We all know EVs are here, and they are here to stay. EVs have emerged as a promising solution to combat environmental concerns and reduce dependence on fossil fuels while giving the sheer pleasure of speed and acceleration.
Though mass adoption of the EV is promised, one of the critical aspects shaping the adoption of EVs is their range.
The range of an EV is the distance it can travel on a single charge.
Factors affecting Electric Vehicle range
While numerous myths and misconceptions lie around the EV range, understanding the real factors that affect this range is crucial for both current EV owners and prospective buyers.
#1. Battery Capacity and Technology
The battery pack is the heart of an EV. Its capacity, measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh), significantly impacts the range. The higher the capacity of an EB battery, the longer the EV can travel on a single charge.
The Tesla Model S Long Range, equipped with a 100 kWh battery, boasts a range of approximately 370 miles, showcasing the impact of larger battery capacities on the range.
Battery technology is also very crucial in deciding the EV range, such as improved energy density, fast-charging capabilities, charging and discharging algorithms, and battery chemistry all have a direct correlation with an EV’s range.
#2. Driving Habits
This one can be directly related to the mileage of an ICE vehicle. Driving style and behaviour play a pivotal role in the range of an EV.
Aggressive acceleration, frequent braking, and high-speed driving consume more energy, thereby reducing the range.
Smooth, steady driving at moderate speeds optimises energy usage and extends the range.
Driving an electric automobile at high speeds (65+ MPH) also decreases its range.
Read this article to know how to find the energy consumption. and the factors that affect the energy consumption of electric vehicles.
For instance, the EPA rating for the Model 3 Standard Range Plus with aero wheels was 240 miles and as of right now, that rating has been raised to 250 miles. The range is exactly at the current EPA rating when being driven at 65 mph. Nevertheless, the range drops to 232 and 213 miles at 70 and 75 mph respectively. In other words, when driving at 75 mph, around 15% of your range will be lost.
Aggressive driving habits can reduce range by up to 30% compared to more conservative driving styles. Driving at lower and steady speed extends the range compared to rapid acceleration and abrupt braking at higher speeds.
#3. Temperature and Climate Control
Extreme temperatures affect battery performance. Cold weather increases internal resistance, reducing the battery’s efficiency. Extreme hot weather also can degrade the battery over time.
When the outside temperature drops, the battery will have to spend energy to warm itself. The engine block of an internal combustion engine (ICE) generates a significant quantity of waste heat that may be used to heat the fuel, the cabin, or other components and operations of the vehicle. ICE heats up naturally to operate at its best. In an electric vehicle, the heat required to warm vital components and operations must be produced utilising energy stored in the battery.
You will notice a minor decrease in range in cold weather (below 50 degrees Fahrenheit) since the battery needs time to warm up. The range loss is particularly pronounced below 30 degrees.
Additionally, using heating or air conditioning in the vehicle drains the battery faster, impacting the overall range.
#4. Vehicle Weight
The weight of the vehicle and its cargo directly influences energy consumption. Heavier vehicles require more energy to move, leading to a reduced range. Hence, carrying excess load or cargo can negatively impact the EV’s efficiency.
Overloading an EV with excessive cargo or passengers leads to increased energy consumption, resulting in a decreased range.
#5. Terrain and Road Conditions
Driving uphill, on rough terrains, or in heavy traffic demands more energy from the EV. Conversely, smooth roads and downhill drives improve efficiency, positively affecting the range. Climbing steep inclines can reduce the range significantly, often by 20-40%, compared to driving on flat terrain.
Driving uphill for 10 miles on a mountainous road can substantially impact an EV’s range compared to driving the same distance on a level surface.
#6. Accessory Usage
Modern EVs like Rivian and Tesla are power-packed with accessories to increase riding comfort. Utilising accessories like heated seats, sound systems, or headlights can draw power from the battery, affecting the overall range. Minimising the use of these accessories can help conserve energy.
While using these amenities in an EV, one has to keep in mind that all this energy is being drawn from the battery alone and there is no alternator in an EV, unlike the ICE vehicle.
#7. Tire Pressure and Type
You might have experienced a slight increase or decrease in mileage in your ICE according to your tire pressure. This is the same with an EV as well because the rolling resistance of tires is an important factor affecting the range.
Underinflated tires increase rolling resistance, requiring more energy to move the vehicle. Using low-resistance tires and maintaining optimal tire pressure can enhance efficiency and extend the range.
Also, a reduction in range may result from poor tyre traction as well. Tyre quality, tyre pressure, and road conditions are the three elements that affect tyre traction. You should anticipate a little drop in range if you are driving an EV with tires nearing the end of their useful life and the roads are moist from rain or any other reasons.
#8. Regenerative Braking
Regenerative braking increases the range of an EV to a small extent. EVs often employ regenerative braking systems that capture energy during deceleration or braking, converting it back into usable electricity. Efficient utilisation of regenerative braking can improve range by recycling energy that would otherwise be lost.
Efficient use of regenerative braking can increase an EV’s range by up to 12% by capturing and reusing energy during deceleration. Hybrids like the Toyota Prius use regenerative braking to recharge their batteries while slowing down or braking, thereby enhancing their overall efficiency.
#9. Charging Infrastructure
Another important factor affecting EV range is the charging infrastructure. Access to charging stations and the type of charger used can impact an EV’s range because fast chargers may heat the battery, affecting its efficiency, while slower chargers might take longer but can be gentler on the battery.
Fast charging, while convenient, can reduce battery life and efficiency due to increased heat generation. Charging an EV using a high-speed DC charger frequently might degrade the battery faster compared to slower, overnight charging using a standard home charger.
#10. Age and Maintenance of the Vehicle & Battery
Finally, one of the main factors influencing the range of an electric car is battery deterioration. A brand-new electric vehicle will have a 100% State of Health (SOH), thus the range will not be affected due to battery health during the initial years. To reduce this gradual degradation of EV battery packs, a thermal Management System (TMS) is fitted unlike the laptop or mobile phone batteries.
Even then, battery degradation occurs over time, reducing its overall capacity and consequently affecting the range.
EV batteries may degrade around 2-3% per year, impacting overall capacity and range over time. Regularly following manufacturer-recommended maintenance schedules, including proper charging practices and avoiding deep discharges, can help mitigate battery degradation and maintain optimal range.
When you closely observe the factors we discussed here, you will find that most of them are similar to ICE vehicles and their mileage. However understanding the peculiar factors and their influence on an electric vehicle’s range empowers owners and prospective buyers to make informed decisions.
Advancements in technology, coupled with conscious driving practices and proper maintenance, can help maximise the range and optimise the overall EV experience. As the EV industry continues to evolve, addressing these factors will play a vital role in enhancing the viability and widespread adoption of electric vehicles.