Can EVs Run On Empty?

Thu 11th Aug 2022

Those who practice the dark arts of motoring will claim to know to the exact mile how much driving they have in their car when the petrol gauge is on empty. But while many vehicles have a knack of running on vapours, you would assume that an electric battery vehicle is a bit more of an exact science.

It’s generally assumed when an EV dashboard says you have no more range, then that’s it, you have no more driving left in the tank. However, new research from What Car? has found that not all EVs are created equal, and that some even give you a few more miles, even when there is zero shown on the clock.

The analysis found that the BMW i4 gives the driver a bonus 19 miles when the onboard computer reports zero range left. Ther German model was the best performing of the ten most recent EVs tested, and it’s worth noting that not all cars deliver the same. Perhaps surprisingly, BMW’s EV stablemate, the iX3 can only give you five additional miles. So perhaps the best advice for EV drivers is to treat the onboard computer with some respect, and trust that if you are getting anywhere near close to zero it’s not worth the trauma of trying to track down an available public charger.

“The fear of what will happen if you run out of charge in an electric car continues to put many people off making the switch, but our test showed that you not only get plenty of warning, but that even when the range readout hits zero, you've still got plenty of time to make it to a refuge area or find somewhere else safe to stop,” said What Car? Editor, Steve Huntingford.

While petrol car owners may boast that they get many more miles when the red light comes on, the additional range isn’t that significant, with independent data from suggesting that the best performing car in tests is the VW Golf, which can keep going for an average of 44 miles when running on empty.