Make the Most of Your Electric Car’s Range

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Posted on 28th February 2017 – Electric Cars


As we saw in our previous article on electric cars, their limited autonomy is still a factor that has been slowing down their adoption worldwide. Although it has been increasing steadily, it is nowhere near as long as a petrol tank will take you but, by following a few simple habits, you can make the most of a single charge.

Experiment with driving mode settings

Almost all modern electric vehicles allow you to change their performance settings to suit your driving needs and it pays to learn more about them and use them. While some modes will favour performance over battery range, others will maximize the latter by reusing the regenerative energy of breaking more aggressively for example.

Researching the driving mode settings of your car and gathering data from the different driving modes will give you a better understanding of how your car collects and uses energy and therefore enable you to use it more efficiently and extend your vehicle’s range.

Be good to your battery

Over time, the battery of an electric vehicle deteriorates, affecting how much charge it can hold and, as a consequence, limiting your car’s range. Batteries will normally retain at least 75% of their capacity for a minimum of 4 years, but various factors can influence those numbers.

Electric car batteries are sensitive to heat and leaving your car parked outside in the sun in hot weather will reduce the battery’s lifespan. By how much will depend on individual cars, but in a country like New Zealand with warm summers, you would be wise to find a shaded spot when you can. If you haven’t purchased your electric car yet, choose a model with an active cooling system. It will make a world of difference.

You may think that making sure that your car is always charged will extend the battery life. Paradoxically, it is quite the opposite. It has been shown that vehicles with lower average state of charge (SOC) fare better on the long run.

Foot off the accelerator

It is well-known that combustion-engine vehicles will consume more fuel if your driving is uneven, i.e. you accelerate and break often. This goes for electric cars too. The more aggressively you drive, the more charge you will use. So accelerate gradually and keep an eye on the traffic ahead so that you can anticipate changes and adapt your driving to keep your speed as even as possible. Coast when you can. While regenerative braking does preserve energy, it only recaptures a fraction of it when breaking hard so try to come to a stop naturally. It will save several kilometres worth of range.

Climate control

Lithium ion batteries are like Goldilocks: they like it not too hot but not too cold either.

As we saw above, heat affects the life expectancy of a battery, but cold is no better: it will reduce its charge by as much as 30%. In addition, the use of heating for our comfort is a huge drainer on the battery, depleting its charge fast.

Thanks to modern technology, there is however a way to prevent your battery being seriously drained before you have even set foot in your car: Smartphone apps allow you to pre-condition the battery as well as the cabin and warm it to right temperature while your vehicle it is still plugged in at your home for example, saving a considerable amount of energy.

This is an even more useful tool for companies with whole fleets of electric vehicles, as they can schedule usage to take place at the best time temperature wise, for example mornings and late afternoons in the summer and midday in the winter.


One of the advantages of electric vehicles is that they are relatively low maintenance. But that is not to say that they can be neglected. Like with conventional cars, under-inflated tyres will make the car sluggish and require more energy to move. Checking fluid levels and replacing air filters regularly can also extend the battery’s range by several kilometres per charge.

Route selection

Let’s face it: most of us lead a mainly uneventful life. Five days a week we go to work in the morning and come home in the evening and even our weekend activities can repeat themselves. For electric car owners, this is the perfect opportunity to optimise regular journeys.

Taking the highway may be the fastest way, but consider it from the point of view of battery use. Electric vehicles do better at slower, steady speeds so if using the motorway isn’t going to save you a significant amount of time then it may be worth considering a more efficient route that will extend your battery range.

Also, roads with steep gradients are energy drainers so avoid them as much as possible.

There are numerous Apps that can help you maximise your journeys, and some newer models of electric cars with built-in navigation systems now come with pre-loaded battery-saving algorithms.

Travel light

The heavier a vehicle, the less efficient it will be, whether it is electric or conventional, so make sure that you don’t leave non-essential items in your trunk when you are driving. It may only bring modest improvements but every little bit counts!

Don’t worry, be happy

Running out of juice unexpectedly is never fun, but studies have shown that drivers of electric vehicles can be over cautious. As we saw above, using your car with an almost full battery on a regular basis will affect its life expectancy so plan well but don’t plug your car every opportunity you get, just ‘in case’.

Get to know your car range and the routes you take to get the most out of each charge.

Individual or businesses, engine-combustion or electric, McCullough can help you import and export your vehicles. To find out more about our services, contact McCullough on +64 9 303 0075 or request a free quote.

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