
The Vision EQXX electric vehicle.

Mercedes Benz

An electric concept car from Mercedes-Benz just drove 747 miles on a single charge, but experts aren't ready to declare gas-powered cars extinct.

Mercedes-Benz's Vision EQXX spent 14.5 hours on the road, hitting 747 miles on the odometer before needing a recharge. That puts it hundreds of miles ahead of current EVs on the market, including the popular Tesla Model S, which maxes out at 405 miles on a full battery. There's a big caveat to the news, however, as the Vision EQXX isn't a production vehicle. Consumers won't be able to get their hands on the long-range model, and experts don't expect we'll see this type of performance in a production car anytime soon.

"Batteries are demonstrating incremental improvements, but we're still a long way from a range of 747 miles," John G. Kassakian, professor emeritus of electrical engineering at MIT, told Lifewire in an email. "A car with that range would certainly help adoption."

Forget About Bigger Batteries, We Need More EV Charging Stations

Developing larger batteries for EVs is key to reducing range anxiety in consumers—that is, ensuring they have enough juice to get where they're going without getting stranded on the highway. But at some point, larger batteries result in diminishing returns.

"[The Vision EQXX] can be driven for 14 hours," Pareekh Jain, CEO and analyst at EIIRTrend, told Lifewire via email. "Humans don't need that much range."

Someone plugging a charger into an EV.

Kaisersosa67 / Getty Images

Instead, Jain believes building an expansive charging network is crucial to the future of electric vehicles and their dominance over gas-powered alternatives. Specifically, Jain told Lifewire that a charging network two to three times denser than gas stations would be optimal, as this would help negate the long charging time of electric vehicles, giving customers more options as to when (and where) they refuel.

Don’t Forget About Safety

All vehicles are inherently dangerous, but some customers are growing increasingly leery about the safety of EVs. There's been no shortage of news stories about electric cars catching fire, and this bad press is yet another obstacle for electric vehicles to navigate before surpassing gas-powered vehicles.

"Safety is also a concern," Jain told Lifewire. "Customers have seen many videos of fires in EV cars, so that is also one area of hesitation."

This might just be a PR issue, however, as there's growing evidence suggesting EVs are just as safe as cars with traditional combustion engines. A blog post last year from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) pointed out that several electric vehicles earned a Top Safety Pick—indicating a vehicle that's scored good ratings in six different tests.

"It's fantastic to see more proof that these vehicles are as safe as or safer than gasoline- and diesel-powered cars," David Harkey, IIHS president, said in the post. "We can now say with confidence that making the U.S. fleet more environmentally friendly doesn't require any compromises in terms of safety."

A white EV plugged in at a charging station.

seksan Mongkhonkhamsao / Getty Images

The Price Is Wrong

Bigger batteries, expanded charging infrastructure, and safety are critical to the future of EVs, but so too is pricing. A Kelley Blue Book report from January 2022 discovered that the average EV transaction ran $63,821, compared to just $25,954 for a compact car and $33,414 for a compact SUV/crossover.

Unless EV prices fall in line with traditional, gas-powered cars, it won't matter how robust our charging infrastructure is or how far they can travel on a full battery. Jain believes a "price range of 25K for global markets" is about when we can expect to see EVs compete directly with gas vehicles.

Once customers can find affordable EVs with big batteries (and we have the infrastructure to support all those cars), only then will gas-powered vehicles slowly disappear. But according to Dr. Kassakian, don't expect that to happen for quite a while. Engineers are still trying to find an affordable way to increase EV range, and until that discovery is made, the combustion engine will continue to reign supreme.

"Unless there's a breakthrough in chemistry (which doesn't appear to be on the horizon), it will probably be a decade or more before we start approaching that [747-mile] range in a midsize car."

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