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How EV range is determined and why this process is flawed

Chevrolet Bolt at the EPA’s National Fuel and Emissions Laboratory

How far an electric car can travel on a single charge is one of the most watched numbers in the automotive world.

The official government process used to test and certify these ranges has potential drawbacks.

The US Environmental Protection Agency has been testing vehicles since 1971, but only began testing electric vehicles in 2012. Electric vehicle technology is still fairly new and changing rapidly. EPA engineers say it’s an exciting time, but it can also feel like the “wild west.”

The EPA only inspects a small portion of the entire fleet. The fact that it can test any vehicle at any time forces automakers to meet EPA standards.

Some in the auto industry say the EPA ratings are more accurate than those issued by other government agencies, at least for American roads. But independent groups have found that their own tests produce results that differ from the official EPA range ratings.

Critics say the agency’s labels don’t measure up to those used for gas-powered cars, in part because the tests don’t take into account how people actually drive. The ranges on the labels appear larger than they are. Automakers may also use techniques to inflate range numbers.

Watch the video to learn more.

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