How can I increase the range of my electric car? There are a number of ways to increase the range of your EV, including making sure you have correct tire pressures, use regenerative engine braking, keeping your car well maintained and others we have included here.
Today I’m giving you five tips to maximize the range from your EV.
- Slow Down
First of all, and this will work whatever vehicle you’re in, slow down. The optimum speed for efficiency varies between cars, in EVs, this mainly depends on aerodynamic factors, but regardless, slowing down by five miles per hour or about eight kilometers per hour will gain new range.
Why? While all moving vehicles are subject to drag as they force their way through the air, and drag is roughly proportional to the square of speed.
So traveling a little slower can have an exponential effect on your energy consumption, particularly in less aerodynamic vehicles.
That slab front has a real aerodynamic hit, so when you cut a few miles off your speed you’ll gain them back in your range. An extension to this is to coast when possible, unlike your old-fashioned gas-powered vehicle where it still burns fuel at idle, in an EV you when you’re coasting down a hill or on the flat you can use no energy at all.
How can you get to this mystical state? The trick is to gently get your vehicle up to speed or a couple of miles an hour above your target speed then back off the power until you’re no longer accelerating.
You don’t want the regeneration system to turn on if you have it enabled, some EV’s have the option to turn regeneration off and that makes it much easier, in that case, you can just lift your foot off the gas.
At any rate, you should now be coasting along using either no or minimal power. Most EVs have some indication of how much power you are using, and that should be at zero. This way you can conserve that energy for when you need it.
There are some people who recommend putting your EV in neutral for optimum coasting, beyond the safety considerations do know that in many places this is illegal, for those of you who are used to pulse and glide in ice vehicles that can actually reduce your range in an EV
That’s because pulse and glide take advantage of efficiency, or perhaps inefficiency quirks that are specific to ice vehicles and don’t apply two EV’s. So you can actually use more power that way,
So just use that right pedal gently, keep an eye on what’s ahead so you drive smoothly and go a smidge slower, you’ll get a few extra miles out of each charge.
So you’re coasting down the hills and you’re dry like a 55 mile-per-hour saint, your range still isn’t all it could be. well, it’s time for your second tip.
2. Maintain Tire Pressures
Poorly inflated tires can cause around a 6% increase in rolling resistance, and with modern radial tires, they can look fully inflated even when the pressure is very low. Not only can this lead to poor handling, it can also significantly impact your range so make sure you keep that your tires fully inflated.
Don’t rely on the gauges in gas station forecourts, air pumps there can often be wrong sometimes by a fairly significant amount. Instead, buy yourself a good quality digital gauge and use that to check the pressure, and if your car has a tire pressure monitoring system doesn’t rely on it to tell you your tires need pumping up.
If you’re going to pump up your tires at home do be aware that many modern 12-volt tire pumps draw a significant amount of power and should be connected either directly to the 12-volt battery, or to the jump-starting terminals and used only when the car is switched on.
Still not going quite as far as you’d like?
3. Keep Your Vehicle Maintained
Third but linked to the second tip is don’t skimp on the maintenance. With more and more EV’s hitting the used market and many passing on to second or third owners it’s easy for maintenance to get forgotten, especially because EV’s seem to take so little maintenance.
While it’s frustrating to pay for what may feel like nothing, there’s no oil to change and little to grease, and sometimes it looks like plugging in a computer and telling you the car is fine, which is something that you already knew, is all that they’ve done. But when a good garage services a car those multi-point checks they do help catch problems before their disasters.
In an EV a sticking brake pad or worn suspension parts will substantially decrease your range, even before they’ve had an impact on your safety. So make sure you get those checks done and the problems fixed.
Okay, so everything’s in tip-top shape now and you’re traveling so slowly the lunar herself has turned up to ask you to speed up the chariot, what else can you do to eke a few extra miles out?
4. Maximize Regenerative Braking
Well, most vehicles have options for regen, that is capturing energy that would be lost when slowing down, mainly through friction in the brake pads and instead of using that to charge the battery.
Use regenerative braking wisely. Out on the freeway, you generally don’t want much in the way of regenerative braking . Why? Well, because you’re driving so smoothly you shouldn’t be needing it, but in city driving, regenerative braking is handy and can regain you some of those electrons you wasted speeding up.
The trick with regen is to use each mode appropriately, our EV could almost be one pedal-driven using the B mode. In the city out on the freeway the minimal regen mode was ideal, so take your car out, find somewhere safe and have a play get used to the modes.
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It’s got work out what you need to tweak in your driving style and what your car needs getting the maximum number of electrons doing motive work.
On which note in at number five but no means a new entry, if your car has preconditioning make use of it.
5. Use Preconditioning
Heat or cool your car before you set off, whether or not you have a shiny heat pump or like the Leaf S a resistive heater. Either way, you can benefit from not wasting battery power on heating and cooling the car, instead draw that power from the wall while your car is connected to a power source.
In general, for vehicles with heat pumps, it’s better to keep the pump operating than turn it off, then back on. Doing that uses a lot more power than just leaving it running at a low level.
So rather than whacking the aircon to max then turning it off, get the level about right and then adjust it in small increments.
With resistive heaters and standard air conditioners, it’s a little more tricky, running them can cost you around one mile per minute that they’re on, recirculating the in-car air will help with that and help you get the maximum range if you’re needing the aircon or the heating.
Some vehicles have zone-based heating systems with heated seats and heated steering wheels, you can use these to avoid heating the whole vehicle if you don’t have to and that will save you some of those precious electrons.
And of course, if you’re moving slowly enough in the summer you can just open the windows. However, at a speed that’s rapidly going to cost you in terms of increased drag which would take us back to number one.
So that’s our top tips, of course, there are lots of other things that you can do clear out the junk from your trunk, plan your route in advance to avoid massive Hills and make sure you’re charged just before you leave.
We have a video on the best tires you can buy from your EV here.
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