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Here’s How to Improve the Range of an Electric Car

By TheCarzingTeam August 29, 2022 | Car News

Car News

Car owners who drive standard vehicles that operate on fuel have likely learned over time the bad habits that can guzzle gas. Proper maintenance also can increase fuel efficiency. However, those who drive electric cars might find that they aren’t getting the best range on their vehicle.

Driving habits can decrease the range of an electric car, forcing car owners to charge their battery more frequently. If the battery is suddenly not going the distance, here’s how to improve the range of an electric car:

  • Use the AC when necessary
  • Check the tire pressure
  • Remember to schedule regular tire rotations
  • Don’t drive with a lead foot
  • Mind the weight in the vehicle
  • Switch to Eco Mode
  • Use regenerative braking

The Maximum Estimated Range Might Not be Obtainable

Those who purchase electric vehicles might review the estimated range and assume this is how many miles that the car can travel consistently on a full charge. However, car owners need to understand this is how far that the car can charge on a fully charged battery until the battery is drained.

Most car owners will not wait for their car’s battery to die before they charge it. Not only could this leave the driver stranded, but the battery would drain at a very bad time—like on the highway. Just as car owners will refuel their tank once they realize they are low (or the gas light illuminates), electric car owners will likely charge their battery once they realize it’s running a little too low for their comfort.

However, electric cars will still beat most fuel-dependent cars when it comes to energy costs and perhaps mileage, too. While drivers might not maximize their range to the numbers estimated by manufacturers, they may come close.

How to Improve the Range of an Electric Car

How to Maximize the Range and Energy-Efficiency

Electric car owners may typically charge their car at home through the night. This ensures the battery is charged for the next day. Car owners will likely want to avoid needing to use public charging stations, as the costs at these stations can vary.

As driving habits impact fuel efficiency of standard vehicles, they also can impact how far an electric vehicle can drive on a charge. In addition, electric car drivers also need to properly maintain their vehicle to help maximize range.

Use the Air Conditioner When Necessary

The battery of an electric car powers the drive and the mechanics of the vehicle. For this reason, drivers should be mindful of using both the heat and the air conditioning. Unfortunately, both can suck the battery life resulting in a possible decrease in range.

If the temperature is extreme, though, car owners might just have to accept that their car’s range might suffer slightly. When the AC and heat can be avoided, though, drivers might enjoy a better range. One study noted that using the air conditioner can decrease the range by one-third.

Check the Tire Pressure

The tires on an electric vehicle also can impact its range. Poor tire construction and/ or under-inflated tires can result in the car driving shorter distances on a charge. In addition, this can lead to a waste of electricity, as the driver could require additional battery charging.

Schedule Tire Rotations

Even if tire pressure is optimal, electric car owners shouldn’t neglect regular tire rotations. Drivers might forget about tire rotations, as electric cars don’t require oil changes and many consumers routinely schedule both services at the same appointment.

Tire rotations move the front tires to the back and vice versa. This maintenance ensures that all tires get equal wear. When buying new tires for an electric vehicle, experts recommend choosing tires with low rolling resistance.

Don’t Drive with a Lead Foot

Speeding will decrease fuel efficiency in a regular vehicle, and it also decreases the battery life. Those who wish to maximize their range need to stick to the speed limit.

Mind the Weight in the Vehicle

When a car tows weight, it will use more power and thus more fuel. The same concept holds true for an electric vehicle. If the back of the car is stacked with extra weight because of camping gear, moving boxes, etc., then drivers might expect the range to be decreased.

MyEV.com explains that an added 100 pounds will increase battery consumption by about 1 to 2 percent.

Switch to Eco Mode

One of the easiest ways to maximize the range is just by using Eco Mode. This option keeps speed a bit more consistent. When there is less of a shift in speed, the energy and the range can be maximized. Those who want to use their charge more efficiently should go Eco Mode.

Tesla offers an energy-saving mode, and the Model S uses this mode at night. Every manufacturer could have a different term for this energy-efficient option.

Use Regenerative Braking

Regenerative braking helps to recharge the battery. Tesla offers a great explanation on how this works; regenerative braking kicks in when the driver’s foot is off the accelerator. Regenerative braking will automatically slow down speed; the energy then helps regenerate the battery.  Tesla explains that this feature does not replace standard braking.

Car owners should consult the manual for the vehicle model to understand how to use this option and learn how it can impact range.

How to Improve the Range of an Electric Car

What Else Can Impact Range?

Tesla explains in the owner’s manual for the Model S that other factors also can decrease the range of an electric model. Driving uphill, for example, uses more energy. Driving in congested traffic also will decrease the range. Even driving with the windows down will reduce the range.

Unfortunately, some driving conditions are unavoidable. Car owners can’t control traffic congestion, and they can’t always avoid driving uphill. However, if the range is lower than expected, electric car owners might look back on their day of driving to figure out why their energy-efficiency was less than optimal.

Tesla also explains that some modifications by car owners also can impact the range. Bike racks and cargo racks will decrease the expected range of the vehicle. If these additions aren’t necessary, then car owners might avoid them.

How to Improve the Range of an Electric Car

Worried about Range? Charge the Vehicle Nightly

Electric car owners might get into the habit of plugging in their vehicle at home each night to ensure that the battery is regenerated. While some electric cars might come with a level one charger, these aren’t the most efficient charging options.

Level one chargers are simply an electrical cord that plugs into a standard outlet in the garage. These chargers are convenient for many buyers, because they are compatible with standard outlets and they are less expensive than the more powerful level 2 charger.

Level 2 charging stations are an additional cost for car owners. However, these stations allow for quick and efficient charging. A battery could be completely regenerated to a full charge overnight; however, some level 1 chargers might not allow for a fully charged battery even when charging all night.

Level 1 chargers might only allow for an hourly charge of three to five miles per hour.  This means that a vehicle with a range of 300 miles would take 60 hours to charge completely.  In contrast, level 2 charging stations can supply 12 to 80 miles of charge per hour.

Not every home is equipped to handle a level 2 charger, though. These charging stations require a 240-volt outlet. For homes not equipped with this capacity, an electrician will be needed to upgrade the home.

The cost for installing a level 2 charger also can be an investment; on average, it costs $1,200. This price will be higher if electrical upgrades are necessary.

No matter what charging station an EV owner selects, charging at home will be the best option. While electricity costs vary per region, these utility costs are typically lower for in-home use than at public charging stations.

Optimizing the Range: Take Control of Driving Habits

For electric car owners who discover that the range of their electric vehicle is nowhere close to the published estimated range, taking control of driving habits could help to increase the range. However, car owners also should understand that the published estimated range is typically referring to how far the car drives on a full charge until the battery is depleted.

Most drivers won’t push their vehicle to the point of energy depletion; this could leave the driver and passengers stranded or the car could suddenly stall on the highway. Most car owners will charge their vehicle nightly to ensure that their battery is regenerated.

Drivers who want to maximize their range can be mindful of their heating and cooling use in the car. Driving fast also will decrease the range. In addition, car owners also need to ensure that the tires are properly inflated and rotated regularly.  

Sometimes, though, electric car owners will have days when they can’t maximize the range. Traffic jams, uphill driving and carrying extra weight can all decrease the range. Those who drive electric cars can rest a little more easily knowing that they are able to plug in and pass by the fuel pumps. While less than stellar range can be frustrating, the price of charging at home is far less expensive than standard fuel especially as gas prices continue to surge.

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