How to boost EV range

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Bring up the topic of pure and plug-in electric vehicles, and the conversation about range will invariably surface. The good news is the amount of distance the latest EVs are able to cover have improved significantly compared to just a few short years ago, and there are also simple measures drivers can take to squeeze a little extra juice out of their journeys. Here are seven of them.

BMW i3 Concept and BMW i8 Concept (07/2011)

Use gentle inputs

Although coming from the internal combustion handbook, this tip works just as well in the electric world. Stomping on the throttle drains the battery quicker than if you gradually accelerate. In addition, avoid jabbing the brakes, which usually results in a subsequent aggressive application of the gas pedal to get back up to speed.

Try and look ahead to anticipate traffic so there’s plenty of time to react.

Plan your route

Rather than make several trips back-and-forth from home to, say, tend to errands, plan a schedule that involves getting from destination to destination in a logical manner, all at once. This reduces the number of kilometres driven and amount of power consumed.

Also, opt for level city roads over highways and steep inclines when there’s a choice, as EVs are much more efficient at low and stable speeds.

Read the manual

Each type of EV is configured differently, some with different modes that are changeable to alter the behaviour and/or efficiency of the vehicle. The BMW i3 for example features Comfort, ECO PRO and ECO PRO+, the latter two restricting top speed and reducing climate control energy consumption in order to achieve more kilometres.

Learn about the different settings and know when to use or not use them to your advantage.

To go with AFP story China-auto-show-environment-Tesla,FOCUS by Bill Savadove This picture taken on March 17, 2015 shows Tesla Model S vehicles parked outside a car dealership in Shanghai. Serial entrepreneur Elon Musk has launched spacecraft into orbit, but popularising his Tesla electric cars in China is proving to be tougher than rocket science. AFP PHOTO / JOHANNES EISELE (Photo credit should read JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images)

Perform general maintenance

Cars that run off electricity rather than gasoline require a lot less maintenance overall, but it is still important to keep all components in tip-top shape to ensure maximum range isn’t reduced.

Regularly checking and keeping the correct tire pressure is often overlooked by owners, even though being just a few psi off may cause the vehicle to work much harder, thus using more energy than is needed.

Mind the battery

Typically, an electric vehicle’s battery will retain approximately 75 per cent or more of its original capacity for at least four years. It’s impossible to avoid eventual degradation of the battery over time from regular use, but there are things you can do to slow down the process.

Cars spending a lot of time outside in hot climates have shown to experience the aforementioned degradation at a much higher rate than those parked in more temperate environments. So if you know your car is going to be experiencing extreme weather often, choose a model with an active cooling system.

Like your cellphone or laptop, a battery’s active state of charge plays a factor. Generally speaking, keeping a car plugged in all the time with the battery full is not a good idea. If you’re not planning on driving for a few days, disconnect the cable.

Pre-condition

Did you know turning on the heater or the air conditioning in an EV actually depletes battery power? To combat this, keep the interior at a comfortable temperature before stepping inside.

There are two methods: park appropriately according to season, so under shade during hotter months and inside in the winter, if possible. Or heat/cool the car first while it’s still plugged in. The Audi A3 e-tron makes it easy with the connect companion app allowing remote climate control access.

Lighten the load

The heavier your car is, the more electricity will be used to haul all that weight around. Remove non-essential items to give a slight bump in maximum range. Open up the trunk and ask yourself whether you really need to be carrying around half your wardrobe or that box of used books you’ve been meaning to donate?