The Case for Sub-200 Mile Range Electric Cars

“How far does it go?”. It is one of the most asked questions surrounding electric vehicles (EVs). A few years ago, it was a valid concern for many shoppers. Today, thanks to technological advances, EVs can travel well over 250 miles. Many new models can travel over 300, 400, and even 500 miles on a single charge! 

Range anxiety, the effect one has when they fear their vehicle will run out of energy, is slowly becoming less of a concern for EV buyers. Electric cars today can easily handle everyday commutes, regional driving, and even the occasional road trip. This is partly thanks to the ever-expanding nationwide fast charging networks of Tesla, Electrify America, and others. . 

Automakers and battery suppliers have found ways to lower the cost of battery backs and increase vehicle efficiency, which ultimately leads to more range for less cost. Plus, as more people buy EVs, more and more investments are made into producing more packs, which also contribute to lower costs. For example, in 2011, the Nissan Leaf started at $33,000 and traveled a mere 73 miles. Today, that same vehicle starts at $27,000 and travels 149 miles on a single charge. 

2011 Nissan Leaf

In fact, EV battery pack costs have decreased dramatically over the years. Per Bloomberg NEF, battery packs have decreased in price from $684/kWh in 2013 down to $132/kWh in 2021. Analysts predict these costs will continue to decrease over the next decade and the world transitions to electric. 

With all that being said, does every car need to have more than 200 or 300 miles of range? Our argument is no, a sub-200 mile range electric car is perfectly acceptable, and often, desirable for many households. Here’s why. 

The Average Commute is Less Than 40 Miles

Per the U.S. Census Bureau, the average American commute is 39 miles. Therefore, any EV on the market today can easily cover the daily work commute and then some. Even if you consider factors such as cold weather or highway driving speeds, every new EV sold today can accommodate the weekly driving need for most people. As the average price for gas hits record highs, it very well could pay to go electric. 

Multi-Vehicle Households

But what about the other longer trips? For those not interested in utilizing the nationwide public fast charging stations, use a gas car or a long-range EV as the primary “long distance” vehicle and a short-range EV for daily commuting or in-town trips. According to a report by KPMG in 2018, 52% of American households have two or more vehicles. This makes it really easy for one of the vehicles to be a sub-200 mile range EV.

Cheaper Vehicle Cost Lead to Greater EV Adoption Rates

Shorter range EVs are inherently cheaper since they contain fewer batteries. As such, they are more affordable. With greater affordability, more and more households can make the switch to electric. And as many studies have shown, EVs cost less to own compared to gas thanks to the lower cost of maintenance and greater energy efficiency. 

If we are serious about everyone driving EVs for lower emissions, we need to have cheaper vehicles. This is especially true as vehicle prices are increasing due to limited supply. 

What Are the Available Sub-200 Mile Range Electric Cars?

Below is a list of the available short-range EVs and their starting MSRP. As you can see, considering the federal tax credit, many of these vehicles are at or near $20,000. At this price point, these EVs can make a very affordable option to many households. This is especially true as the average new car sale is over $45,000 now. In addition, there may be further rebates offered by states, electric utility companies, or local jurisdictions to help drive down the cost even further. 

VehicleRangeStarting MSRPCost After Federal Tax Credit
Mazda CX-30 EV100$33,470$25,970
Mini Cooper SE114$29,990$22,490
Nissan Leaf149$27,400$19,900
Hyundai Ioniq Electric170$33,245$25,475
Nissan Leaf
Nissan Leaf | Nissan

If interested in a used EV, there are many more options as several of the early electric cars offered less than 200 miles of range. These vehicles include but are not limited to, the Kia Soul EV, BMW i3, Toyota RAV4 EV, Mitsubishi i-MiEV, and Chevy Spark EV.