The EPA's method for determining electric vehicle range doesn't always provide the most accurate results. As it turns out, the Cadillac Lyriq is a prime example of this. As recently discovered by the State of Charge YouTube channel, one of GM's most popular electric vehicles far outpaces the EPA's estimates, beating them by around 20 miles. That may not seem particularly impressive, but what's interesting is that it does so not in a combined cycle, but strictly on the highway at 70 miles per hour where EVs are the least efficient.
The brand new RWD Lyriq tested has a combined rating of 312 miles on a single charge from its 102-kilowatt-hour battery. Electric vehicles are typically more efficient around town due to regenerative braking, lower aerodynamic drag, and other factors. On the highway, they typically do considerably worse. The range rating from the EPA is a combination of the two figures. The city rating is almost always higher, and the highway rating is almost always lower, although federal regulators apparently do not break out the exact city/highway estimates for the Lyriq.
At 70 mph, the car managed to travel 330 miles on a full charge, and it likely could've gone as far as 10 miles further. That has big implications. If a Lyriq was just used around town, the effective range of the vehicle could be much higher. It gets more interesting from there, though.
The channel's host, Tom, tests all the EVs on his channel on a standard stretch of the New Jersey Turnpike using standard HVAC settings for the sake of consistency. Once his hours of testing the Lyriq are complete, he checks the car's onboard consumption metrics to see how much energy he used. The Lyriq claims he used a total of 103.2 kWh to drive the distance and 1.5 kWh to run the vehicle's HVAC system. That adds up to 104.7 kWh, or more energy than the Lyriq is rated to deliver from its battery.
This is possible because batteries aren't like gas tanks. They don't really contain a fixed amount of power that gets used or doesn't get used. If less current is demanded from a battery, whether it be a single cell or a large pack, its voltage doesn't drop as fast and its usable energy is effectively extended. Batteries are rated to provide a certain amount of power for a certain time. If you go below that rating, you can get more time, and that's what Tom discovered here. By cruising at a constant 70 mph, he wasn't drawing much current from the pack. As such, he was able to squeeze a little bit more out of the system. Check out the spec sheets of various individual battery cells and you'll see this phenomenon in action.
In any case, Tom's testing both clarifies how EVs really work and probably makes the technology more confusing for some people. The bottom line is that when it comes to extremely efficient electric vehicles, how you drive them has a lot more to do with range than what you're driving. If you really try, for instance, you too can get 560 miles out of a Chevy Bolt.
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