Our Swiss partner club, TCS (Touring Club Switzerland), was commissioned by the association Euroconsumers and A Bon Entendeur to perform a comparative test of three modern electric cars.
These tests have shown that current electric models offer an acceptable battery life, but their consumption clearly exceeds the values given by manufacturers.
The TCS tested and compared a Renault Zoe, a Nissan Leaf and an Opel Ampera-e. The batteries fitted to these vehicles had a capacity of 30 kWh to 60 kWh and guaranteed a range of up to 520 km, according to the manufacturers. As for fuel engines, the battery life is determined on a test bench in laboratory conditions. The objective of the TCS test was to determine the battery life and consumption under practical conditions.
The test cars were charged if the car was to be taken for a holiday trip: in addition to the driver, they carried the weight of a passenger (75 kg), two children (two times 30 kg) and luggage (20 kg). The air conditioner and heater were set at a comfortable temperature of 22°C for an average outdoor temperature of 10°C. The cars were subjected to uniform conditions, which means they drove all three until the ‘reduced engine power’ warning light was displayed on the dashboard, indicating a low level of battery life. Then, the batteries were recharged in the exact same way at the accredited charging facility operated by the TCS in Emmen (Switzerland). The test runs were conducted in convoy. Each test included three laps of the city, country roads and the motorway. The driver and the position of the car in the convoy were changed before each new trip to standardise the effects of driving style and rolling resistance.
In total, the cars travelled 124 km. Then, the batteries were recharged with calibrated measuring devices at an accredited TCS charging facility.
Main result: the models examined under the test conditions offer only about 58% of the battery life guaranteed by manufacturers for a charged battery. This means 144 km for the Nissan Leaf, 232 km for the Renault Zoe and 304 km for the Opel Ampera-e.
Modern electric cars can now have an acceptable range even under demanding conditions. This progress comes with a high price tag, however, with prices ranging from CHF 38,595 to 41,900 (€33,103 to €35,940), meaning these models are still CHF10,000 to 15,000 (€8,580 to €12,865) dearer than comparable classic cars of the same category. A difference which is offset nonetheless during their lifetime by lower maintenance and operating costs. In addition, many electric cars are still not suitable for long vacation trips, which means planning for extended periods of travel. This disadvantage, however, will be gradually mitigated by creating a wider network of easy-to-access charging stations.