Despite the numerous advantages of electric vehicles, EV range still can’t compare to the range of gas vehicles. While most gas-powered vehicles can carry 300-mile (610km) drives on a single tank, only the latest EVs can reach this figure. Even so, technology is constantly improving, and EVs will soon outpace even the most fuel-efficient gas vehicles.
But what can you do in the meantime to increase your EV’s range? You’re not alone if you often get a case of “battery anxiety” while driving around town or on long trips. Charging an electric car can take a long time, and charging stations can be few and far between on long road trips.
Instead of wasting time at a public charging station, you can get to your destination in one shot if you can conserve battery life. It all comes down to maximizing your range. Having a few tricks up your sleeve is handy when trying to squeeze every last mile out of your EV’s range. Let’s review a few tips to get the most range in an electric vehicle.
Some of these tips might be common sense, while others might strike you as surprising. Depending on your specific car and driving habits, you may find that you’re not getting the full potential out of your electric vehicle range. So what are the best ways to increase your EV range?
#1: Keep It in Eco Mode
Let’s start with the most obvious. Eco mode is a standard setting for almost all EVs and gas vehicles, too. When your car is in eco mode, it will trim the acceleration and heating power levels, resulting in more efficient usage. Many EVs have eco mode enabled by default, but you can often spot it in your car’s infotainment or instrument cluster.
Your car might feel slightly sluggish, but you can expect a much more efficient ride than in standard or sport modes. While your car is in eco mode, take care to drive as smoothly as possible. Don’t speed up and slow down too much if you don’t have to, since this will use up more energy.
Instead, carry a gentle cruising momentum as often as possible—through curves, roundabouts, and on the highway. You’ll enjoy the added benefit of giving your passengers a more comfortable ride, too.
#2: Slow Down a Little for Better EV Range
Putting the pedal to the medal will not conserve energy, so try to take it easy. EVs typically use single-speed transmissions, which use more power the faster the car goes. To conserve as much electricity as you can, keep your speed as low as possible.
Maintaining a steady speed means your EV doesn’t have to work as hard to accelerate and decelerate. While you shouldn’t drive like a snail, you should try to keep your speed in check. Reducing your speed by even 10mph can lead to a reasonable percentage of energy savings.
This might be difficult for some of the more enthusiastic drivers. There’s no denying that EVs are downright fast. As tempting as it is to stomp the gas pedal and launch your EV, especially in sporty models like the BMW i4 or Tesla Model 3, slower driving leads to a more extended range.
#3: Limit Your A/C and Climate Control
An electric vehicle’s climate control system is one of the most significant resource hogs in the car. If you’re not careful, you will find that the climate control system cuts into your EV’s battery and range. Heating and cooling your car is a drain on the battery, especially if you have either of them turned all the way to the max.
Turning the A/C down in the summer and opening up the windows will save your battery and keep you cool. If you’re driving faster, the open windows may affect the aerodynamics, but not nearly enough to impact the range noticeably.
The heater is just as guilty as the A/C for consuming too much power. This one can be a difficult pill to swallow, especially if you like being comfortable. Nobody likes turning down the heat when it’s cold outside. While you don’t need to turn the heater off entirely, just using it on a lower setting can add up to some savings.
To make up for it, you can turn on your car’s heated seats or heated steering wheel if you have them. This is a much more efficient way to stay warm in the winter, since your heater doesn’t have to tire itself out trying to heat the whole cabin.
#4: Plan Your Route Efficiently for the Best EV Range
Planning the most fuel-efficient route is one of the best ways to conserve energy and get the most out of your EV range. Fortunately, modern navigation systems can plan efficient routes for you, and tools like Google Maps make it easy to pick the best one.
Spending a few minutes planning the most efficient route can save you the time you would have wasted if you needed to stop somewhere and charge your EV. Instead of hanging around waiting for your car to charge, you can be at your destination sooner.
A few factors play into route planning. Firstly, you don’t want to go through an area with a lot of stop-and-go traffic, which will wear your battery down quickly. However, you also don’t want to spend too much time on high-speed routes. Driving too fast can also cut into your EV range.
The ideal route is one where you have minimal slowdowns and cross traffic but don’t need to drive too fast. Making sure there are a few charging stations along the way also helps defeat range anxiety. It is wise to have a backup just in case you can’t reach your destination on a single charge.
#5: Make Sure to Use Regenerative Braking
One of the most innovative features of electric vehicles is regenerative braking. With this system, your car sends a little energy back into the battery every time you hit the brakes. While this doesn’t generate impressive power, it can add up, especially if your regenerative braking is set to a higher setting.
Many EVs let you configure your regenerative braking settings to different levels. In eco mode, you’ll notice that regenerative braking produces more power output. Additionally, braking over a more extended time and bringing your car to a gentler stop gives your brakes more time to produce more power.
Some electric vehicles, like the Nissan Leaf, can operate in one-pedal mode. This means that your car will start braking as soon as you lift your foot off the accelerator pedal. As a result, your car will maximize its regenerative braking forces, leading to the absolute most efficient setup. You might notice that your car coasts to nearly a dead stop without ever touching the brakes.
#6: Condition Your Car and Battery to Boost Your EV Range
Conditioning refers to the process of warming up your car via your home or apartment’s electricity before hitting the road. On a cold day, you can warm up the car, defrost the windows, and turn on the heated seats from the comfort of your living room.
Your EV will use your home electricity to warm up, thus saving battery power for your drive. This works the same way on hot days. Before you unplug your EV, set the A/C to the temperature you want, so the battery has less work to do.
In regards to the battery, conditioning is a slightly different process. Generally speaking, you want to keep your battery between a certain percentage to get the most range out of it and make it last as long as possible. Depleting your battery to zero and charging it to 100% can harm its health.
By keeping your battery levels between 20% and 80%, you condition your battery for maximum efficiency. Letting your battery drop below 20% can cause your cells to degrade faster when you charge it back up.
#7: Watch Your Car’s Weight
Keeping your car as light as possible will go a long way in increasing your range. Your EV battery is happier when it doesn’t have to work as hard to move the extra weight. Slimming down your ride is a step in the right direction if you’re trying to squeeze in those extra miles.
Start with the easy stuff. Clean out your trunk and ensure you aren’t carrying anything unnecessary. A backseat full of trash adds weight, so keeping your interior pristine makes for a cleaner environment and better efficiency.
When your car is as clean as a whistle, you can trim additional weight by removing any roof racks or bicycle mounts. While luggage racks can come in handy for some extra storage, they don’t help range efficiency. Removing these obstructions will add a few miles to your range, thanks to the improved aerodynamics.