Electric car ranges have vastly improved since the earliest all-electric vehicles, which offered a range of 30-40 miles on a full charge. As battery capacity and efficiency has increased and charging infrastructure has become more commonplace, long-distance electric car road trips have also become a more common event.

If you drive long distances for work or leisure, or you're planning a long-distance road trip in an electric car this summer, what are the best EVs to lease, hire, or buy?

Let's take a look at some of the best electric cars for long-distance journeys and the top electric car models to cover the most miles before you need to stop and recharge.

There is one caveat.  Manufacturers test their vehicles under controlled conditions and their stated maximum mileages may not always be achieved in “real world” driving conditions.  The number of miles depends on many factors including your own driving style, type of driving (e.g. city, countryside, motorway) use of electronics and features in the car (e.g. air conditioning, heated seats), etc.  It may be worth checking online to see what current owners are saying about their “real world” mileage before committing to any specific vehicle if you frequently drive long distances.  

Longest single-charge EV ranges 2022

The longest single-charge EV ranges in 2022 show just how far electric cars have come. According to the SMMT in the past decade the average range has tripled from 74 miles to almost 260 miles in the past decade and there are 15-times as many models to choose from.

Hyundai KONA Electric

The 64 kWh Hyundai KONA Electric claims a maximum of up to e 300 miles on a single charge. Hyundai dropped the price of the model in April 2021, as well as the 39 kWh KONA Electric, to qualify for the UK government's plug-in car grant. Dropping the price gave it the longest range of any car eligible for the grant at the time.

Although further changes mean the 64 kWh model is no longer eligible, the grant is still (at time of writing)  available on the 39 kWh KONA Electric SE Connect and Premium models, as well as the Hyundai IONIQ Electric Premium.

Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV

The Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV was unveiled in April 2022 and promises to introduce "a new, all-electric era in the upper market". The top-end EQS 450+ has a manufacturer claimed maximum range of 660 km (410 miles) and Mercedes state that it can drive 250 km after a 15-minute top-up charge.

At about 20 kWh per 100 km, the EQS offers impressive range and decent fuel efficiency, so those miles (or kilometres) will also cost you less to cover.

Tesla Model S Plaid

Coming in at a shade below the EQS, the Tesla Model S Plaid offers a manufacturer stated range of up to  396 miles (637 km) with a top speed of up to 200 mph and a 0-60 mph time of less than 2 seconds. The standard Tesla Model S gets even closer to the EQS 450+ with a manufacturer stated range of up to  405 miles.

It's a question of power versus efficiency. The Model S uses Dual Motor All-Wheel Drive to offer the longest single-charge range in the current Tesla line-up, but is limited to peak power of 670 horsepower. In comparison, Tesla state the Model S Plaid loses 9 miles in return for faster acceleration and 1,020 horsepower all the way to its top speed.

Audi e-tron 55 quattro

In October 2021, Audi announced an upgrade for the Audi e-tron 55 quattro - including models already on the road. The release boosted the 2021 model, according to Audi,  to a maximum range of 441 km (274 miles) but could also be installed on models from the previous two years.

The software update added up to 20 km to the maximum range of 2019-20 Audi e-trons, covering about 34,000 vehicles. That's potentially up to 680,000 km extra across all affected e-tron drivers, just from a software patch.

A long-range future for EVs

So where does it end? Unlike internal combustion engines, which have never made it much past 50 mpg fuel efficiency, EVs continue to improve in terms of battery capacity, charging speed, and efficiency in terms of kWh per mile.

The Mercedes-Benz VISION EQXX set an impressive new benchmark in April 2022, covering 1,008 km on a single charge and arriving with 15% still in the tank – enough for another claimed 140 km.

Its average consumption over the journey was 8.7 kWh per 100 km, a fuel efficiency of 7.1 miles per kWh. Announcing the achievement, Mercedes-Benz called it "the longest road trip since the invention of electric mobility" and commented on the cultural importance of being able to "stick a pin in the map and drive".

With mass-market EVs offering ranges reaching into the hundreds of miles, this is no longer limited to concept cars. It’s a reality on many of the top models of electric cars to buy and lease, putting that summer road trip or long-distance commute within reach.

As ever, real world driving conditions mean the maximum ranges are not always achieved, however, the range of electric vehicles is certainly improving, offering the majority of drivers the convenience and efficiency they need on a day-to-day basis. And, with the national EV charging infrastructure set to be accelerated, long-distance EV driving will become much more common place.