Important questions to ask when renting an electric vehicle

Mar 7, 2023

Over the last few years, interest in and adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) has risen. In 2022, Europe and China have shown adoption rates between 20 to 25 percent, while the US has shown EV adoption rates between 5 to 7 percent. Many people rent an EV during holidays or business travel to test out before committing to purchasing, or as part of their company’s sustainability measures to reduce carbon emissions in travel. However, there are some stumbling blocks that can prevent people from buying or even renting – particularly range performance.

What is range performance?

As driving EVs is new to many, there are concerns about renting them. Probably the biggest concern is ‘range performance’ – otherwise known as how far you can get between charges. To find out what tools are available to understand range performance and what the Norwegian Automobile Federation is doing to improve on them, here’s a quick overview.

Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure

To help consumers understand expected range performance, the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) was created. WLTP aims to mimic realistic driving behaviour in different scenarios (such as highway driving vs city traffic driving, ) to provide an estimation of the maximum range specific car models can achieve.

While WLTP gives a good indication of EV range, it is not a perfect metric. For example, tests are performed at temperatures close to the European average (14°c), but temperature has an impact on range, and lower temperatures reduce overall range.

Another factor that impacts results is the fact that cars used for testing are stripped of mirrors, air conditioners, and radios,  whereas in real life a car may be equipped with these instruments and more.

Given the limitations, does this mean WLTP Range indications can’t be trusted? The Norwegian Automobile Federation (NAF) put this to the test.

Sense checking the WLTP

NAF gives car manufacturers the opportunity to have their EVs tested under both summer and winter conditions. Additionally, fully-equipped cars are used to complete the tests. NAF has completed winter and summer tests for 64 different car models since 2021 and their results are interesting.

On NAF’s summer tests only 20 out of 64 car models reported a range below the WLTP value. On average, the tested cars outperformed their WLTP range by 4%. NAF’s winter tests show an average range reduction of 20% for the tested EV models. While this sounds like a big jump, this is not too far off from the 15% range reduction you would see for petrol/gasoline cars at similar low temperatures.

Driving Range

While temperature does have an impact on EV range performance, it does not mean that EVs are significantly less usable in colder weather.

If you are considering buying or renting an EV, WLTP will give you a good indication of whether the range specifications will meet your requirements. However, it is important to keep environmental factors like temperature, terrain, and type of driving in mind.