Whether it’s increasing the distance you can travel on a single charge or finding the nearest charging point, you might find some of these tips useful.
There are many good reasons to buy an EV. Lower running costs, the opportunity to say goodbye to petrol stations and driving with zero emissions are just three of the key benefits of making the switch to electric.
You could adopt a simple ‘plug and play’ approach to living with an EV; owning one shouldn’t be any trickier than living with a petrol or diesel car once you’re into the routine of recharging the battery.
There are, however, a few tricks and tips that’ll help you to get the best out of your EV. Whether it’s increasing the distance you can travel on a single charge or finding the nearest charging point, you might find some of these tips useful.
‘One-pedal driving’ is one of the joys of owning an EV. In short, it allows you to start, accelerate, decelerate and stop using only the accelerator pedal. The brake pedal is largely redundant.
It takes a while to get used to, but once you’re familiar with the system, you’ll wonder how you coped without it. Not all EVs offer one-pedal driving, but the Nissan e-Pedal is a good example of the technology.
The e-Pedal harvests energy when braking or decelerating, which is recycled into the batteries. It even makes driving in traffic a pleasurable experience. Well, almost.
EV sat navs, either factory-fitted or aftermarket, can be incredibly useful when planning a route to an unfamiliar destination. Use a system with charging point locations to kiss goodbye to range anxiety.
The Zap-Map route planner tool is a good example. It will suggest up to three chargers situated within a mile of a route, based on the estimated battery range of the car. It will even use real-world data to reduce the range if a lead-footed driver averages much over 50mph.
Other systems enable a driver to see if charging points are free or in use, as well as checking that the stations are compatible with a given make or model of EV. Some will even prepare the battery for recharging before a planned stop, allowing for fast charging.
Running an EV? There’ll be a car maker app for that, too. Whether it’s checking the level of charge in the battery, locking or unlocking the doors or telling the car when to start charging, a smartphone app will enhance the experience of running an EV.
There are useful third party apps too, including the Zap-Map EV charging app and Google Maps, with the latter including an electric vehicle charging page.
Preconditioning allows you to pre-heat or pre-cool the car’s interior before you begin your journey. It means that you’ll feel more comfortable on a cold morning or hot afternoon, but there’s more to preconditioning than the comfort of the car’s occupants.
Because preconditioning uses power from the mains and not the battery, it’ll preserve predicted range at the beginning of a journey. It’s worth noting that a cold battery can reduce range by up to 30 percent, which will have a significant impact in the winter.
We could write an entire story on the best Tesla ‘Easter eggs’. There’s even a Wikipedia page devoted to the different features.
Some are useful, such as over-the-air software updates, auto-raising suspension and a clever key (shaped like a car). Others are just for fun, such as a drawing pad on the touchscreen infotainment system, a Christmas light show and the ability to play video games in the car.
The batteries in the Renault Zoe and Peugeot e-208 come with an eight-year/100,000 mile warranty. This gives peace of mind that the battery will remain healthy during your ownership of the car.
There are a few things you can do to keep your battery at maximum health for even longer. Minimising the use of rapid chargers is good for your battery’s health, so use home charging whenever possible.
You should also keep the charge between 20 percent and 80 percent, which is why most public chargers stop short of recharging to 100 percent. Making regular short trips is another top tip – don’t leave your EV parked in the same spot for too long.
Motorways and dual carriageways are the enemy of the EV. The faster you drive, the quicker the battery will deplete, so driving at 70mph is a false economy – you’ll simply spend more time at the charging point.
Most sat navs feature an option to take the most efficient route to a destination, but don’t be afraid to break out the road atlas. Avoid motorways and fast A-roads to preserve your estimated range for longer; B-roads and country lanes are both more scenic and better for your battery.
The bigger the EV’s battery, the further you can expect to go on a single charge. But ask yourself this: do you regularly cover 250-300 miles in a single day? If the answer is no, an EV with a smaller battery might be preferable.
Sure, you might have to put up with achieving no more than 150-200 miles on a single charge, but an EV with a small battery will be cheaper to buy and quicker to recharge. The difference could be as much as a few hundred pounds a month on a finance contract.
We’re not suggesting that you avoid using the heated seats, climate control or infotainment system, but each one will put a dent in your predicted range. Charge your smartphone at home, rather than in the car.
Don’t get cold: heated seats consume less energy than the heater, so stick them on for a bit of warmth.
Check the tyre pressures every couple of weeks. Underinflated tyres will increase rolling resistance, taking small chunks out of the estimated range. Volkswagen EVs can be equipped with AirStop tyres. These are sealed against punctures up to 5mm in depth, eliminating the need for a spare wheel.
Don’t be tempted to splash out on larger alloy wheels; the smaller rims, the longer the range. The 20- and 21-inch wheels on the Volkswagen ID.4 might look fancy, but the 18- and 19-inch designs should deliver more miles per charge.