How to Drive An Electric Car Efficiently

Driving an electric car efficiently requires a fair bit of skill if you are to maximise the potential of an EV’s cutting-edge technology. 

Understanding how to drive an electric car efficiently is where our guide comes in. We will run through the tips and tricks that ensure your electric car takes you from point A to B with optimal energy use!

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How to Drive An Electric Car Efficiently

Efficiency in an electric car is influenced by several factors, from how you accelerate and brake to how you manage the car’s auxiliary systems like heating and air conditioning. Unlike traditional cars where fuel consumption moves around a bit, EVs provide immediate feedback on energy usage, so drivers can adapt their driving for better efficiency.

The regenerative braking systems in EVs, for instance, are a game-changer, capturing kinetic energy and returning it to the battery. Mastering the use of regenerative braking can significantly extend your driving range.
Rapid acceleration and high-speed driving can deplete battery life more quickly, so maintaining steady speeds and utilising cruise control where appropriate can make a notable difference.

Eco modes available in most new EVs can help by limiting power output and conserving energy, which is particularly beneficial during long journeys or city driving where frequent stopping can occur. Let’s run through the top tips for efficient EV driving in detail:

Understand Your EV’s Features

  • Familiarise Yourself with Regenerative Braking
    Learn how your EV’s regenerative braking system works to convert kinetic energy into electric energy to recharge the battery while decelerating.

  • Use Eco Modes
    Activate the eco mode to reduce power output, which helps conserve energy and increase the range, especially during city drives with frequent stops.

Adopt Efficient EV Driving Habits

  • Smooth Acceleration
    Accelerate gently and steadily. Rapid acceleration can drain the battery more quickly than a smoother approach.

  • Maintain Steady Speeds
    Whenever possible, maintain a constant speed. Use cruise control on motorways to help with this.

  • Anticipate Traffic Flow
    By anticipating stops and starts in traffic, you can minimize hard braking and take advantage of regenerative braking instead.

  • Optimise Your Route
    Use GPS and route planning apps that account for traffic, road conditions, and elevation to find the most energy-efficient route.

Control Climate Settings

  • Precondition the Cabin
    Use the preconditioning feature while the car is still plugged in to bring the cabin to a comfortable temperature without using battery power.

  • Limit Air Conditioning/Heating While Driving
    Excessive use of heating and air conditioning can drain the battery. Use these features judiciously and consider seat warmers or cooling, which are more energy-efficient.

Maintain Your EV

  • Keep Tyres Properly Inflated
    Under-inflated EV tyres can decrease range by increasing rolling resistance.

  • Regular Maintenance
    Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for maintenance to ensure your vehicle is running efficiently.

  • Battery Care
    Avoid letting the battery drain completely or charging it to 100% all the time. Aim for moderate charge levels to extend battery life.

  • Monitor Battery Health
    Keep an eye on your battery’s health and performance over time with your EV’s diagnostic tools.

MORE> Why is my EV Taking So Long to Charge?

How Efficient Are Electric Cars

Electric cars are significantly more efficient than petrol or diesel engine cars.

They convert over 77% of the electrical energy from the grid to power at the wheels, compared to about 12-30% for conventional vehicles. Without the need for petrol, electric cars eliminate the inefficiencies of engine idling, energy lost to engine heat, and the drag of driving a traditional transmission.

Their regenerative braking systems recapture energy typically lost during braking, further improving their efficiency. Additionally, electric cars can be charged with renewable energy, such as solar or wind power, which can reduce greenhouse gas emissions even more. As battery technology continues to evolve and charging infrastructure expands, electric cars are poised to set new standards for vehicle efficiency.

Understanding Miles per kWh in EVs

Understanding miles per kWh in electric cars is essential for working out their efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Similar to how miles per gallon (mpg) measures the fuel efficiency of traditional cars, miles per kWh provides a metric for how many miles an EV can travel on a single kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity.

To put it in perspective, if an EV has a rating of 4 miles per kWh, this means that for every kilowatt-hour of electricity consumed, the vehicle can travel four miles. The higher this number, the more efficient the vehicle is considered to be.
It’s also a valuable tool for cost calculation. By knowing the cost per kWh charged (which varies depending on your electricity provider and plan), drivers can estimate the cost per mile and compare it to petrol cars. This allows you to properly work out if your EV is cheaper to run than a petrol car. Real-world efficiency can differ from the manufacturer’s stated miles per kWh due to your driving habits.

Gridserve Fast Charger

How to Drive Long Distance With an Electric Car

Driving long distances with an electric car requires a bit of planning and strategy to ensure a smooth, worry-free journey. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your trip:

  1. Plan Your Route in Advance
    Use apps or websites to plan your route around EV charging stations. Consider charging infrastructure and choose paths that pass through multiple charging points to avoid range anxiety.

  2. Precondition Your Car
    If possible, precondition your EV while it’s still plugged in to reach your desired cabin temperature. This reduces battery drain for heating or cooling once you start driving.

  3. Drive Efficiently
    Maintain steady speeds, use regenerative braking to recapture energy, and avoid rapid acceleration to extend your battery’s range.

  4. Use Eco Mode
    Activate your EV’s eco mode, if available, to optimize battery usage and increase your range.

  5. Pack Lightly
    The heavier the car, the more energy it uses. Pack only what you need to reduce unnecessary weight.

  6. Charge Smart
    Aim to charge your battery up to 80% at fast chargers to save time, as charging speed typically slows down significantly after reaching this level to protect the battery’s health.

  7. Have Backup Charging Plans
    Have a backup plan in case your preferred charging station is out of service or occupied. Being flexible with your stops can make the journey less stressful.

  8. Get Breakdown Cover
    Should you run out of charge, many electric car breakdown cover providers offer a roadside recharge service.

  9. Keep Entertainment Charged
    Long trips mean you’ll likely need entertainment or navigation from your devices, so bring along portable chargers or power banks to keep them charged without draining the car’s battery.

MORE> Portable EV Chargers

What is Eco Mode in EVs?

Eco Mode in electric cars helps with driving efficiency and extends the vehicle’s range. When turned on, Eco Mode adjusts various parameters of the EV’s performance such as throttle response, power output, and climate control settings to prioritise energy conservation over speed or power.

This mode is especially handy during city driving or in scenarios where maximizing range is more critical than dynamic performance.

By moderating acceleration and reducing the maximum speed, Eco Mode ensures that the battery’s energy is used more sparingly, which can significantly increase the miles driven on a single charge. It also limits the energy consumption of auxiliary systems like air conditioning and heating, which are known to be substantial energy drains.

Can You Drive an EV in Eco Mode All the Time?

Yes, you can drive an electric car in Eco Mode all the time if you want. Driving in Eco Mode consistently will lead to noticeable savings in energy usage over time, especially in city driving where frequent stopping and starting occurs. While it may slightly alter the driving experience by tempering acceleration and top speed, for many, the trade-off in extended range and reduced energy costs is well worth it.

Do Electric Cars Use More Energy on the Motorway?

Yes, electric cars use more energy on the motorway compared to city driving. This increase in energy consumption is because of the aerodynamic drag when you drive faster.

As an EV accelerates to higher speeds like you would on a motorway, it encounters greater resistance from the air, requiring more power from the battery to maintain speed and overcome this drag. Consequently, the faster you drive, the more energy the vehicle consumes, leading to a reduction in overall range.

In contrast, city driving often involves lower speeds and more frequent stops, which allows electric cars to take advantage of regenerative braking.

The Final Word on How to Drive An Electric Car Efficiently

If you want to drive your EV more efficiently, hopefully, you have picked up some useful advice from the techniques and strategies outlined above! They can significantly extend your driving range.

From optimising the use of Eco Mode to understanding the dynamics of motorway energy consumption, efficient EV driving requires a mindful approach to driving. By driving electric cars efficiently, we go a step further in our attempts to reduce our carbon footprint.


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