Here's how to get the max miles out of your EV.
Though some of the latest electric vehicles can run for more than 200 miles on a charge, so-called range anxiety remains a common malady among EV owners. It can be nerve-wracking to drive with one eye on the road and another on a vehicle’s state-of-charge gauge, and nobody wants to wind up stranded at the side of the road with a depleted battery.
Fortunately, it’s easy to wring maximum miles out of a charge and even extend an EV’s range far beyond its rated distance. Here are 10 reasonably simple ways to do it:
1. DRIVE SMOOTHLY
Simply put, lead-footed driving will drain your EV’s battery at an accelerated rate. It may be tempting to leverage an EV’s immediate torque for quick launches, but it’s more prudent to take it easy when accelerating from a standing start.
2. SLOW DOWN
Try to keep your speed under 60 mph whenever possible. You’ll not only avoid getting a speeding ticket, you’ll bolster your battery range in the process. The Department of Energy says you’ll use 14% less energy by reducing your speed by 10 mph. If your EV has an “Eco” mode, engage it for more gentle acceleration; if it has a sport mode that enlivens things, keep it switched off.
3. MAXIMIZE REGENERATIVE BRAKING
Whenever possible, leverage your EV’s energy-recovering regenerative braking function as you come to a stop, and use the brakes only when necessary. Enable your car’s maximum regenerative setting to send extra power back to the vehicle’s batteries while decelerating.
4. GO EASY ON THE HEAT
Running an EV’s heater, especially at full blast, puts a big drain on battery power. In the winter, dial down the climate control and instead rely on the heated seats and heated steering wheel (if your vehicle is so equipped) to keep things toasty, which uses far less energy. Also, pre-heat your car while it’s plugged in so you can use the climate control less while driving.
5. BE COOL WITH THE AC
Likewise, operating the air conditioning consumes battery power at a rapid rate. Try running only the fan, and not the compressor whenever possible; driving with the windows open is an obvious alternative. Unfortunately, the latter will take a toll on your vehicle’s aerodynamics at higher speeds and, in turn, reduce its operating range slightly. That’s because the more aerodynamic “drag” that’s placed on a vehicle, the more energy it takes to run it, especially at higher speeds. Still, operating the AC at full chill will drain the battery far quicker than will driving with the windows down. Again, pre-cool the car in summer months while it’s charging to help reduce the need to run the AC once you hit the road.
6. TEND TO TIRES
Sources suggest that over 25% of all vehicles on the road have improperly inflated tires. As with a conventional auto, driving an EV with under-inflated tires will not only increase its energy consumption, but can lead to uneven and/or premature tread wear. Check the air pressure frequently using a simple tire gauge, as it can vary by an average of one PSI (pound per square inch) with every 10-degree (Fahrenheit) change in air temperature. Have the tires properly inflated according to the PSI recommended by the automaker. This information is usually noted on a sticker that’s affixed to the driver’s-side door frame.
7. TRAVEL LIGHT
As any automotive engineer will tell you, reducing a vehicle’s weight is the easiest way to boost its efficiency. To that end, get the junk out of the trunk, as carrying an additional 100 pounds of cargo can increase a vehicle’s energy consumption by 1-2% percent.
8. KEEP IT SLICK
Avoid installing exterior accessories like roof racks and cargo carriers on your EV. Again, the aforementioned aerodynamic drag such items create will cause added energy consumption at higher speeds.
9. PLAN A MORE-EFFICIENT ROUTE
It may take less time to get to a given destination by driving on the highway, but you can help maximize your car’s operating range by instead choosing a route that allows you to drive steadily at lower speeds. Avoid areas known for heavy traffic. Traversing steep grades likewise uses added energy, so avoid hilly or mountainous areas if possible. If your EV has a navigation system that can suggest energy-efficient routes, be sure to use it.
10. TIME YOUR CHARGE
You may not want to keep your car plugged into its charger whenever it’s in the garage. That's because most EV batteries will slowly self-discharge when they’ve finished charging. You may be able to recover a few extra miles of range by timing the charge so the battery pack is at full strength just before you hit the road. This can also be advantageous to the battery’s long-term health, and if your electricity provider offers a lower rate for off-peak use, it can save you a few bucks in the process.
As always, MYEV.com can provide you with other pertinent information about buying and owning electric vehicles, and is the Internet's top free marketplace for buying and selling a used EV.