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In an era of abundant automotive technology, knowing which features drain your electric vehicle the most is a good idea. If your EV lacks built-in navigation, you might use Apple CarPlay and Apple Maps to navigate unfamiliar territory. However, will using Apple CarPlay increase your risk of getting stranded if your car’s battery is low?

Knowing whether Apple CarPlay or similar features will drain your battery substantially is not only helpful in cases like these. It’s also beneficial to know to help you manage your charging costs over time. Charging a car isn’t free, and when you use certain features regularly, you’ll find yourself charging your EV – and paying more – than you expect.

How much does it cost to power an EV?

First, it’s important to understand how much it costs to fuel your car regularly. To calculate this figure, you’ll want to start with your vehicle’s kilowatt-hours per 100 miles (kWh / 100 miles). As per Edmunds, kWh/100 miles is a measurement you can find in your owner’s manual and your EV’s fuel economy sticker. The U.S. Department of Energy rates EVs using this measure and lists these figures on its website for each EV, as does the EV Database.

You’ll take this figure and multiply it by your electricity rate, which you can find on your monthly bill or utility website. Now, your electricity rate may vary depending on your plan. Some plans charge you more based on how much you use. Others charge you more based on the time of day you use it. Considering the latter scenario, if you charge your EV overnight (which is common), you’ll multiply your average electricity rate overnight by your kWh/100 miles figure to arrive at your average cost.

There are also some free changing stations, but while this is increasingly uncommon, your highest charging-related cost will likely be how much it costs to charge at home. If you’re considering long-term fuel costs, you’ll also want to factor in your price for a home charging setup. Depending on the configuration, you may pay between $200 to over $1,000 for a home charging setup, which you may wish to include in your first-year calculations.

How much energy does Apple CarPlay drain from an EV battery?

The Apple CarPlay icon on a vehicle dashboard display
Apple CarPlay dashboard display | Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

You may be happy to learn that Apple CarPlay and similar apps don’t hugely affect your battery. Using Apple CarPlay mostly drains energy from your smartphone rather than your vehicle. Now, if you are connecting your smartphone with a USB cable and simultaneously charging it while enabling Apple CarPlay, you should expect some loss of electricity. TIME puts that at around 2% for a dead device. 

Considering how much your vehicle uses when you connect your phone and enable the software, you’ll find the costs are comparable to regular radio operation in a gas-powered car. So, how much energy does your car radio use per hour? American Radio Archives says about 10 watts for a digital radio.

Will Apple CarPlay drain my battery quicker and cost me more money?

Let’s do the math to see whether 10 watts is a substantial amount of our EV’s stored electricity. One kilowatt equals 1,000 watts. Just Energy notes that to convert 10 watts into kilowatts, you’d use the formula P(kW) = P(W) / 1,000. Using this formula, you’ll find that you’re using 0.01 kWh per hour of usage, which is a minuscule amount.

Unless you’re driving your EV eight hours a day with Apple CarPlay enabled and your phone charging the whole time, you’re unlikely to feel the effects of the feature on your EV battery. Your battery will expend most of its charge on powering and propelling your vehicle from point A to point B. Even if you’re extremely frugal, it’s hard to see real charging-related savings by being conservative with your Apple CarPlay use.

If you are looking for more substantial savings, you’ll want to limit your use of climate features, which, per Virta, can drain a battery far more rapidly than other automotive tech. In fact, according to Wired, heating and cooling are the fastest battery drainers in an EV after a car’s motor. So, you may want to think twice about using that heated steering wheel if you’ve got a long drive ahead and a half-full battery.


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