What factors affect electric vehicle range?

Electric vehicle range factors

Your EV range can drop in response to lots of things, from switching on the climate control and braking too sharply too often, to driving in low temperatures and setting off with a cold battery.

The good news is that in the real-world, most people get within 15% of the estimated range, with range loss easily attributable to driver behaviour.

The following factors affect EV range the most:

  • Battery capacity: The larger the battery capacity, the longer the range a vehicle can travel.
  • Driving habits: Driving more powerfully or aggressively has a negative effect on range.
  • Vehicle weight: Heavier vehicles require more energy to maintain speed, resulting in a decreased range.
  • Use of climate control: Running climate control uses more energy, reducing range.
  • Tyre pressure: Maintaining proper tyre pressure helps maintain efficiency, increasing range.
  • Terrain: Driving uphill requires more energy, reducing range.
  • Wind resistance: Wind resistance increases at higher speeds and reduces range.

How does temperature reduce EV range?

Temperature can reduce EV range in multiple ways. First, cold air can reduce the efficiency of the battery. This can cause the vehicle to use more power and consume more energy.

Additionally, the cold temperature causes the battery to be less efficient, further reducing the range of the vehicle. Heating might also be used to maintain a comfortable cabin temperature, which increases energy consumption and reduces the range.

Related: How to choose an EV home charger

Pre-heating the battery can improve the range of an electric vehicle by allowing the battery to remain at an optimal temperature while driving.

When a battery is cold, it can produce less power and consume more energy, reducing the range. Pre-heating reduces resistance in the cells and increases the efficiency of the battery, thus improving range.

What are the worst driving habits for lower electric car range?

The worst driving habits for lower electric car range are:

  • Driving aggressively and accelerating quickly: This increases the amount of power needed, resulting in lower range.
  • Rapid Braking: Rapid braking reduces energy regeneration, reducing range.
  • Driving at high speeds: Higher speeds increase wind resistance, further lowering range.
  • Taking routes with high elevation: Climbing hills can consume more energy and reduce range.
  • Dragging an excessive load: Heavier loads require more energy and can reduce the range.
  • Leaving climate control on when not necessary: Unnecessary use of air-conditioning increases energy needs and reduces range.

How to drive an electric car efficiently

Here’s how you can drive your electric car more efficiently:

  • Accelerate gradually: Accelerating gradually reduces energy consumption and improves range.
  • Use the regenerative braking system: Regenerative braking systems recycle energy and improve range.
  • Follow the speed limit: Reduced speed reduces energy consumption and improves range.
  • Take the most efficient route: Avoiding hills, windy roads, and long distances can improve range.
  • Pre-heat/cool the Battery: Pre-heating/cooling the battery increases efficiency and range.
  • Plan for charging: Recharging the battery during travels increases range.
  • Keep tyres properly inflated: Properly inflated tyres require less energy and improve range.
  • Use cruise control: Maintaining a constant speed reduces power output and improves range.

EV batteries also lose capacity (and range) over time

EV batteries lose capacity over time as they age and are used frequently. The loss of charge varies by model and manufacturer, but typically, a new battery will lose about 5-100% of its capacity over the course of five years.

Batteries lose capacity over time due to a variety of factors, including chemical reactions that take place within the cells. The cells of a battery contain a mixture of materials known as an electrolyte, which when mixed together generate a charge.

Over time, these chemical reactions and the resulting charge output become weaker and weaker, reducing the battery’s capacity.

In addition to more general chemical reactions, usage and charging habits can also contribute to the reduction of capacity over time. Overcharging a battery can cause the cells to degrade quickly, reducing capacity.

Similarly, a battery that is drained to its maximum capacity on a frequent basis can also cause it to lose capacity more quickly over time. This decrease in charge can result in a significant drop in range.

To offset this, manufacturers might consider offering battery replacement/upgrade programs so that drivers can keep their original vehicle but with a newer, more powerful battery and an improved range.

James Lewis is our resident electrical head. He drives an MG ZS EV (2018, which he loves) and plans to get the new one soon. James is much more excited by the lower end of the EV market and is looking forward to the Ora Cat.