As lithium battery cells are produced in growing quantities, and research into improving them continues, they’re become cheaper and more energy dense. These changes mean the batteries powering our electric vehicles hold more kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy and are achieving longer ranges per charge, making them more practical for more people.
We expect this trend to continue for a while, though eventually it will make sense to cap the number of kWh a car might have. Then, reducing the physical size and weight of the battery packs will take precedence, which will also contribute to further increases in efficiency and, therefore, range. Until we get there, we’re keeping an eye on which vehicles have the biggest batteries as that is a great indicator of range and relative price.
Now, we should note that since a number of new vehicles with large battery packs are poised to arrive over the next year or so, we’ll be updating this list from time to time to keep you up to speed with this developing market. Also, since some vehicles have more than one battery size option, we are limiting their appearance to one instance, represented by its largest available pack. Keeping all that in mind, let’s take a look at the top 7 vehicles available in the U.S. today, according to the amount of energy their batteries will hold. (*Note – You’ll find battery size and much more in our Compare EVs page here).
7. 2018 Ford Focus Electric – 33.5 kWh
The Ford Focus Electric has been around since December of 2011, but got a 47 percent increase to its battery for the 2017 model year. That’s enough juice to earn a 115-mile range rating from the EPA. It just edges out the BMW i3 with its 33.2 kWh pack, but with only 1,817 examples moved in all of 2017, it’s hardly a sales champ. By contrast, the i3, with only 107-mile EPA range and $44,450 base MSRP, sold 6,276 copies. The Ford Focus Electric starts at $29,120 before incentives.
6. 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf – 35.8 kWh
Like the Ford Focus Electric, the Volkswagen e-Golf is built on the bones of an internal-combustion-powered model. Still, engineers have figured out how to squeeze a 35.8 kWh battery into this vehicle, despite it not being originally designed to accommodate an electric drivetrain. Starting at $30,495 before incentives, the 2017 e-Golf (there is no 2018 model), offers 125 miles of range, as rated by the EPA.
5. 2018 Nissan LEAF – 40 kWh
The 2018 Nissan LEAF is a thoroughly refreshed update of the original we’ve loved since December of 2010. Besides an exterior that strongly aligns with the design language of many of its Nissan stablemates, the latest LEAF packs on an additional 10 kWh to the 30 kWh battery of the 2017 version. Though it has a variant arriving with the next year that will boast a 60 kWh pack, this first new LEAF is a pretty good value, starting at $29,990 and offering an EPA-rated 151 miles of range.
4. 2018 Chevy Bolt – 60 kWh
General Motors was seen as a little late to the all-electric game, its public relations nightmare EV1 experiment aside, preferring to pursue the plug-in market with its unique Chevy Volt. It made up for lost time by surpassing the almost every all electric out there with the Chevy Bolt and its 60 kWh battery selling 23,297 examples — more than double the sales of the Nissan LEAF — in 2017. The electric hatch wears an MSRP of $36,620 and boasts an EPA range rating of 238 miles.
3. 2018 Tesla Model 3 Long Range – 80.5 kWh
The latest offering from California electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla is the Model 3 Long Range, which it began delivering last July. Now, this sedan may be known as the “affordable Tesla,” with a starting price of $35,000, but that’s actually the price point for the Model 3 Standard Battery version. To get 80.5 kWh and the EPA-rated 310 miles of range that comes with it will cost an extra $9,000, putting its starting price $44,000 before incentives.
2. 2018 Tesla Model X 100D – 100 kWh
Technically speaking, this electric SUV has the same size battery as our number one spot position holder, but since it doesn’t go as far on a charge, we’re giving it the number 2 spot. The Tesla Model X, with its signature falcon-wing rear-passenger doors, is the first all-electric SUV and is available in several configurations: the 75D, with a 75 kWh battery; the 100D, the range king; and the P100D, the performance version, which, although it has the same 100 kWh battery as the non-performance 100D, loses six miles of range due to increased power output. Starting at $96,000, it delivers an impressive 295 miles of EPA-rated range.
1. 2018 Tesla Model S 100D – 100 kWh
Tesla Model S first launched in 2012 with an 85 kWh pack providing power. Groundbreaking for the time, it has since climbed up to 100 kWh in size, though, like its Model X sibling, is also currently available in a 75 kWh and a 100 kWh performance version. The Model S 100D — the “D” stands for dual motor, it’s all-wheel drive — boasts an awesome 335 miles of range, as rated by the EPA, and starts at $94,000 before incentives.