Electric Vehicles: Is There Home on the Range?
Electric vehicles (EVs) are taking the automotive world by storm. Nearly every major automotive manufacturer has publicly committed significant investments toward electrifying their offerings by 2030.
However, for many consumers considering the switch, “range anxiety” is still a big concern. In case you haven’t heard what that is, you have already experienced if you’re considered a purchase soon. Range Anxiety is the fear of running out of power while driving without being able to find a charging point anywhere in sight.
In this article, we’ll look at the range in real-world vs. advertised applications, as well as supply some tips on ways to maximize your EVs daily capacity.
When it comes to real-world range, climate plays a prominent role in battery performance. When conducting range studies, manufacturers utilize mild temperatures and flat terrain. Geography allows EV batteries to extract the maximum potential range out of their vehicles. However, conditions aren’t always that ideal, which can result in a significant impact on useful range.
A study performed by the Idaho National Labs found that EVs can lose 25 percent of their rated distance at freezing temperatures. Likewise, excessive heat will have similar impacts on a vehicle’s battery range, causing those in warmer climates to experience less real-world distance than advertised.
Even though automotive manufacturers are improving battery technology to mitigate the effects of extreme temperatures, electric vehicles should still be a consideration for your buying future.
Like an ICE vehicle, the person’s driving style behind the wheel can significantly affect an EV’s actual driving range. Drivers who tend to accelerate sharply from a dead stop will cause the vehicle to take advantage of more energy than those who accelerate smoothly. The same holds for drivers with a lead foot compared to those who drive at reasonable, steady speeds.
When it comes to stopping, drivers who tend to ride the brake will see less range than those who take advantage of the vehicle’s regenerative braking system. That advanced technology transforms the vehicle’s kinetic energy into electricity to charge its battery.
It’s often known as “one-pedal driving” because you engage the process by simply letting off the accelerator and letting the regenerative system slow the vehicle. Those who choose to ride the brake instead lose out on the added range regenerative braking can provide.
In addition to the range decrease caused by extreme temperatures, another issue could create problems for drivers in those climates as accessories such as air conditioning and heat will also change their available range. Unlike ICE vehicles, cabin heating and cooling, including heated & cooled seats and steering wheels, all require electricity to work.
Additionally, any accessory usage from the onboard outlets available in some vehicles will further decrease range. While there are general settings you can control in the car to keep accessories from draining the battery, it still needs to be watched.
Healthy Habits to Maximize Range
While it’s no secret the range experienced in the application will vary from the advertised range from the manufacturer, there are still several things you can do to maximize the range of your electric vehicle. The practice of these tips varies in climates and other conditions, but understanding these tips will help extend the range of any EV.
For those in cold or hot climates, preconditioning is an invaluable tool to extend the range of your EV. Preconditioning allows the driver to pre-heat or pre-cool their cabin to the best temperatures before departure. Often controlled through an app in advance, preconditioning not only makes your cabin more comfortable but also heats or cools the vehicle’s battery to help expand range.
Practice Optimal Driving Habits
As mentioned earlier, poor driving habits such as sudden acceleration, speeding, and hard braking can significantly decrease a vehicle’s range. To help your EV extend its distance and usage, practice laying off the accelerator, utilizing regenerative braking to the maximum, or maintaining reasonable speeds.
If you’re one of those people who tend to carry a bunch of useless weight in the trunk or back seat of your vehicle, you may want to reconsider that habit when using an electric car. The more weight your vehicle carries, the more energy will need to propel it. So, get those golf clubs, tools, or appliances out of the car unless you need them. After all, that’s why you have a garage.
Be Smart About Accessory Usage
Since accessory usage puts a strain on the battery, try to minimize use wherever possible. Try rolling down the windows or using the sunroof instead of turning on the air conditioning if your climate allows.
If it’s a chilly day, instead of heating the entire vehicle, turn on only the heated seats and steering wheel as a compromise to keep you comfortable without blasting the heat. These simple tweaks to your daily habits can have significant impacts on your vehicle’s overall range.