Anxiety over electric car range is one of the biggest stumbling blocks to owning an EV. Given that it can take several hours to top up an empty battery, it’s important to plan out your route each time you get behind the wheel — and modify your driving habits, if necessary — to ensure there’s enough juice to get you from point A to point B and back again.
Check out these tips designed to help you extend your battery range as much as possible and avoid being stranded on longer electric car trips.
1. Go Easy on the AC
Ambient temperature can have a big effect on electric car range, not just because it impacts the battery’s ability to retain a charge, but also because the vehicle’s climate control system can drain energy in a big way. Running the air conditioner in an electric car can seriously sap power, so minimize the amount of cool air you’re demanding from the system whenever possible by keeping the windows or sunroof open instead. The same applies to heat: It’s much more efficient for an electric car to warm up a heated seat than to blow hot air, so opt for the former, if possible.
2. Take Advantage of Hills
Your EV’s plug-in charging system is complemented by a regenerative braking system that transforms the kinetic energy generated while slowing the vehicle into electricity that is fed directly into the battery. You can take serious advantage of this chance to extend electric car range by planning out your stops and riding the brakes as long as possible when coasting to a halt. This is especially true on hills, where the gravity assist can add free miles to your driving range if carefully managed.
3. Slow and Steady Acceleration
Just as in a gas-powered car, an electric vehicle is bound by the laws of physics. This means that it takes more energy to accelerate a given mass quickly than it does to do it more slowly. If you are judicious with your application of the accelerator pedal, you stand a better chance of maximizing your electric car range than if you mash the pedal and zoom forward from every stop.
Understanding how your EV’s charging system works and properly planning your routes and driving habits can help mitigate many of the barriers imposed by limited charging infrastructure and long plug-in times.
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Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Having been bitten by the car bug at a young age, I spent my formative years surrounded by Studebakers at car shows across Quebec and the northeastern United States. Over ten years of racing, restoring, and obsessing over automobiles lead me to balance science writing and automotive journalism full time. I currently contribute as an editor to several online and print automotive publications, and I also write and consult for the pharmaceutical and medical device industry.