By Craig Cole, Senior Editor, EV Pulse
One of the first considerations for many electric vehicle purchasers is range – people want to be comfortable that their EV can get them where they need to go. But when the vast majority of drivers drive less than 100 miles a day, how often does range really matter? Most drivers will find that any EV on the market today has sufficient range for their daily driving, but EV range anxiety can be an issue if traveling cross country or long distances. So here are a few simple things you can do to take range off your worry list.
Tips for Reducing EV Range Anxiety
Here are 6 tips for reducing range anxiety when you’re driving your electric vehicle.
Tip No.1: Get the Most Range
I encourage everyone to get an EV with more range than you think you need. If you frequently drive to your cabin and it’s say, 175 miles away, DON’T get an electric vehicle that can go 200 miles between charges. Yes, that technically works, and will probably be fine, but if you can afford it, get the model or trim that offers 250 miles of range. That extra buffer gives you flexibility. If the weather’s freezing, or you have to take a detour because of a crash or road construction, or if your vehicle is overloaded with cargo, you might have trouble reaching your destination without charging along the way, and that’s NO FUN.
Tip No. 2: Heat Pumps Help
Speaking of frigid weather, look for an EV with a heat pump-based HVAC system. In the cold, these designs are much more efficient than resistive heaters, which work like hair dryers and gobble up electricity. Regardless of the HVAC system employed, cold weather negatively impacts EV range, but heat pumps can make a big difference in how far you can drive between charges.
Tip No. 3: Wheels and Tires Matter
Pay attention to the wheels and tires your electric vehicle comes with. Believe it or not, these components have a MASSIVE effect on range. Consider …
The high-performance BMW i4 M50 Gran Coupe is EPA rated at 270 miles of range when fitted with 19-inch wheels. But what happens when you opt for 20s? Well, A LOT. The estimated range plummets to just 227 – a difference of 43 miles – just because of the wheels and tires. It’s the same story with the Audi E-Tron S. When fitted with 20-inch rollers, this all-electric utility vehicle offers 208 miles of range. But if you get 21s or 22s, that estimate drops to just 181 miles.
The moral of the story is this: Keep an eye on the wheels and tires your EV comes with, because it matters.
Tip No. 4: Remember the Maine (Weather)!
Remember the Maine! When driving an EV, you should also remember the weather. Cold temps have a huge impact on batteries, which can really ratchet up range anxiety. Basically, be aware that if it’s cold, your EV will not go as far between charges. Internal combustion-powered vehicles also see efficiency reductions in the cold, so it’s not just an EV problem, even if it impacts them more.
There are loads of variables to consider, but according to testing done by AAA, in 20-degree Fahrenheit weather, electric vehicle range was reduced by up to 41% when the heater was cranked up. That’s obviously a HUGE REDUCTION, so plan your trips accordingly. As mentioned earlier, getting a vehicle fitted with a heat pump can help minimize range reduction in cold conditions, as can scheduling a departure time, my No. 5 tip.
Tip No. 5: Schedule Departure Times
To mitigate cold conditions, park your EV in a garage if you can. Beyond that, when Ol’ Man Winter bears his icy fangs, try to schedule a departure time. This is a feature many electric vehicles offer and it’s one that can really improve efficiency.
For instance, if you leave for work every weekday at 7:30 a.m. you can tell your EV to be ready when you are. It can have the battery warmed up for improved range and it can have the climate system dialed in to your desired settings. You want the seat heater on full blast and the defroster set at 68 degrees? That’s an option! Best of all, your EV does all of this using the electricity from your house instead of depleting the battery.
To help reduce range anxiety in cold weather, shop for an EV that offers schedulable departure times. Your anxiety – and extremities – will thank me.
Tip No. 6: Plan Things Out
Helping assuage range anxiety, my final tip is preparation.
Road tripping in an EV can be stressful, especially in less densely populated regions because there are fewer charging stations, and you never really know whether they’re going to work as advertised. Planning your drive and, if possible, being aware of alternate charging locations can make life a whole lot easier when you’re far from home.
Of course, many EVs offer automatic route planning that does most of the work for you, but it’s still a good idea to verify where you need to stop and charge before hitting the road. Services like “A Better Route Planner” are highly recommended. Additionally, apps like “PlugShare” use crowd-sourced data, so you know if a charger is working or not.
If you haven’t already, it’s also smart to install smartphone apps for the charging networks you need to use AND sign up for their services beforehand. That way you’re not forced to register for ChargePoint, EVGo, or Electrify America while you’re waiting to juice up your vehicle.
It All Comes Down to Range for Electric Cars
Range anxiety is a major concern, but common sense and a few simple steps can make the electric life much more enjoyable, plus things are only going to get better as the charging infrastructure improves and battery technology advances.
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Craig Cole is Senior Editor at EV Pulse. He brings 15 years of experience to EV Pulse and is a proud member of the Automotive Press Association and the Midwest Automotive Media Association. Check out the EV Pulse YouTube channel here.