How to get the best range from an electric car

We spoke to Linda Noble, one of Mission Motorsport’s Hypermilers. Medically discharged from the Army in 2018 after an 18-year military career, she proved to be one of the most efficient drivers on Mission Motorsport’s Hypermile record-breaking team, despite having never driven an electric car before.

Advice from a record breaker

“Drive as calmly as possible” was her main advice. “That’s the most important. The smoother you drive, the more efficient you become. It’s best to keep a fairly constant speed. We didn’t accelerate and decelerate, just a bit of brake regeneration [see below] everything we needed was on the descents.”

Smooth driving is the first rule to get the best range from an electric vehicle.

More efficiency gains

By looking far ahead, giving you enough time to slow for traffic, and not hitting the brakes hard or accelerating too hard, you can make big gains in efficiency at a small cost in comfort and convenience.

It also makes good use of the brake regeneration systems (sometimes called Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems or KERS) found in every electric car. When you take your foot off the gas, an electric vehicle automatically starts using the electric motor as a generator to harvest energy from the car’s natural propulsion.

The strength of this braking regeneration can vary. Many EVs offer a range of brake regeneration strengths so that they feel no different than normal engine braking, or it can be so strong that you barely have to touch the brake pedal if the car has what is known as “single pedal driving”.

To give you an idea of ​​how much energy the regenerative system can absorb, a report from the Energy Saving Trust states that “energy recovery from regenerative braking is about 10 percent in normal driving and up to 30 percent on descents.”

Air conditioning or open window to stay cool?

As you might imagine, the record-breaking Mission Motorsport team kept the air conditioning off to avoid significant drain on the battery, but nobody wants to live with that level of discomfort in everyday life, especially in an expensive new car.

The Energy Saving Trust EV Efficiency Report cited above estimates that opening the window on a warm day affects efficiency less than using air conditioning, assuming you’re traveling under 45mph.

At higher speeds, air conditioning is better suited to staying comfortable and maximizing range, as the drag of an open window at these speeds reduces efficiency significantly.

Almost all electric vehicles offer the option of presetting the interior temperature. This means that if you have parked and plugged in the car overnight, mains power will be used to cool or warm the cabin for your departure time. Given that climate control can use about 20 percent plus of an EV’s battery power in inclement weather — eating up almost a quarter of your potential range — it’s worth using the climate control presets.

The eco driving modes in an electric vehicle often offer reduced air conditioning functionality but don’t turn it off completely, which is a great energy-efficient way to maintain a comfortable temperature.

What about the car heater? How to get the best range from an electric car

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