Six tips to maximise EV range
Maximising electric vehicle range is not simply a question of driving the vehicle with the biggest battery pack. Driving style and optimising on-board EV technology can have a profound impact on the range of a vehicle in between recharges.
Fleet Europe spoke to Bob Saynor, consultant, Energy Saving Trust, about the best techniques to drive as far as possible per charge. His advice is ideal for circulating to company car and van drivers getting behind the wheel of an EV for the first time.
1. Regenerative braking
“For urban driving, the key to driving an EV efficiently is making the most of the regenerative braking, or ‘regen’ as it’s generally known,” says Saynor. “If you do all your slowing down through regen, you can convert up to around three-quarters of a vehicle’s momentum back into battery charge. It is best to anticipate the road and other road users as far ahead as possible and develop the habit of regulating your speed when you can with the position of the accelerator pedal, rather than by applying the conventional brakes. Almost all EVs allow the driver to change the level of regen. Usually, this feature is separate from the driving mode selection, which most notably affects acceleration rates. For a driver that is familiar with EVs, it’s generally better to stick in the highest level of regen.
There’s no disadvantage to doing this as the actual level of regen at any one time is governed by the accelerator position, and it means that when you come off the accelerator, you’ll be able to do more of your slowing through the regen.
Drivers that are not familiar with EVs, especially experienced drivers that have only recently made the switch to EV, need to be a little careful as they may find themselves lifting off the accelerator and braking more quickly than intended, which could have safety implications. While a driver is getting accustomed to driving an EV, it may be wise to use the lower levels of regen.”
“On the motorway or the open road, speed is the key factor as higher speeds have a greater negative effect on EV range and energy consumption than they do on conventional vehicles,” says Saynor. “For example, driving at 70mph vs 50mph would decrease a petrol or diesel car’s MPG by around 15%, but would reduce an EV’s range by around 36%. This doesn’t mean EVs are unsuitable for the motorway, although it is something drivers need to be aware of, to inform their choice of EV as well as their driving style.”
“Another key factor is heating,” says Saynor. “Range is greatly reduced when the heating is turned on. Many EVs now have heat pumps – a more efficient form of electrical heating – but the range-reducing effect of using the heating is still quite large.”
4. Air con
“Air conditioning also decreases EV range, but not to the same extent as heating,” says Saynor. “The effects of other electrical systems and ancillary loads is smaller again.”
5. Driving style
“The amount that changing a driving style will influence range depends on several factors, including how the driver drives in the first place,” says Saynor. “During Energy Saving Trust’s work with EVs, we have seen drivers increase their range by between 15 - 20% after efficient driving training. Hard acceleration will use more energy than more gentle acceleration, although the energy consumption penalty for hard acceleration is less marked in an EV than they in a conventional petrol or diesel vehicle.”
6. Be aero efficient
“Removing roof racks, roof boxes etc will make a notable difference to EV range on the motorway and on other fast roads but will make a much smaller difference for urban driving,” says Saynor.
The Energy Saving Trust is holding free electric vehicle courses in selected areas across England in March 2022 for SMEs, covering vehicle choice, recharging, TCO and EV driver training. For details, visit energysavingtrust.org.uk