The EPA lists a maximum range for each electric vehicle along with its city and highway miles-per-gallon equivalent. Right away, you notice a discrepancy between city and highway economy, skewing the opposite way when compared to gasoline vehicles. When EVs are on the highway, they are significantly less efficient than they are in city driving.
Clearly, speed has something to do with how efficient your electric car will be, but the list does not end there. EV drivers have several tricks for getting more out of battery’s charge. Here are five tips for maximizing electric vehicle range before and during your trip.
1. Accelerate smoothly.
In any car, aggressive acceleration leads to lost energy. In an electric vehicle, the drop in economy — and thus overall range — is noticeable when you thrust your foot down on the accelerator. Rather, use the accelerator to slowly reach your ideal cruising speed. Because of the instant torque available in plug-in cars, you will be tempted to let it fly, but this bit of fun is sure to cut down on your range and send you searching for a plug sooner than necessary. Use the “Eco” mode available on most EVs for automatic modifications to your speed.
2. Low top speeds.
In the Ford Focus Electric, the car’s SmartGauge uses the GPS top calculate how many miles will be left in the battery once you arrive at your destination. Depending on how fast you go, you may see more or fewer miles in reserve at arrival. How fast you drive is the biggest reason for losing range on the road. As you increase your speed, wind resistance multiplies outside the car, which drains energy from the battery and shortens your range. Speeds above 55 miles per hour should be avoided.
3. Smart braking.
Electric vehicles use the kinetic energy from braking to build up battery power. Likewise, whenever you take your foot off the accelerator, energy returns to the battery. Smooth braking will get you the most range out of an EV, which makes smart driving even more important. Without reckless acceleration, there will be little need to jam on the brakes and thus more energy available when you want to conserve electricity.
4. Heated seats.
Heating and cooling your EV saps a great deal of energy from the battery. To cut down significantly on the drain of heating the car, opt for heated seats, which uses much less energy and comes standard in models like the Kia Soul EV. Most climate control systems allow drivers to limit heating or cooling to the driver’s seat when you are alone as well. In solo excursions, conserve your range by keeping the climate control to yourself.
5. Climate control during charging.
Smartphone apps are essential parts of the electric vehicle driving experience. You are able to monitor the life of your battery when you leave your car to charge as well as see how much you are paying at public charging stations. To save more battery power, heat or cool your car while it still plugged in using the controls like the ones on the Kia Soul EV app. Once you unplug after the battery is full, you won’t have to waste energy making the car comfortable for passengers.