Maximising Electric Car Range: Top 6 Tips

Mercedes-Benz EQS electric Saloon


Overview


If this article had been scripted three years ago, the ‘helpful tips for optimising the range of an electric car’ would have been very different. The latest generation of battery-electric vehicles (BEVs), also referred to as pure electric cars, offer a real-world electric range that firmly discards ‘range anxiety’ to the archives of history.

Though not all electric cars are developed with the objective of delivering the longest range, many electric vehicles (EVs) currently available, offer a zero-emission electric range over 200 miles (WLTP). In particular, in the premium electric car segment, we have witnessed a significant increase in the size of the onboard EV battery and e-range.

London To Edinburgh: 400 Miles (source: The AA)

A 100 kWh + electric car battery size, delivering an electric range over 350 miles is fast becoming the norm. The all-electric Mercedes-Benz EQS saloon is a good example. The e-car has onboard a 108.4 kWh EV battery, with a WLTP quoted range up to 453 miles on a full charge. Let us put this in context. The distance between London and Edinburgh is 400 miles. Even accounting for real-world driving conditions, the EQS should be able to achieve this on a single charge. Now that is impressive! To learn all about the longest range electric cars, simply follow this link.

BEVs positioned primarily for the urban consumer, incorporate a smaller EV battery and deliver a shorter electric range. This is understandable, given that most urban commutes are short journey’s i.e. school-run, grocery store, local gym, high street etc. These city electric cars usually incorporate an onboard EV battery smaller than 50 kWh to reduce the weight of the EV, increase range efficiency, and of course, to reduce the EV retail price (EV batteries are not cheap!).

The all-electric compact Fiat 500e hatchback is a good example. The EV has a 42 kWh onboard EV battery with a claimed WLTP range up to 199 miles. The Fiat EV is also available with a 24 kWh onboard EV battery with an electric range up to 118 miles. Perfectly suited for urban needs!

It does not matter, if your EV has a 350 miles electric range or a 100 miles emission-free range. All electric car owners will benefit from inculcating good ‘habits’ when driving, to get the maximum EV range. By adopting a ‘best practice’ approach to driving an electric car, the benefits gained are beyond just range increase. A better approach to driving increases the longevity of the vehicle and also reduces risks commonly associated with road transportation.



Electric Cars: The Basics


For those of you new to zero-emission electric driving, we would recommend a read of the following articles:


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Top Tips: Electric Car Range Optimisation


Articles written in previous years to boost EV range have suggested not to use onboard cabin services like cooling, heating, heated seats etc. Some have even suggested driving with the windows down in winter and summer weather conditions, to reduce the electric energy consumption of the electric car. Though a few years ago, these were helpful tips, in 2023, thankfully, such suggestions hold limited validity, if any at all. You can comfortably drive and electric car with all it has to offer in terms of onboard services and features, without hysterically glancing every nanosecond at the instrument panel indicating the available e-range!

For those new to electric driving, the real-world electric range will be lower than the manufacturers quoted WLTP e-range. Though, the new Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) laboratory test, is an improvement from the older NEDC testing procedures, real-world driving conditions will always differ. In general, a number of factors impact the EVs electric range. Some factors are in your control, while others are not. These include: weather, road conditions, payload, speed, driving profile, tyre size and more! Having said that, the top tips below to maximise EV range will prove helpful for all electric car drivers!


Electric Car Range Simulator
Electric Car Range Simulator (credit: Mercedes-Benz)

Top Tips:
Driving Profile (Acceleration/ Braking):Though one can be easily tempted to take advantage of the immediate torque delivery of pure electric cars, and accelerate at every traffic light junction, it is best to keep a driving profile, that reflects, smoother acceleration and braking. Both, increased acceleration and harsh braking, use more energy! Moreover, one of the many advantages of electric driving is a smoother drive. So make full use of it!
Speed: The correlation between speed and EV battery range is simple to understand. The higher the speed, the lower the available electric range. Cars driven at lower speeds offer improved vehicle efficiency. We are not suggesting driving at a snail’s pace, but find a sensible speed for your journey. If driving in city centres, like London, best to keep to 20 – 30 miles, but always below the speed limit. For motorway driving, clearly, the speed will be higher. In general, driving an EV between 50 – 60 mph is best!
Payload: Another correlation that is easy to grasp. The heavier the weight of the electric vehicle, the greater the negative impact on the available electric range. Many of us are guilty of leaving items in the car that are not of immediate use. Best to remove such items to reduce the weight of the EV and increase the efficiency of the e-range. Of course, a secondary benefit is that there is more space available in the vehicle!
Regenerative Braking:In general, electric cars offer various levels ‘profiles’ of regenerative braking. We recommend using the regen profile that offers maximum recuperation. Regenerative braking is the process that captures and converts the kinetic energy from the motion of a vehicle into chemical energy for storage in an onboard vehicle battery. The chemical energy stored is reused for acceleration and driving.
Preconditioning: The latest generation of electric cars offer a ‘precondition’ mode to heat or cool the interior cabin of the electric vehicle. On cold and hot days, where the use of onboard services like heating and cooling is a must, best to precondition the EV while still connected to the residential EV charger (i.e. to the grid or on-site renewable energy generation).
Tyres:This is true of all types of vehicles, to include electric vehicles and internal combustion engine (ICE) petrol and diesel vehicles. Incorrect tyre pressure reduces the efficiency of the vehicle. In the case of electric cars, tyres not inflated to appropriate levels will reduce the electric range. We encourage inculcating a habit of checking the tyre pressure on a regular basis. It is also worth noting that the larger a tyre, the lower the range. So when buying an electric car, don’t be easily ‘seduced’ into buying the largest alloy wheels!

While e-zoomed uses reasonable efforts to provide accurate and up-to-date information, some of the information provided is gathered from third parties and has not been independently verified by e-zoomed. While the information from the third party sources is believed to be reliable, no warranty, express or implied, is made by e-zoomed regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of any information. This disclaimer applies to both isolated and aggregate uses of this information.


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Author

Ashvin Suri

Ashvin has been involved with the renewables, energy efficiency and infrastructure sectors since 2006. He is passionate about the transition to a low-carbon economy and electric transportation. Ashvin commenced his career in 1994, working with US investment banks in New York. Post his MBA from the London Business School (1996-1998), he continued to work in investment banking at Flemings (London) and JPMorgan (London). His roles included corporate finance advisory, M&A and capital raising. He has been involved across diverse industry sectors, to include engineering, aerospace, oil & gas, airports and automotive across Asia and Europe. In 2010, he co-founded a solar development platform, for large scale ground and roof solar projects to include the UK, Italy, Germany and France. He has also advised on various renewable energy (wind and solar) utility scale projects working with global institutional investors and independent power producers (IPP’s) in the renewable energy sector. He has also advised in key international markets like India, to include advising the TVS Group, a multi-billion dollar industrial and automotive group in India. Ashvin has also advised Indian Energy, an IPP backed by Guggenheim (a US$ 165 billion fund). He has also advised AMIH, a US$ 2 billion, Singapore based group. Ashvin has also worked in the real estate and infrastructure sector, to including working with the Matrix Group (a US$ 4 billion property group in the UK) to launch one of the first few institutional real estate funds for the Indian real estate market. The fund was successfully launched with significant institutional support from the UK/ European markets. He has also advised on water infrastructure, to include advising a Swedish clean technology company in the water sector. He is also a member of the Forbury Investment Network advisory committee. He has also been involved with a number of early stage ventures.

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