24-hour Dutch Nissan Leaf MarathonEnlarge Photo
If you’re an electric car owner who finds that the range you can get from a full charge isn’t anywhere near the distance the dealer claimed, you’re not alone.
Rushing to work, carrying excess weight, poor maintenance, inadequate planning and even drive distractions while driving can cause havoc with the number of miles your car can travel per charge.
But there is help. By training yourself to follow these five simple steps you’ll find your electric car is capable of a much larger range than you thought was ever possible.
The laws of physics dictate that on earth the faster an object moves, the more energy is needed to push it along.
Electric cars are no different. Driving down the freeway at 90 mph in the outside lane will drain your car’s battery pack a whole lot faster than driving along at 60 mph.
2011 Nissan Leaf State of Charge and Miles remainingEnlarge Photo
Even a 10 mph difference in speed can make an amazing difference. Over a 60 mile commute in a 2011 Nissan Leaf, we discovered traveling at 70 mph for the entire trip results in a completely flat battery pack. Make the same trip at 60 mph, and we made it back home with 20 miles of estimated range remaining.
Knock 10 mph off your top speed, allow extra time for your journey and we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Healthy car, healthy range
Just like a gasoline car, electric cars work best when they are well maintained. While electric cars don’t need expensive oil changes, air filters and new ignition parts, they do need healthy battery packs and healthy tires.
2011 Nissan LEAF prototypeEnlarge Photo
Make sure your car’s tires are properly inflated and are rotated regularly according to its manufacturer's recommendations, and follow the scheduled maintenance program set out in your car’s manual.
Plan unfamiliar trips before you drive
While most electric cars on the market today have satellite navigation as standard they don’t always give directions appropriate to electric cars. While electric vehicle specific satellite navigation systems are already coming to market, nothing beats old-fashioned route planning.
Study your route, and check it using an online map service such as Google Maps to see what terrain and speed roads you’re going to be driving on. As a rule, avoiding steep inclines, fast roads and start/stop traffic in city centers will help increase your car’s range.
Shed excess weight
Don’t worry. we’re not talking about gym membership or starving yourself. But carrying around extra weight in your electric car has an adverse effect on its range.
2011 Chevrolet Volt drive test, March 2011Enlarge Photo
Try and get into the habit of clearing out any unnecessary luggage from your car’s trunk and passenger compartment. If you have kids, you can turn de-cluttering into a game after long trips, seeing who can clear their side of the car first.
Not only will you end up with a cleaner, more pleasant car to drive but you’ll find your car feels noticeably lighter if you ditch all the junk that normally accumulates in your trunk over time.
Stay focused, stay smart
A smart, calm but alert driver is always going to achieve better fuel economy than a stressed, tired driver.
When you’re planing a longer distance electric car trip, try and allocate regular rest stops to keep you refreshed, alert and calm.
While driving, try and anticipate the movement of traffic around you, increasing your following distance where possible to allow for smooth deceleration and acceleration, both of which contribute to efficient driving.
Distractions, like cellphones, in-car entertainment and an unfamiliar route can all contribute to poor economy. Keep all distractions to a minimum, and you’ll find it much easier to drive smoothly, safely and efficiently.
What tricks and tips do you have for other electric car drivers wanting to improve on their car’s range per charge? Let us know in the Comments below.