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Range Relativity of electric Vehicles

In 2011, Derby Cycle placed the 18 Ah battery on to the market. Forced by the company, the sales argument „range“ got a great deal of attention. This year, the 25 Ah battery will follow. Yet we all know, the range of electric bikes is relative. It is influenced by (...)

(...) many different parameters, e.g. wind direction, ascending slope, muscle power of the person who rides the pedelec, road surface, battery temperature, tire pressure, and a lot more.

There are manufacturers who put vehicles on to the market which reach less than 30 km in urban traffic. Nevertheless, these electric bikes are promoted far beyond 100 km cycle range per charged battery.

Range Specifications are relative
Car owners know that specifications about range per tank contents are not necessarily reachable in everyday life. But why do we accept those specifications more easily although they are so far from reality? The answer is the existence of a fast charging network everywhere on the planet enabling to refuel cars again and again. At least, this is true for Central Europe.

How to refill Range?
There are three different possibilities to refill the range of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles such as pedelecs:

A) Using the provided battery charger - in general, this takes some hours
B) Using an external fast charger - in general huge, heavy, and expensive
C) Replacing the empty battery with a fully loaded battery

Today, the industry standard of pedelecs, electric scooters, and electric cars is the version A). Because of human desire for „safety and freedom“, the result is to boost the capacity of the batteries. Therefore, it is comprehensible, that manufacturers use this fact for marketing purposes. Unfortunately, this project has not yet been realised.

In 2007, in the occasion of a press conference with the Lord Mayor of Stuttgart, version C) was introduced, in collaboration with Gepida and HTEnergy. Unfortunately, this project was not realised after all.

The idea of the project comprises a standardised exchange battery and a BOT (Build-operate-transfer) model. Mission of the BOT model is to take over the ownership of the battery. Today, chances for realisation of the project are bad. This is predominantly due to the fact that the vehicle manufacturers prefer a unique identity sustaining battery for their vehicles.

At this stage, there are almost 3000 different types of batteries on the world market  - and new ones come out every day. Hence, a standardisation is moving beyond reach. Anyhow, one day it could become interesting again: As soon as the energy density is high enough to be accommodated in a battery. The battery would also have to be thumb size and thus no longer a matter of design.

Which system will prevail medium-term or long-term remains exciting.

>> Report on the project from 2007

Real-Life Example: How far within 24 h?
With my electric car, a Citroen Saxo Electrique, made in Europe in the 1990s, it is easy to answer this question: At best 300 - 400 km. Optimal and foresighted manner of driving preconditioned, the range of this car is 100 km per charged battery.

Recently, some young Dutch guys proved this fact by a 24 hour road trip challenge with an electric vehicle. Their question: How far can we drive within 24 h using fast charging?

Michiel Langezaal, Wouter Robers, and Lars Bech documented their experiment by the following video:

>> 24 h EV Road Trip (You Tube)

They drove the car cross-country using the available fast charging infrastructure based on the Japanese standard CHAdeMO. The charging method CHAdeMO enables to recharge batteries within 20 minutes.

Japan is the country of realized visions. In 1992, the Japanese company Yamaha was the first to implement the idea of pedelecs. Apart from that, the first fast chargeable electric cars were realized in that country.

Influence of fast charging
Despite a displayed remaining range of 132 km, air conditioning, normal highway speeds and traffic holdups, Michiel Langezaal, Wouter Robers, and Lars Bech managed to drive 1,254 km within 24 hours. This means, they increased the range tenfold due to fast charging. They even found out that drinking coffee takes about 20 minutes which is enough time for recharging the required energy.

This example shows the importance of the surroundings, particularly the vehicles, the technology, and the infrastructure.
For this reason, the EnergyBus organization shares a vision - in callaboration with tourism, power industry, safety-, electrical-, and drive engineering - of an infrastructure with fast charging stations.

>> EnergyBus Flyer (PDF)

>> Charge-Lock Cable for LEVs

Text: Hannes Neupert
Picture: Ondra Veltrusky

Copy: Angela Budde

23 January 2012
Last update: 24 January 2012



7 - 12 September 2021, IAA, Munich, Testtrack