Can the Music You Listen to Hurt Your EV’s Range?

Most of us love to have something on in the car while we’re driving. Road-trip playlists, favorite podcasts for our commute to the office, power ballads that sound best when sung alone in a car—music sets the scene and passes the time. We know that listening to music too loudly can prove fatal, but did you know that the music you listen to may also be ruining your EV’s driving range?

A recent scientific study shows that your tunes and your EV range could be more closely tied than you think. Here’s how.

Blonde woman listening to upbeat music, dancing and whipping her hair. She's wearing white headphones, a green shirt, and black pants. She holds a smartphone in her right hand.
The affects of music have been well-documented | Bruce Mars via Unsplash

Science says that your music affects your driving habits

Kia UK partnered with a company that specializes in acoustics, noise, psychoacoustics and sounds science to produce a study about music and driving—specifically related to EV range. The study was overseen by Dr. Duncan Williams, a leading authority in the matter. Dr. Williams founded WaveTrace, a psychoacoustic consultancy specializing in biometric tracking of human responses to sound and music stimuli.

The study found that real-world EV range can be affected by the music that’s playing in the cabin because of how music affects driving habits.

 It makes sense. If you think about when people turn down the radio when watching for a highway exit or address, even subconsciously, it’s because we know that music can be distracting. 

Image of a man driving a car. The focus is on his left hand, which holds the wheel. He's wearing a watch, and there's music on the car radio
Driving with music | Why Kei via Unsplash

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Details of the EV range study

Participants in the study were drivers with no experience driving an EV. Researchers chose participants without EV experience so they would have no knowledge of how to extend range or work the system. They set up participants with a wearable biometric measuring device that tracked changes in skin temperature, changes in sweat, and heart rate.

The drivers piloted a Kia EV6 GT-Line S, an all-electric crossover with a range of up to 328 miles—a good range distance for an EV like this. 

Participants drove along a specific 18-mile route listening to a fixed playlist that was created by the researchers. Factors like volume were accounted for. Researchers monitored biometric readings during the drive to see how the drivers’ bodies reacted differently to different songs, including Beethoven’s ‘Symphony No. 9’.

The results were conclusive.   

Drivers who listened to pop limited their EV range

On the flipside, the study found that pop music—like The Weeknd’s ‘Blinding Lights’—tended to “provoke intense emotion” and cause “more spirited and energetic driving styles.”

Other popular songs from Kanye West and Adele were also shown to create these excitable driving styles, which led to behaviors which can limit EV range. These can also lead to other bad driving habits, too, though those weren’t addressed in the study.

“In short: if you want to go further, listen to the likes of Beethoven and other relaxing classical music; if you’re not worried about range dropping a little more quickly, by all means put on some more high tempo tracks.”

Dr. Duncan Williams

Try it for yourself. Bop along to “Blinding Lights” and try not to get a bit of a lead foot.

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Other ways you may be hurting your EV’s range

The Renault Group offers up 5 additional factors that could impact your mileage and EV range: 

So, if you do need to rock out to your favorite pop, rock, soul ballad, or other up-tempo song, go for it. The Kia EV6 can accommodate a bit of range drop.

  1. Road topography: Steep or long stretches of incline can drain your battery faster.
  2. Vehicle weight: EVs with excessive or unnecessary weight in the cabin and trunk can destroy your EV range.
  3. Using the heat or A/C: Your car’s climate control takes a heavier toll on your battery than you might think.
  4. Tire condition and PSI: Poor-condition tires or under-inflated tires that don’t meet the recommended PSI are bad for EV range.
  5. Battery wear: Modern EV batteries last longer than ever before, but eventually they do wear out and minimize EV range.

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Need to jam to your favorite tunes? The Kia EV6 can regain its EV range in just 18 minutes

Most studies sponsored by a company are, in part, advertising for that company. While results showing that The Weeknd is worse for your EV range than Beethoven aren’t necessarily a selling point for the new Kia EV6, the hard mention of how fast it can recharge definitely is.

Kia claims that the EV6, the brand’s first dedicated EV, can go from 10% to 80% charge in as little as 18 minutes when properly charged. This is thanks to its 800V ultra-fast charging capabilities. A fully charged model boasts an EV range of up to 328 miles—you’ll need one long playlist for that drive.

What effect do podcasts have on EV range and driving habits? We’ll need to wait for the next study to come out.

Kia EV6, an all-electric crossover with an EV range of over 300 miles
Kia EV6, a crossover with an EV range of 328 miles | Clive Brunskill/Getty Images for Kia

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