How to Improve EV Battery Range
Today’s electric vehicles have improved upon overage range with bigger and more efficient battery packs but there’s nothing wrong with trying to nurse every mile possible out of your zero emission vehicle. In fact, it can be kind of fun. So GreenCars put together these five fantastic tips on how to optimize the range of your EV.
Many of these range-improving facts are just common sense. For instance, simply adjusting your driving style can add range. This can be as simple as accelerating up to speed quickly and then lay off the pedal a bit. Keep your speed just under the speed limit for better overall range and don’t be a lead-foot. Maximize your vehicle’s regenerative braking by using the brakes less and letting your EV do the work. Choose a route that will help you get more range by avoiding steep inclines. Also, whenever possible, turn down your climate control. The less that air-conditioning or the car heater is used, the more range you’ll gain.
#1- Check Your Tire Pressure
While your vehicle may have a low tire pressure warning system, that little amber light only comes on when your tire pressure is significantly low. It is best to check your tire pressure often, at least once a month. Your vehicle’s correct tire pressure can be found in your owner’s manual or on the tire pressure placard inside the driver’s door jam.
Under inflated tires can cost you a 0.2 percent drop in mileage for every pound per square inch (psi) that they are under the manufacturer’s suggested tire pressure. It also wears the tires down quicker so that you’ll have to replace them sooner. Over-inflated tires are also a problem in that too much air pressure will wear your tires down quicker and reduce the available grip in an emergency situation.
Low rolling resistance, or Eco tires, offer an improvement of range but also have shallower tread that can reduce grip on wet roads. It is always best to use the automaker’s suggested tires on your vehicle. That said, a study by the University of Michigan stated that Eco tires are approximately eight percent more efficient in adding range.
#2 – Check Your Wheel Alignment
Having checked to make sure your tire pressure is correct, you should also check your vehicle’s wheel alignment. One way to tell that your car may be out of alignment is when you feel it “pull” towards the left or the right while traveling in a straight line at highway speeds. This is also very noticeable under hard braking. With your hands lightly on the steering wheel, you’ll feel the car pull to one side or the other.
Any or all of your wheels can exhibit a degree of “toe-in” (where two wheels on the same axle are closer together at the front and wider at the rear) or “camber”(the tilt of the wheel inwards or outwards). The idea is to make sure the tire tread surface is as flat on the road as possible. When your vehicle is out of alignment it increases tread wear and reduces range. In fact, improper alignment can reduce your range by up to ten percent.
Whether you need your tire pressure checked, need new tires, or need your wheel alignment checked, your local Lithia Auto dealer can take care of you. You’ll find the nearest Lithia Auto service center here.
#3 – Fewer Accessories Means More Range
It makes sense that you will get more range if you turn off all those nifty accessories your EV is packed with. After all, the more electricity you use, the less range you’ll get on the road.
The biggest battery range drainer is the air conditioner or heater in your electric car. A study by AAA found that EV range drops by around seventeen percent when using the AC on a 96-degree day. It also found that when you use the heater while driving in cold temperatures, your EV’s range can be reduced by a whopping 41 percent!
In winter months, if you want to stay warm but get the most range, keep your EV in the garage, pre-heat it before starting it up, and then use the heated seats and steering wheel rather than the heater whenever possible.
#4 – Resistance is Futile
All-electric vehicles are specifically shaped to reduce wind resistance. The less resistance your EV makes when it slices through the wind, the better range you’ll get. So it makes sense that anything you might do to hamper the swoopy shape of your car, might affect its range negatively. For instance: roof racks. Lose them.
A recent study by the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory shows that a roof rack can affect the efficiency of wind resistance and reduce fuel-efficiency on a gasoline-powered vehicle by as much as 25 percent. It further proved that roof racks on light-vehicles such as family cars were responsible for sucking up 0.8 percent of fuel consumption.
By the same token, though turning off your air conditioner saves on electricity and adds range, putting the windows down to get a bit of fresh air or to cool down your ride squashes your range. Having your car windows down can rob you ten percent of your driving range! Anything you do to alter the aerodynamics of your EV will likely reduce range.
#5 – Drive Smooth and Use Cruise Control
As we mentioned in the introduction of this piece, being a lead-foot driver is bad for all-electric range. That’s a shame, since EVs accelerate so quickly and are so much fun to drive. But we’re not saying that you should creep up slowly from zero to highway speed either. A recent study found that accelerating quickly up to speed and then lifting off the pedal may be better for overall range.
The idea here is to drive smoothly and focus on conserving energy. Keep your throttle input and braking gentle. When driving on a flat highway, cruise control is a more efficient way to maintain range than your human foot will ever be.