Real-world performance of battery electric passenger cars in China: Energy consumption, range, and charging patterns

Zero-emission vehicles

The data for this report comes from the open lab of the National Big Data Alliance of New Energy Vehicles (NDANEV), an organization that aims to better monitor and manage the operation of new energy vehicles (NEVs). The open lab of NDANEV has been in operation since the beginning of 2017 and the number of vehicles connected exceeds 9.2 million, which is about 90% of China’s NEV stock. For this study, ICCT set the scope, metrics to investigate, and methodology based on the parameters that are contained in the event-level data, and the open lab of NDANEV processed the raw data based on the methodology we specified and shared the aggregated data.

We identified the 10 best-selling passenger car models in China during the period from 2017 to the end of 2021 and the data set analyzed included only private-use vehicles of those 10 models that were registered in five cities in 2021: Shenyang, Beijing, Hangzhou, Chengdu, and Guangzhou. That yielded a total data set of over 140,000 vehicles and the operations data analyzed is from full calendar year 2021.

Results show that of the parameters examined, low ambient temperature had the most adverse impact on both energy consumption and range. On average, “very cold” (≤ -7 °C) and “cold” conditions (≤ 0 °C) reduced electric range by 30% to 50%, and 20% to 35%, respectively, compared to nominal values. On average, the vehicles’ range was about 15% lower than nominal values, and the reduction in range was greater during low-temperature and high-speed driving. Additionally, the charging patterns observed seem to suggest range anxiety and that drivers charged when there was an opportunity, regardless of remaining state of charge. The prevalence of public charger type (fast versus slow) and vehicle range both appear to contribute to drivers’ decisions about which type of charger to use.

Given these results, and to help narrow the gap between nominal and real-world performance, policymakers in China might consider introducing increasingly tightened efficiency standards that include realistic and robust test procedures and incorporating these results into official vehicle efficiency labels for consumer awareness. Further, vehicle and parts manufacturers could prioritize adopting and improving vehicle efficiency and thermal control technologies of their NEVs, and automakers could proactively provide consumers with real-world performance data.