You’ve Gone Electric? Now Learn To Drive Efficiently


3.9.2019 – by Giles Kirkland

Electric cars’ performance depends strongly on their battery. As an EV owner, there is quite a lot you can do to help your EV reach its highest long-term performance while also making it serve you well on a daily basis. Here are tips to optimize your battery usage (which means more freedom) and to protect it in the long term.

Good Old Practices

Thankfully, most of the advice on efficient driving that applies to fossil fuel cars is directly applicable to electric cars too. For example, if you leave useless weight in the trunk, carrying it around will ultimately cost you more energy than needed. Similarly, a nervous driving style in the city with frequent stops and starts will use more energy (just like it would use more fuel).

While the climate in Ireland does not necessarily require much air conditioning, which consumes quite a lot of energy, we do need heating, which consumes a similar amount of power. Opening your windows at low speed saves battery power and autonomy. You also need to make sure that your tyres are properly inflated and that your car’s fluids are taken care of. Nothing really new.

With an electric car though, there are many small things that can make a difference which would not matter so much with a standard vehicle.

New Solutions

The first way to keep your battery usage as efficient as possible is to use the original charging mode, and also to collect data after your trips.

Importantly, your battery charge does not need to reach 100%. As soon as you reach 80% you have enough power for most of your travel around Ireland. Consider that Dublin-Galway is just 208 km apart, while from the north of Ireland (say Glenveagh National Park) to Cork the drive is only 470 km.

Depending on which EV model you have, maximum ranges vary from around 120km up to 550km. If you’re going on a longer route with an electric car, you may want to plan your journey so that your stops coincide with places where your car can be charged, e.g. while you have lunch. So check such spots before you leave and plan your pit stops in advance.

Speed, storage and driving style

Your battery is very sensitive to temperatures. Fortunately, Irish summers and winters are mild, but you should remember that storing your EV in a garage will help your battery operate better. This might be especially meaningful in landlocked or higher altitude counties like Westmeath, Longford, or Cork).

Apart from the obvious advantages of a relaxed driving style in the city, you should also know that respecting speed limits will allow you to increase your EV battery performance. Also, more steady increases in speed will be more economical than aggressive driving on motorways. Therefore, your driving will be more efficient, and your battery will last longer when you are more relaxed. Finally, the difference in power when driving uphill that increases fuel usage might be more visible with an electric car than with a petrol car.

Regenerative braking is a feature which does not exist in petrol cars. You should nonetheless be aware that only a part of the energy is recovered, and that more stable speed is even more efficient!

Driving an electric car efficiently and ensuring the longevity of your battery is quite similar to the common sense advice that applies to petrol cars. Take into account the temperatures, charge levels, driving style – and you’re good to go!

About the author
Giles Kirkland is an automotive industry researcher and writer. He focuses mainly on the technological, scientific and sustainable aspect of the automotive. Keeping track of all current developments, Giles shares his knowledge and experience with other motoring and technology enthusiasts across the globe. You can find his articles on Twitter and Oponeo.