The cost of charging an electric car using a public charger has increased once again, as drivers will now need to fork out over £220 more per year on average.
Just like looking after your smartphone, your electric vehicle’s battery also needs to be properly cared for if you’re going to get the best out of it in terms of range and longevity.
And your charging and driving habits can actually have a bearing on battery performance in the long run.
Graham Conway, Managing Director at Select Car Leasing, has shared five mistakes often made by Electric Vehicle (EV) drivers and how to avoid them going forward, helping you go the distance with your EV.
Graham says: “The good news for modern motorists is that an EV’s lithium-ion battery should be good for at least 100,000 miles. In fact, most manufacturers stipulate that distance in their warranties – or around eight years.
“When you lease an EV, typically for around two to three years, battery life isn’t something you necessarily need to worry about either.
“But it still pays to keep battery longevity at the forefront of your mind when enjoying an EV, and there are some simple dos and don’ts when it comes to keeping it in tip-top condition – and making the most out of your battery’s range.”
Below, Graham highlights the common mistakes drivers make which will impact battery life and range between charges:
Mistake 1- Ditching ‘Eco’ mode
An electric vehicle battery is designed to last for a certain number of charging cycles and one ‘cycle’ equals a complete charging and discharging cycle.
Most electric vehicle batteries have an estimated 1500 to 2000 charge cycles. The more aggressively you drive, the sooner you will need to charge your EV. So, you can see why recharging more frequently could ultimately cause your battery’s lifetime to be shortened accordingly.
There is an easy solution; modern electric vehicles are equipped with tech that caters to a more economical way of driving.
Driving in ‘eco’ mode is not only beneficial for your battery, but it’s also a great way to cut down on costs, as you’ll eke-out more per charge in terms of range. Therefore it is extremely beneficial to apply eco-driving principles as often as you can.
Mistake 2 – Opting for rapid charge too often
Whilst you can boost the charge of your EV in no time thanks to rapid DC charging, frequently opting for rapid or ultra-rapid charging is not the best idea for the lifespan of an electric vehicle’s battery life.
Recent research by the University of Oxford found that ‘ultra-rapid charging causes ‘more degradation of the most common electric vehicle batteries than fast charging’, though your EV’s heat management system works hard to counter the effects.
The experts noted around a 3% battery ‘degradation’ rate after 300 ultra-rapid charging cycles compared with home charging.
So, if you do drive a lot and tend to mainly charge at rapid charging stations, over the course of hundreds of charging cycles you might experience premature damage.
The best solution here is to use slow or regular fast charging as your default battery replenishing solution – and to keep rapid and ultra-rapid charging for longer journeys or rarer occasions.
If you know you’re going to be leaving your car unused for an extended period of time – perhaps a few weeks while you jet away on a summer holiday – leaving the battery fully charged isn’t recommended.
In fact, Renault says doing this could actually accelerate the wear on battery cells.
The manufacturer’s engineers recommend charging your battery to ‘no more than 50%’ before leaving the car to sit for a few weeks, or months, without being driven.
And if you’re leaving a car at the airport, make sure you leave it with a minimum charge of around 20% so that there’s enough power to keep the car’s vital systems ticking over, and to ensure you’ve got enough range to get home at the end of your trip.
Mistake 4- Not looking after your tyres properly
This tip is less about extending battery life and more about improving your car’s range between charges.
To really make the most of our EV’s range, make sure that your tyre pressure is as close to the manufacturer’s specification as possible.
If your tyres are underinflated, your EV range will be negatively affected because there’s more ‘rolling resistance’ at the wheels, causing you to have to use more energy to travel a certain distance.
Either check your onboard tyre pressure monitoring system or use an inflation machine at your nearest petrol station to check them on a regular basis.
Electric vehicles are also heavier – and are often quicker to accelerate – than traditionally-fuelled cars, so it’s good to keep a close eye on tyre wear as well as tyre pressure.
If your tyres do need replacing, always make sure to replace them with models designed specifically for electric vehicles. This is because of the additional wear and tear from additional weight and instant torque.
Mistake 5- Not taking full advantage of regenerative braking
One of the smartest features in an EV, regenerative braking is a unique way of capturing a vehicle’s kinetic energy and channelling it back into the battery.
In other words, the energy generated from an EV’s forward motion – and which would have been wasted when the vehicle decelerates or comes to a standstill while braking in a traditionally-fuelled car – doesn’t get lost.
Along with slowing the car down, regenerative braking produces a small amount of energy to return to the battery. And additional energy to the battery means more range.
Whilst the energy returned to the battery is pretty small, it can definitely add up during a long trip. Most EVs offer a one-pedal driving system that can completely bring a car to a stop with regenerative braking and no use of friction brakes.
Most EVs have a number of different regenerative braking settings, from one where the system is really noticeable and when you’ll feel the sensation of braking the minute you lift your right foot from the accelerator pedal, to setting it up so that it’s barely noticeable.
To really make the most of regenerative braking – and to again make optimum use of your battery’s range – we’d recommend the strongest setting where appropriate.
Doing this will not only reduce fuel consumption and save money in the short term, it can help to reduce the number of battery charging cycles in the long term.