How to Maximize the Range in your Electric Car

Electric vehicles (EVs) are a blast to drive – with instant torque, fast acceleration, and sleek design, it’s no wonder that many are making the switch from traditional gasoline cars. However, when it comes to driving an EV, maximizing your range is key.

Although driving an electric car may seem different from driving an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle, the goal is still the same: to get the most mileage out of every charge. With built-in features to help you achieve this, driving an EV has never been easier.

Whether you’re on a cross-country road trip and want to minimize the number of stops, or simply enjoy the challenge of getting the highest miles per kilowatt-hour (kWh) number, there are several strategies you can employ to extend your EV’s range. In this article, we’ll explore sensible driving habits and factors that can impact your battery’s range, so you can get the most out of every mile.

Know your kWh and your battery

The capacity of an electric vehicle’s (EV) battery is measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). For instance, the 2019 Nissan Leaf has a 62-kWh battery, which enables it to cover an EPA-estimated range of 226 miles on a full charge.

If you want to monitor how efficiently you’re driving, miles per kilowatt-hour is a metric to keep an eye on. This figure indicates the total miles you can travel per kilowatt-hour of charge in your car.

For example, in the 62 kWh 2019 Leaf, if you were driving at a rate of 1 mile per kWh, you’d have a total range of 62 miles (62 x 1 = 62). The EPA-estimated range for this model is based on an average of around 3.6 miles per kWh (calculated by dividing the stated range by the battery size: 226 ÷ 62 = 3.6).

All EVs have a display of this number, usually in the trip settings. Knowing that you’re driving at an average of 3 miles per kWh, you can expect a total range of around 186 miles with a 62-kWh battery (3 x 62 = 186).

Understanding how your driving style affects this number can give you a better sense of your range at all times. For example, on the highway, you may see the figure decrease (because of more acceleration and higher speed), but in urban areas, it may increase (because of slower speed and more frequent braking).

Once you know how the miles per kWh number changes as you drive and what you can achieve on longer trips, you can drive without worrying about running out of charge. Just like with an ICE vehicle, you become familiar with how your car responds to your driving style.

Take it Easy and Relax

Like with traditional gasoline-powered cars, the way you accelerate can significantly impact your electric range. Quick, sudden acceleration can result in a shorter range, while a gentle and gradual acceleration can extend it.

Electric vehicles, such as the Tesla Model S P100D, offer impressive acceleration and can go from zero to 60 mph in as little as 2.5 seconds with the optional Ludicrous mode. However, while it can be tempting to unleash the full power of the vehicle at every stoplight, doing so will quickly drain the battery and decrease your range.

Therefore, it’s best to accelerate gradually and smoothly whenever possible, to help conserve your battery power and maximize your electric range. By learning how to balance speed and efficiency, you can enjoy the benefits of electric driving while getting the most out of your car’s battery.

Use Regenerative Braking

Most electric vehicles have regenerative braking that converts energy from braking into battery charge. Different EV models may have varying levels of regen braking available. While all EVs will recharge the battery when braking, some have special modes that engage regen braking as soon as you lift off the gas pedal. For example, the 2020 Hyundai Kona Electric has paddles behind the steering wheel that allow you to adjust the level of regen braking to your liking.

In contrast to driving an ICE vehicle, where heavy inputs like acceleration and braking should be avoided to save fuel, in an EV, you can brake as much as you need to, as regen braking allows you to recover energy.

Plan Ahead

To optimize your EV’s range, it’s best to adopt a slow and steady driving style as higher speeds lead to more air resistance and increased power consumption. Consider taking slower roads that cover less total distance rather than highways if you’re not in a hurry but want to maximize the mileage per charge. If you must use the highway, avoid driving aggressively and take a more relaxed approach.

On hilly roads, avoid using cruise control as it can use up more battery power. Instead, allow your speed to decrease slightly when going uphill and then regain speed on the decline.

Using less A/C or heat will conserve the car’s battery power. Lowering the A/C temperature can help allocate more power for range instead of cooling or heating the cabin. In warm weather, keep the A/C on but set it to a lower temperature to strike the best balance between comfort and range. Heated seats are a more energy-efficient alternative to turning on the car’s heater during colder weather.

Consider switching to eco mode to optimize your electric car’s range. This mode is available in many EVs and will reduce your acceleration responsiveness while increasing regenerative braking when you release the accelerator. Keep in mind that some eco modes may also limit your A/C use to help you save additional power.

Plan your trips according to the weather to get the most out of your EV’s range. Hot and sunny weather will give you more miles per full charge, whereas cold weather requires your battery to work harder to maintain optimal temperature, leading to reduced range. If you’re planning to drive in the mountains during the summer, where it’s cooler, you may also notice a small difference in range.

Some EVs allow you to precondition your car via a compatible smartphone app before embarking on a long drive. For instance, the 2nd generation MG ZS EV lets you connect to the car and activate the A/C to cool or heat the cabin before you leave, provided that the car is plugged in. This feature can help make the ride more comfortable while maximizing the vehicle’s range.






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