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10 Tips to Maximize your Electric Vehicle Range

Here is how to get the most miles out of your electric car.

While your Tesla Model 3 can get you over 350 miles, people still worry about range with electric cars. Most of those people are ones that have yet to purchase an EV and not realized that it’s not worse, just different. A different way of thinking about how you manage your range.

I hate to sound cliche, but your electric car is now pretty similar to your cell phone. If you know you’re going out, you don’t wait until the last minute to charge your phone. You charge it ahead of time knowing that at some point you are going to need a charged phone. This my friends is how you need to think about your new car.

That said, electric or gas, there are always things you can do to increase your range. This will mean fewer stops at the charging station and more money in your wallet.

So here are 10 easy ways to increase your mileage.

1. Drive your car smooth

Stabbing the throttle or late braking are the hallmarks of the highway road warrior, but they kill your maximum range. Any abrupt change is going to take its toll. That Newton guy was pretty smart, his laws about objects at rest and objects in motion were pretty spot on.

When I am teaching students how to drive on the race track, I had them imagine they were driving on ice. Smooth inputs, no yanking the wheel, ease into the brakes, look ahead, and predict what is coming. Not only does this greatly increase your car control, but it will increase your range..a lot.

2. Slow Down, it’s not a race.

Unless it is!

It might sound square, but if you keep your speed to the posted limit. You will use 10%-15% less energy. On average, drivers in the US exceed the speed limit by 10mph. By reducing your speed by that 10 mph, depending on your car, you can get that 10% mileage back. You can prove this to yourself by tracking your usage graph which is built into Tesla and other cars. Try it for a couple of weeks, just for kicks. You WILL see a difference.

I’ve been on a couple of drives where it was getting dicey whether I was going to make it to my next supercharger. Slowing down to the speed limit would get me there with range to spare. If you start getting nervous about range, slow it down.

3. Regenerative Braking

Your EV has the ability to charge itself. Take advantage of that by using as much regenerative braking as possible. If your car has a setting to adjust the amount of regen braking, max it out. Learn to love one-pedal driving and avoid the brake pedal whenever possible. ( not when safety is a concern of course ) put that wasted energy back into your battery. See this post here about One Pedal Driving

4. HVAC is a drag on your Electric Vehicle

Heating and cooling your car takes a significant amount of power, power that could be used to take you a few more miles down the road. For heat, preheat your car while it’s still plugged in. That way you hop into a warm car and a full battery. On days where you can get away with it, use the heated seats and steering wheel and back off the climate control. They use less power and can still keep you comfortable.

On the AC side, again, pre-cool your car before you get in. Cooling off a hot car takes a lot more energy than it does to maintain a cool one. Mythbusters proved that it’s better to use the AC than open the windows as aerodynamics plays a major role in efficiency. You can though use the fan without the AC a little more to keep you comfortable and leave the AC compressor off as much as possible.

5. Tires can impact your range.

AAA estimates that 20% of the cars on the road have underinflated tires. ( That’s why your mom tells you to be careful out there.)

Not only does this increase wear on the tires, but it also decreases range. In most cases, significantly. Checking your air pressure is good practice regardless of what car you drive. The bonus is that it can have an effect of up to 10% on your range. Forget the extra range though, this one is all about safety.

Also remember though, that tire pressure changes depending on the ambient temperature. So in the colder months, if you haven’t adjusted your air pressures, well you can bet, your pressure is low. Look on the tire to find the proper pressure to inflate your tires too. Better handling, better range, and less wear, for a few minutes of your time.   

6. Reduce the vehicle cargo weight to increase the range

I’m guilty of this, for some reason I drive around with a home’s worth of stuff in my car. I’m not golfing, but the clubs are in the back. The tent from last week’s camping trip is still there. Of course, all my work samples make every trip, every time. To use another racing wisdom, lighter is always better than more power. If 100 lbs of weight can decrease your range by 1%-3% then why are you still hauling that stuff around all the time?

7. Roof racks and EV range

Yikes, guilty again. I have a roof rack, as I sometimes need to carry ladders for my work. It’s not hard to remove it, but I seldom do.  Add bike racks to the list too. Anything you have hanging off your car is going to disturb the aerodynamic profile of your car. They spend a lot of time and money making it as slippery as possible and that roof rack up there is a giant air brake. If you have a long drive ahead, do yourself a favour and pull the rack off.

8. Plan your route to maximize range

Being stuck in traffic stinks, for a lot of reasons. Loss of range is one of them. It’s even worse for our gasoline brothers and sisters. I don’t miss those days at all.

Sometimes taking a longer but smoother route can actually give you greater range. UPS developed a system for their delivery vehicles that tracks traffic speed, hold-ups, and such to keep their trucks moving. They also proved its more efficient to make three right-hand turns than to wait at a light to make a left. ( You’ll think about that every time you wait at a light now. You’re welcome )

9. Charge before you are ready to depart

Your car will lose a little charge if sitting idle. So if you want the most range out of your car, be sure to time your charge so that it’s topped up right before you start your journey. It’s not a lot, but we’re trying to maximize our range right?

10. Maintenance and Range

Lastly, maintain your vehicle as per the manufactures requirements. Rotate your tires, service your brakes, lube the moving parts as required. Keeping your car in tip-top shape will help maintain the range your car was designed to deliver.

This is an obvious one, and I apologize for that. Though let’s face it, we’ve all seen our share of cars on the road that should probably be at the wrecking yard.

I hope that you can implement some of these tips into your own driving, and save yourself some money in the process. If so, help me and someone else out by forwarding them this post.

Safe driving everyone.