Despite significant advances achieved over the last few years, their limited range still represents one of the main obstacles to the wider dissemination of electric vehicles. And although on the one hand the car manufacturers and firms which produce the batteries are accomplishing great strides in order to maximise efficiency and to increase the power of the accumulators, on the other hand the contribution which drivers can provide remains extremely important. Because driving carefully, assisted by a thorough study of the vehicle by reading the owner's handbook, can extend their car's range.
Correct use of the pedals
The first piece of advice, despite being rather obvious, is to use moderation when pressing down on the accelerator pedal, and to avoid sudden starts and accelerations. The second is that of looking ahead. Trying to understand whether the flow of traffic is about to slow down (or whether the traffic lights could turn red) remains another infallible method of extending the mileage between one battery charge and the next.
The more you manage to avoid sudden braking, the better the regeneration system is able to recharge the batteries, by taking advantage of the car's inertia. In more simple terms, when we lift our foot off the accelerator pedal, the car's engine acts as if it were transformed into the dynamo of a bicycle, acting as a provider of energy for the batteries.
Keeping an eye on the interior temperature
Many people are unaware of the different behaviour required depending on the season. If the outside temperature drops below 10°C, an electric vehicle needs a heat generator to maintain a tolerable level of warmth inside the passenger compartment, in contrast to vehicles with combustion engines which take advantage of the heat generated naturally by the engine. The result: the absorption of energy increases by a minimum of 15% up to a maximum of 25% and, in an equal proportion, the vehicle's range reduces.
It is easy to do the calculations: in the case of a car with a 300km range, if it is extremely cold and you want to maintain 21°C in the passenger compartment, you need to tee up a battery charge every 225km, 75km earlier than “normal”. In contrast, you can wrap up warmer, perhaps tolerate 18, 19°C, with the advantage, however, of being able to travel further.
Constant speed on the motorway
If you are not in a hurry, another excellent way of increasing the distance between one battery charge and the next is to reduce your cruising speed on the motorway, for example from 130 to 110 km/h. You arrive a little later – 15/20 minutes for a journey of around 200km – but you gain enormously in efficiency: in contrast to combustion engines, in fact, electric vehicles see their range fall steeply when they travel at high revs. Driving at 20 km/h faster above 100 km/h means having a reduced range.
It is therefore a good idea to drive as much as possible at a constant speed, without pushing the engine too hard or trying to “free-wheel” during long downhill sections and reducing your speed going uphill.