- Don’t charge your battery before its due time
Obviously, when planning your next day, you cannot be comfortable with only 35% charge left and this seems to be a good reason for recharging the battery. But for Mitsubishi i-MIEV this charge means only about 25 miles, while Tesla Model S with its magic self-driving hardware and 100 kWh battery pack can ride almost four times longer.
So, you need to take into account the real electric range of your car since electric car batteries tend to lose from 10 to 40 percent of their initial power after 500 charging-discharging cycles. This means that after a while a number of miles driven in all-electric range will be reduced rather significantly requiring you to change the battery, which is often the most expensive unit in electric cars.
Thus, it is often recommended by manufacturers to charge the battery only when reaching the lowest battery level to avoid frequent replacement of batteries. However, the above-mentioned Tesla can be charged without waiting until the battery is completely discharged and the manufacturer even recommends leaving the battery plugged in whenever it is not in use. Besides, you’d better recharge a battery that has less than 20 miles on its range in case you need to ride to some remote areas.
- Take account of cold weather
When planning your daily routes and battery charges, keep in mind that cold weather causes your electric car to consume energy much faster. In winter, daylight hours are shorter, which requires more energy for headlights and you are sure to have your climate control on when it is cold outside. Cold weather can steal up to 40% of your battery power leading to a smaller number of miles driven, as well as it can add to the charging time.
So, plan your rides and charges accordingly and don’t rely on your "summer" schedule. Besides, it will be smart to pre-heat your car when it is still plugged in, if possible.
- Know your charging stations
This is especially important when you are planning long trips in your electric vehicle, and these trips can take you away from your regular charging stations. It is good thinking to map out where charging stations are along your planned route. Make sure they are the type of stations suitable for your car since there are different charging modes and different plug types. Fast charging stations are preferable to provide charging in less than an hour, but keep in mind that it can be required to reserve a charging point in advance.
Energy-Efficient Driving Techniques
The best thing about electric vehicles is that you can save a hatful of money by using electric power instead of gas. But you should use this electric power properly to get the best balance between energy efficiency and performance. Here are some tips on how to maximize the electric range of your car:
- Limit your speed. It is highly advisable to keep a steady speed when driving an electric vehicle. Try to maintain a constant speed in a range of 25-40 mph in the city and don’t speed up over 50-60 mph on highways – these speed limits are usually recommended for saving energy on longer rides.
- Avoid hard braking. Smooth braking is one of basic driving techniques to extend the life of your battery since this allows the car to use the regenerative braking system. It recovers the energy as if recharging your battery and saving its power for more miles to drive.
- Forget about fast acceleration. Aggressive acceleration reduces your battery life the same as hard braking. Smooth changes in speed, as well as anticipating overtaking and braking having enough space for maneuvering – that is your key to energy efficiency.
- Use your eco-mode. Many electric vehicles are equipped with some kind of an economy mode that automatically chooses the most energy-efficient way to bring you from A to B. It keeps a consistent speed and takes control over some other parameters to provide longer battery life, though sometimes at the expense of performance.
- Pay attention to details. When driving in a big city with many charging opportunities, you are free to enjoy all the comfort your car can provide without thinking about details. But when it comes to a long trip and the possibility of being stuck with a dead battery off the beaten track, it is better to sacrifice comfort. You can save much of your battery power by just turning off the climate control or entertainment system. Also, make sure that your vehicle is not packed with lots of unnecessary stuff because a heavier car consumes more energy.
Safety Driving Techniques
It is rumored that electric vehicles are dangerous because of their batteries, which can catch on fire or radiate some emissions. In fact, the reported number of EV battery fires is much lower compared to that of gasoline and diesel cars even taking into account the gap in the number of electric and conventional vehicles on the road. No higher risk of exposure to chemicals or electromagnetic fields was found in the latest studies. So, there is no data based on science regarding EVs’ higher risks.
Moreover, some EVs boast the best scores in NHTSA, Euro NCAP and IIHS ratings, like Tesla Model S, Kia Soul EV or Ford Focus Electric. Tesla’s self-driving car is also known for its innovative driver assist feature that combines multiple sonars, cameras, and a radar on an advanced computing platform to provide an adaptive cruise control, autopark, and autosteer functions, speed assist, lane departure warning and other alerts.
While Tesla's full self-driving system tries to make driving an EV more comfortable and safe, you can just follow the regular recommendations on energy efficient driving, since they turn out to be the safest driving habits. Smooth and steady acceleration, gentle and rear braking, keeping proper distance and anticipating the next maneuver should make up an integral part of your daily practice.