If you just drive locally and recharge every night, you won't have to worry too much about the range of your electric car. And using an "eco" mode will save on battery, if your car has it. But if you worry about running out of charge on a longer trip or while stuck in traffic, nervously watching the battery deplete, it's good to know have some tools in mind for maximizing the range of your battery.
Top 5 Tips to Extend Electric Car Range
1. Precondition the Car: Use Less Heat and AC While Driving
The heater, and to a lesser extent air conditioning, will noticeably drain your EV battery, reducing range by up to 25% or more. While it's fine to make a few sacrifices in order to be "green", shivering your way down the motorway is one of them.
The best trick to combat this issue is preconditioning your car while it's still charging. Initially bringing your car to a comfortable temperature causes the biggest battery drain, so turn on the heat or A/C while your car is still plugged in; once achieved, maintaining a comfortable temperature takes less energy.
As you can see in the chart below, using your heaters causes a bigger reduction in range at lower speeds. For example, using the heater in a Nissan Leaf causes a 25% drop in range when you're driving at 20 mph in 5 degree weather.
2. Heated Seats: Less Reliance on Battery-Draining Heaters
If you're buying a new electric car, be sure to include heated seats. There's nothing like a toasty seat to warm you to the core. Not only is a heated seat pure bliss on a cold day but it can extend the range on your car since you'll have less need for the heaters.
3. Use Cruise Control: Saves Battery On Flat Roads
Whether you drive an electric, petrol or diesel car, using cruise control to achieve a constant driving speed will increase your fuel efficiency. This only applies to flat roads, however—on hilly roads cruise control can use more energy.
It makes sense, really. When your own foot is on the accelerator, you would naturally ease up as you come to the top of a hill, knowing that gravity will start helping you on the way down. Cruise control can't anticipate the top of a hill like you can, and keeps the accelerator on for longer than necessary to maintain speed. Only use cruise control on relatively flat roads for best fuel economy.
4. Tyre Pressure: Proper Inflation Helps Fuel Economy
Under-inflated tyres have been proven to decrease fuel economy. According to the US Department of Energy, every 1 psi drop in pressure can lower the gas mileage by 0.2%. Know the recommended psi for your car's tyres and check regularly.
5. Drive Style: Slow and Steady Wins the Race
Like it or not, driving more like a granny than a young whipper snapper saves energy. Accelerating slowly away from traffic lights, cornering gently and braking early and slow (letting friction naturally slow you down when you take your foot off the accelerator) will all increase the range in your car (the same way you'd drive for a good score on a telematics car insurance policy). Your driving style is less important to range if you just drive locally and recharge every night, however.
Anyone currently in the market for an electric car that has good mileage can learn more in our article Best Electric Cars for Range.