Right Driver

How do you get the best range from your electric car?

Have you bought an electric car but you have a bit of ‘range anxiety’ – the niggling worry that you might not make it to the next charging station? You’re not alone. Even though the UK has a lot of charging options in cities and large towns, if you’re in the middle of the Lincolnshire Fens, your options are much more scarce.

It’s important that you know how you can get the best range from your electric car. This will also save you money in the long run because you’re not having to charge your car so much.

1. Anticipate what’s happening ahead

Driving smoothly won’t only endear your passengers to your driving style, it will also give you much better range. The first rule of driving smoothly is to anticipate what’s happening ahead. This means that if you see there’s a green light in the distance that’s been green a while, then you can anticipate it’ll probably turn red before you get there, so there’s no point in rushing up to it, just coast and brake gently to charge your battery.

You can also use anticipation so that you can continue moving through an intersection or roundabout without stopping by adjusting your speed so you get there when there’s a gap in the traffic; getting moving from a stop takes a lot of energy.

Anticipating the braking and acceleration of vehicles ahead means you can smooth out your speed; every time you change your speed, you lose energy.

2. Brake early

The earlier you can brake for a hazard ahead, the better the charging opportunity for your battery. Harsh braking doesn’t charge your battery any more than moderate braking because there’s a limit to how much power the battery can accept at any one time.

3. Accelerate gently

Harsh acceleration depletes the battery quickly. Smooth, consistent acceleration is ideal. You want to move away with enough speed so that you’re not holding up the people behind you, but not so much speed that you’re leaving them in the dust.

4. Keep at least 2 seconds behind the vehicle in front

The further the distance between you and the vehicle in front, the easier it is for you to smooth out any changes in speed, thus reducing the amount of acceleration you’ll need to do.

5. Take advantages of downhills to charge your battery

Accelerating uphill uses more battery power. If you can maintain a consistent, reasonable speed uphill, then coast downhill and use either engine braking or the footbrake to maintain your speed, you’ll get more mileage. In this case, gravity is helping you.

6. Keep to a reasonable speed

The air resistance on a car increase exponentially. Doubling your speed doesn’t double the air resistance, it quadruples it! You’ll get better mileage at 60mph rather than 70mph. However, don’t be an obstruction to other vehicles.

7. Check your tyre pressures

When cold, your tyre pressures should be at least the minimum recommended by the manufacturer. Softer tyres will give you a slightly more comfortable ride, but will cause more tyre degradation, and worse economy. Harder tyres roll more easily, but don’t over-inflate your tyres by much otherwise you’ll cause uneven wear, plus you’ll have less grip (especially in wet weather); there’s even more risk of aquaplaning.

8. Avoid the rush hour stop/start

Start earlier or later to give yourself a smoother run in traffic.

9. Travel when it’s slightly warmer

You’ll get more range from your battery in slightly warmer conditions, but not when it’s too hot.

10. Cruise control is not always the best for range

Cruise control will try to maintain your speed. In hilly regions, cruise control will always use too much acceleration to maintain your speed up hills, and it won’t be able to anticipate the top of the hills where you can come off the throttle and start coasting a bit. Cruise control is best for flatter terrain where the speed is consistent.

11. Control the level of regenerative braking

If you have an option to change the regenerative braking levels, you can do this. It’s useful in hilly situations and means you can save your brake linings, too.

12. Turn off auxiliary features

Anything that uses power in your car is pulling that power from the battery. This includes the air conditioning, the radio and any auxiliary equipment. If you turn this off, you’ll get more range.

13. Change to eco mode

If your car has an eco mode, you can use it to get more range. Eco mode tends to change the throttle response, turn off the air conditioning.

14. Use on-street or shopping centre chargers for a quick top-up

If available, you can do a quick charge to give yourself a bit of extra range.

Darren has owned several companies in the automotive, advertising and education industries. He has run driving theory educational websites since 2010.

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