How far will an electric vehicle go?

General Motors has altered its predicted range for all-electric operation of its new Chevrolet Volt, set to go on sale later this year.

The Detroit giant said September 23 that the Volt will be able to travel between 25 and 50 miles (40-80 km) on battery power alone, but its initial estimates suggested 40 miles (64 km) would be the range.

A company spokesman said that GM wasn't backing away from its 40 mile figure and that the new estimates come as a result of its experiences of testing and driving the Volt.

Some drivers will be able to coax 50 miles out of their vehicles, suggested the firm, but using energy-intensive systems such as air conditioning and heating, as well as driving in cold weather or on hills, will sap the Volt's range to as low as 25 miles.

When the Volt's battery is depleted, a small gas engine kicks in to generate extra power that can take the vehicle a further 300 miles (483 km) on a full tank.

The lower range edges the Volt towards the plug-in hybrid Prius's 13 mile (21 km) all-electric mode, and further from the 90 / 100 mile (144 / 160 km) quoted range of the all-electric Mitsubishi i-MiEV and Nissan Leaf respectively.

However, reports suggest that all electric cars will suffer a considerable decrease in range when using comforts such as heaters and stereo systems.

Quoted Range Estimations

Tesla Roadster - 211 miles / 340 km (EU combined testing)
Nissan Leaf - 100 miles / 160 km (US LA4 testing)
Coda Sedan - 90 - 120 miles / 145 - 193 km (US06 / US LA4 testing)
Mitsubishi i-MiEV - 90 miles / 144 km (EU combined testing)
Chevrolet Volt (extended range) - 25 - 50 miles / 40 - 80 km (US EPA combined testing)

Note: "LA4" reflects city driving, "US06" reflects highway driving, "combined" tests reflect a weighted average of the two)