Are you ready to take out your electric car for a road trip (EV) but have range anxiety? Here are great ways to extend your range so you can push those feelings of worry aside.
Not everywhere you drive will have electric car charging stations, and this can be concerning. But with good preparation, you can set up your EV for a more extended range.
Join a Charging Network
You’ll definitely want to link up with a network like ChargePoint, EVgo, or Electrify America. Downoad their that shows maps of charging-station locations.
Do a Trial Run
Plan a trip that’s longer than your EV’s battery range to experience finding and using charging stations. Learn how long it takes for a full charge. Test if range anxiety is going to be prevent you from enjoying a longer trip.
Plan Your Route
Choose a route that includes charging stations but avoids excessive stop-and-go areas. Make a note of charging stations along alternate routes and record hard copies of locations since you might not have cell service where you need it, especially in remote sightseeing locations.
Typically, in-vehicle electronics in an EV will tell you where you can find local charging stations. You can find lists of charging stations on both the AAA and the U.S. Department of Energy sites as well, which is incredibly convenient when you’re traveling.
Divide Your Trip into Half-Ranges
Plan to top off your battery at half the usual range. You never know when you’ll come to construction and detours or see a tourist site advertised on a billboard and want to check it out.
Prepare Your Car
Check Your Tires
Use a simple tire gauge to check the air pressure of your tires. You can usually find the suggested value written on the side of the tire. Under-inflated tires will increase an EV’s energy consumption and can lead to uneven tread wear. You’ll want to check the air pressure frequently as it can vary with changes in air temperature.
Remove junk and items you don’t need from the trunk and backseat. Cutting down on a vehicle’s load is the easiest way to increase its efficiency.
Pretend you’re in a wagon starting on the Oregon Trail — take only what you need. Remember, you can find a department store, grocer, or a general dollar store almost anywhere.
Streamline Your Car
Avoid exterior accessories like roof racks and cargo carriers as they’ll create drag, lowering efficiency.
Limit Heating and Air-conditioning
Running an EV’s heater and AC drains battery power. Pre-cool or pre-heat your car’s interior before you unplug it from the charger, so you use the charger’s power rather than the battery. Note that it is harder to charge cold batteries, and they do not hold a charge as well.
In the winter, set the climate control lower and try to compensate with warm clothing or blankets. Then in the summer, try running only the fan and not the AC compressor as much as you can handle. Driving with the windows open is another option, but at higher speeds, aerodynamic drag will reduce the efficiency too. As a general rule, use the AC on open highways, but at lower settings.
Keep Speeds Low
Rapid acceleration drains batteries rapidly. Give it a little extra time to get to cruising speed. Then stay at or below the speed limit. Wind resistance increases rapidly at speeds above 50 mph. Where convenient, use the cruise control to keep your pace steady.
Coast as much as possible, but don’t coast by disengaging the clutch or putting the car in neutral.
Drive as if you don’t have brakes. As soon as you release your accelerator pedal, the electric motor reverses, sending extra power back to the batteries, and the resistance will slow the vehicle. If you have to apply the brakes, the energy from the car’s momentum will be lost.
Don’t Follow too Close
If you’re too close to a car in front of you, you’ll end up allowing the other vehicle determine when and how fast you have to decelerate. Plus, it’s not exactly safe.
Let Hills Serve You
Slow down when you’re going up a hill and speed up coming down. Allow the rise of a hill to slow your speed rather than trying to maintain it. Then as you pass the top, accelerate to slightly above your average cruise speed and let momentum carry you down and beyond.
Release cruise control as you start up and reset it at the bottom. If you are in hilly terrain, cruise control may not be a good idea.
Also, try to avoid stopping on an incline. If you stop at the top or on the other side, gravity can help your acceleration.
Anticipate and Prepare
Keep your gaze ahead, watching for slowing traffic, approaching junctions, or potential hazards. You’ll want ample time to react and slow down gently.
Plan activities while you wait, like making a photo documentary of your trip or collecting photos of out-of-state license plates.
Enjoy the Ride
You can make EV-efficiency and traveling fun. The planning may take you on smaller, less-traveled roads, so learn to enjoy the scenery along the route. Wave at gas guzzlers that race past you, knowing they’re wasting money while you’re saving the environment.