Tips for Florida drivers to get the most out of an electric vehicle
All vehicles feel the impact from temperature extremes. The second greatest impact to the performance of an electric car, behind extreme-cold, is extreme heat. For EV owners in Florida who feel their vehicle may be under-performing, there are a number of easy to follow ways to boost the performance of an electric car in hot weather.
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Only pack what you need, keep your car tidy
Carrying excess luggage in your vehicle increases its overall weight. It may only be a few pounds, but over time this content will end up costing you overall range. Other contents such as roof-racks and bicycle carriers weigh down your vehicle and create aerodynamic resistance. By planning ahead for each trip you’ll be able to load and unload what you need from your vehicle. This will help improve your EV’s range, not to mention keep your car looking new.
Pre-condition your electric vehicle’s cabin temperature
Getting into a hot car on a hot and humid day is not an enjoyable experience. The normal reaction would be to get in, start the car, and blast the A/C on max until you stop sweating. However, doing this in an electric car may cost you overall range. Lucky, there is an easy solution to combat ‘cabin fever’ in an EV and preserve your battery.
By planning ahead, EV owners can have a cooled cabin and a topped-up battery. When your EV is plugged in at home or at a public charging station, run the vehicles air conditioning 10 minutes before departure. By cooling the cabin while still plugged in, the vehicle is essentially running the air conditioning from an outlet. Meaning, a cool cabin won’t cost miles of range on the road.
Park inside, underground, or in the shade
Like any other type of vehicle, EV’s perform best within certain parameters. One of these parameters, outside temperature plays a major role in overall performance. To extend the optimal performance range of these vehicles, electric vehicle manufacturers are meticulous about managing the impact of temperature on key components, like the battery.
Battery cooling aka thermal management systems are in use on all modern electric vehicles. This system is designed to cool and heat the battery to within an optimal performance range. This system can be active, even when the vehicle is parked. It does this to preserve the battery, avoid unnecessary degradation and ensure optimal performance. So, on a swelteringly hot day, an EV may be cooling itself even though it is parked, turned off and not plugged in.
For this reason, it is important for electric vehicle owners to park in areas without direct sunlight, or in cooler areas such as underground parking garages when possible. This action will avoid the need for the thermal management system to operate, saving you precious battery power.
Limit the use of cabin air conditioning
Air conditioning is a necessity in Florida’s heat and humidity. In an electric vehicle, it’s important to remember that the energy to run the A/C is coming off of the vehicles total range. In a moment of range anxiety, you may think to turn off the A/C and all other electronics altogether. However, by planning ahead and following a few guidelines you’ll avoid the sweltering heat and the fear of running low on energy.
By limiting the use of cabin air-conditioning, using zone-controls and directing vents properly you can stay as cool with lower A/C and fan settings. If available, operating cooled seats instead of cooling the entire cabin will also save energy by not wasting energy cooling a largely unused vehicle cabin.
Once the vehicle is at a comfortable temperature, turn those setting back down. Continuously and excessively blowing cool air throughout the cabin could be wasting energy which would be used for extending the vehicle’s range.
Smart use of auxiliary power and electronics
Similar to running the AC excessively, the speakers and touch screens in an electric vehicle all draw power from the vehicle’s battery. This draw on the battery will come at a cost to the overall range. While the normal use of the in-car electronics will not be detrimental to the battery capacity, prolonged indulgent use of the cars speaker system may. So, before installing an aftermarket sub-bass stereo system in your electric vehicle, consider it’s overall impact on the vehicles state of charge. So, enjoy your music, but you may want to reconsider turning it up to ’11’ for the duration of your next trip.
Avoid excessively high speeds
Hey, did you know that aerodynamic drag is square the relative speed to a maximum at Mach 1.0? It does. While I hope vehicles aren’t attempting to reach Mach 1.0 on public roads, the physics apply to all vehicles. Basically, the faster your vehicle travels the less efficient it will be. Manufacturers combat this by creating aerodynamic vehicles to reduce the drag coefficient. However, no matter how sleek your vehicle is, the physics still apply.
To maintain higher speeds an electric vehicle motor requires progressively more energy. This, of course, will drain the battery at a faster rate. So, you have the choice between getting there faster or going further. If you are not in a rush, taking the ‘back roads’ and enjoying the scenery could get you a 20 to 28 MPGe increase in range efficiency.
Go with the flow, smooth acceleration, and braking
Going with the flow will improve your EV range efficiency. The easiest way to do this is to predict traffic events, and traffic lights so that you are able to smoothly accelerate a decelerate as well as avoid unnecessarily accelerating or stopping quickly.
To assist with this manufacturers have included an ‘eco mode’ on most vehicles. This setting will limit sudden power output to improve gradual acceleration for heavy-footed drivers. You will feel less punch when you floor the accelerator, but it definitely helps keep a battery from draining faster than it should.
- Only pack what you need, keep your car tidy
- Pre-condition your electric vehicle’s cabin temperature
- Park inside, underground, or in the shade
- Limit the use of cabin air conditioning
- Smart use of auxiliary power and electronics
- Avoid excessively high speeds
- Go with the flow, smooth acceleration, and braking
No one starts driving an electric vehicle like an expert, so be patient as you learn the technology. Remember that everything you turn on that requires electricity will drain battery power and ultimately range. EV manuals offer tips on getting the most out of your particular model, so read through it carefully when you have a chance. We’ll keep you posted on what’s working best for us.
If you’re an EV owner in Florida, check out Duke Charge FL: