Each model of EV has a mileage range that the manufacturer claims it can travel on a single full charge. The realistic amount of miles that you get from each charge is likely to be lower than this figure, as there are a variety of aspects that can shorten an EVs battery range.
Of course, over time the battery will degrade, resulting in a gradually lower range. The good news is that many EV batteries have a relatively long lifespan, and many manufacturers are so confident of this that they often give 8-10 years of guarantee on the battery. Extreme temperatures can also have an impact, both freezing cold and sweltering heat.
Each drive is different, and you may find that your EV can make it much further on one route than another. This is because any action that requires more power, such as driving at high speeds or up steeper inclines uses more energy than flatter terrain and lower speeds.
With these points in mind, here are eight tips to help you extend the range of your EV battery.
Similarly to petrol and diesel vehicles that guzzle more fuel if you drive in a less efficient way, an EV battery can be conserved in the same way. Sudden acceleration and hard breaking put much more strain on the battery than slower, more controlled movements. If you try to maintain a steady speed, making gradual changes where necessary, less energy will be used.
Avoiding excessive idling can also have a positive effect on your battery life, although this isn’t always possible in areas of heavy traffic. If you are able to, plan your route to avoid heavy traffic areas and constant changes in speed to reduce the strain on your battery and increase the mileage.
Driving in eco mode is another great way to keep the demand on your battery lower. The vehicle doesn’t need to work as hard when driving in eco mode, putting less pressure on the battery and increasing the range.
Maintain optimum tyre pressure
Driving with underinflated tires can cause increased resistance and friction, reducing the efficiency of the vehicle and decreasing range. Keeping your tyres pumped up to the optimum tyre pressure can help increase your battery range.
Purchasing an air compressor to keep in your vehicle or at home is a great way to manage your tyre pressure as and when you need it, rather than requiring a detour to a petrol or service station.
Use regenerative braking
Many EV models have regenerative braking, a system that recaptures energy whenever the brake pedal is pressed. Whenever this occurs, the battery is slowly recharged.
Although this only makes a small difference, when you’re sitting in traffic for a while, which would usually lower the battery, you’ll be slowly regenerating charge instead.
Protect your EV in extreme temperatures
Depending on where in the world you live, temperatures of either extreme may be a common occurrence or few and far between. Colder weather conditions can temporarily reduce battery life, due to the chemical reactions in the battery slowing down. Exceptionally hot weather can degrade the battery, causing long-term effects on the battery range.
Park your car in a garage whenever possible to protect it from freezing temperatures and harsher heat. If you do not have a garage, consider purchasing a car cover that can protect your car from frost when parked outdoors, and try and park your EV in a shaded area if the weather is particularly warm.
Reduce the weight of the vehicle
The heavier the vehicle, the quicker the battery will lose charge. If you’re having an EV built brand new, consider choosing a lighter material for some components, such as the wheels and seats. If you plan to modify your EV in any way, consider how you can do so without adding too much to the overall weight of the vehicle, and if you can modify it in a way that reduces the weight, even better!
Try to keep your EV free from unnecessary load. Do not keep heavy items in the boot, backseat or footwells, as this can all contribute to the overall weight of the vehicle.
Most vehicle manufacturers will take aerodynamics into consideration when designing each model, but this can be disturbed when owners decide to modify and add additional components to the outside of the vehicle.
Avoid unnecessary components on the exterior of the vehicle. Not only can these add weight, but they can also increase wind resistance, putting more pressure on the battery when driving.
Be smart when heating and cooling
Using the AC or heating is a huge drain on battery life. If your EV is charged at home, consider using both the pre-heat and pre-cooling functions (if your vehicle is able to) whilst the car is plugged in at home. This can allow you to heat or cool the vehicle before setting off on your journey, using mains electricity rather than the battery.
If you need extra heat after setting off, functions like a heated steering wheel or heated seats are much more efficient than the internal heating system, using less charge. If you need to cool down whilst driving, opening the windows is a great way to do so without using unnecessary battery life. It’s important to note that having your windows down when driving at higher speeds can impact the aerodynamics of the vehicle, costing you more energy, so try to avoid this if you’re conserving charge.
Don’t fully charge your EV
This last tip may appear counterproductive, as charging your vehicle to less than 100% will obviously leave you with less than a full charge for your journey.
Although you won’t see instant results, charging your vehicle up to a maximum of 80% can help preserve your battery in the long run. The last 20% often charges slower, heating the battery up more in the process. This can slowly degrade the battery over time, so if you can manage your journey with 80% charge, it’s advisable to do so.
Be aware that none of these tips are miracle fixes for battery range, but implementing some, or all, will make a notable difference to the mileage you get from your vehicle, as well as increasing the lifespan of your battery.
Matthew Gibbons is the Managing Director of Plug&Drive, a UK manufacturer and installer of electric vehicle charge points.