The movement to electric vehicles is gathering pace across Europe, with market share for battery electric (BEV) and plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) models rising month on month.
However, knowing how to efficiently drive EVs and how to get the most from the driving experience, can really help overcome barriers to usage, such as range anxiety, and also reduce fuel costs.
If you are new to driving an EV, or a more experienced electric driver, a good starting point is to acknowledge the differences between a petrol or diesel engine and the new technology, as this will help you get the most out of your BEV or PHEV.
Some of the key points to consider are:
Charging the battery
To get the best from the battery, a key part of the EV driving experience, it is vital to get to know the whole range of available charging options for your vehicle.
Fully acquaint yourself with the downtime of the battery and charge it when and where you can. This may mean at a workplace, client site, public network, at the supermarket or home-charging.
Get to know the type of charge point and its power output and the suitability for your vehicle. For example, an Ultra Rapid is fastest (100 miles in 10 mins), Rapid (30 miles in 10 min), Fast (5-10 miles in 10 mins) and Slow (2-5 miles in 10 mins). Note that Ultra Rapid chargers have a power output of DC 100kw + and therefore are not suitable for all vehicle battery types.
Journey planning is very important as longer journeys in an EV need planning, more so than in a petrol or diesel car. When driving long distances, plan accordingly and know where charge points of a suitable type are located, to allow your vehicle to be recharged should it be necessary.
Make use of on-board technology and apps to locate stopping points and take breaks from driving to catch up with emails or similar tasks while your battery is charging.
However, keeping a battery fully charged is not necessarily best. Refer to the vehicle’s handbook, but charging too frequently to 100% can be detrimental to the health of a battery.
Consider how much charge you need to get your destination. Considerate use of public chargers means you should vacate them when you have stayed as long as you need to and not necessarily until 100% charge is achieved.
As more drivers adopt this new technology, a considerate approach will become especially important to maximise accessibility for all users.
You may find you need to adapt your driving style to suit your EV, as it has difference characteristics to a petrol or diesel car.
With an EV the faster you go the more energy you use so that, unlike a petrol or diesel, optimal speed is much lower and consumption can be affected by the usage of electrical systems in the vehicle, such as air conditioning or heating, which can impact by about 10% on energy consumption.
A top tip is to have your vehicle charging while you get your car to the ideal temperature heating you’d like before a journey.
With a petrol or diesel, the optimum speed might be 40-50 mph /60-80 km per hour, but an EV’s are a lot lower as air resistance, or drag, is not moderated by efficiency in higher gears like in an ICE engine.
Rapid breaking and acceleration use more power in an EV, so a harsh driving style is best avoided. Maintain momentum to reduce energy consumption and anticipate the road ahead in order to increase the battery contribution in a PHEV, or range in an EV.
By adopting a steady approach, you will be better able to preserve power, and if the vehicle has cruise control, this can also help moderate driving styles.
Regenerative braking, which takes the wasted energy from the process of slowing down a car and using it to recharge the battery, differs model by model,
However, many OEMs allow the driver to adjust this as they get used to this feature. The system works by converting kinetic energy into electricity to recharge batteries, and can vary between 10%, when driving normally, up to 30% when driving downhill.
Initially, it may feel uncomfortable as the vehicle can brake as soon as acceleration ceases, as it is maximised by reducing the use of friction brakes. The most effective way to increase regenerative braking is by adopting a steady driving style and avoiding harsh acceleration or braking.
Your EV may contain eco-features as part of its standard specification, so you need to learn and utilise them. Eco modes can limit the power of certain ancillary features, reducing how much energy they draw down.
Some PHEVs, for example, also allow drivers to choose when to use the battery feature, allowing efficiency to be maximised at lower speeds, for example in towns and cities.
Other driving tips