How to Drive an Electric Car Efficiently


Electric cars can perform very impressively. Still, driving an electric car efficiently can be a daunting task if you are not sure what you are doing. Since electric cars are a clean alternative to gas-powered cars, many people are trying to get the most out of the technology. Therefore, they are trying to learn how to drive their cars properly.

Luckily, a lot of the ways people drive gas-powered cars efficiently can be transferred to driving an electric car. While there are additional things to be aware of, it is not a hard thing to get used to. Read on to discover all you need to know about how to drive an electric car efficiently.

What Is the Most Efficient Speed to Drive an Electric Car?

One aspect of efficiently driving a gas-powered car that can be used with an electric car is speed. Most people know that when they drive a gas-powered car, the faster they drive the more gas they will use up. Consider these points when it comes to an electric car’s speed.

  • Electric cars are more efficient when driven slowly.
  • Fast speeds put undue stress on the battery.
  • Constantly going fast then slow will diminish the performance of the battery.

When you drive slower, you use less energy. Gas-powered vehicles can be more forgiving when it comes to speed. However, this does not mean that electric vehicles, which are powered entirely by batteries, are not a good option.

The basic principle of using more energy the faster you drive applies to electric cars. Think about the energy it takes to run faster. The same goes for a battery in an electric car. If you press down on the accelerator you are inevitably using energy from the battery to make the car go faster.

So what is the most efficient speed to drive an electric car? Theoretically, the most efficient speed would be under 10 mph, but no one can drive that slow and expect to get anywhere in the 21st century. Instead, it is suggested that you not drive over 60 mphif you want to get the most out of your electric car without drastically affecting its range.

If you maintain a speed of around 60 mph (preferably in the mid-50s), you will be driving your electric car at its most efficient speed.

Properly Inflate the Tires

As with gas-powered cars, tire pressure can affect the efficiency of an electric car’s performance. Yet, many people do not check their tire pressure until the light on the dashboard comes on.

Improperly inflated tires can impact the efficiency of an electric vehicle. This is why it is important to check them periodically and add air when necessary. You should use a tire pressure gauge to check the psi in your tires to make sure that they are in the range recommended by the manufacturer.

When a tire is improperly inflated, it can have the following impacts on the efficiency of your electric car.

  • High rolling resistance
  • More heat dissipation
  • Loss of range

Checking your tires’ air pressure is not difficult, and you do not need to wait for the dashboard light to fill them with air.

  • Remove the cap of the tire.
  • Using a tire-pressure gauge, place it in the valve stem.
  • The back of the gauge will shoot up, which will give you a psi reading.
  • If the pressure is too low, even just a little, you can add air to the tire.

How Tires Affect Efficiency

It is also important to understand how tire pressure can affect the efficiency of an electric car.

When a tire is under-inflated, it is slightly deformed. It does not have the same firmness as a properly inflated tire. If you have ever seen a tire that looks like it is more squashed into the ground then you have seen an improperly inflated tire.

You want the tires to be firm. This will allow them to support the weight of the vehicle, and it will allow the tires to perform at the highest standard that they can. Remember that tires constantly are losing small amounts of air. This is okay and happens over time, which is why it is very important to regularly check your tire pressure.

There have been studies that have shown that properly inflated tires improve the range and efficiency of electric vehicles. Sometimes, these numbers are small (around 10%) and sometimes the increase in efficiency can exceed 20%. It depends on both the quality of the tire and the inflation of the tire.

Plan Your Route

Many external elements can affect the efficiency of an electric car. Some things are out of your control, like the weather, and there are things within your control, like the route of your trip.

How you get to your location is an important factor that goes into the range of your electric vehicle. So, before you hop on the highway to get to your next destination, you should carefully consider if that is the right option for your car.

Taking the highway may seem like the obvious choice to get from point A to B. It is the fastest route, after all. Yet, when it comes to electric vehicles, it may not always be the best decision. Consider these elements of a route that can impact your electric car’s range and, therefore, its efficiency.

  • Inclines
  • Highways
  • Heavily trafficked areas

Consider the heavily trafficked areas and how they can impact your electric car’s range. Driving fast is well-known to diminish the range and efficiency of an electric car. Stopping and starting over and over again, like when you are stuck in slow-moving traffic, is also bad for your electric car’s efficiency. If you can avoid going through these densely populated areas, such as cities, you should do so. 

Understand Your Electric Car’s Range

Before you begin planning your new route, you should take the time to familiarize yourself with your electric car’s range and why it is important for the efficiency of your vehicle.

The range of your electric car is a vital statistic that means quite a lot. Understanding your electric car’s range is crucial to being more efficient when you drive. Consider what the range of an electric vehicle means for you, the driver.

  • The range indicates how far you can travel before charging the battery.
  • A good range can be the difference between being stranded and being at your location.
  • A bad range can make simple trips much more complicated.

All electric vehicles are advertised with a range. These can vary anywhere from 110 miles to 373 miles. Most, however, will fall somewhere in the middle of that range. Nevertheless, these numbers are a little deceiving.

Why are they deceiving? The fact is that most electric cars do not make their estimated range. The reason? The estimated range of an electric car is considered the maximum it can go, but that does not mean it can consistently make that number. Many factors go into whether it will reach its maximum, and the route you take is one of those factors.

Avoid Hilly Areas When Possible

When planning your route, you should try to avoid hilly areas whenever you can. If you live in a hilly or mountainous region, this may be difficult for you to achieve. However, if there are routes that have fewer inclines, this will also help.

Many electric vehicles have features that can calculate the best routes for you to take. These tools consider the performance and range of the vehicle to pick the best way for you to take. It is advantageous to use this feature if it is available to you. It will save you the hassle and time of creating the route yourself.

However, if you do not have this feature, or you prefer to do it yourself, the first thing to do is try to avoid those hills. Electric vehicles perform better on flat, even roads. When an electric car travels on flat roads they are more efficient. Inclines of any sort, whether they are slight or steep, negatively impact both the efficiency and the range of the vehicle.

This is because when an electric vehicle goes up an incline, it requires more energy to do so. You have to push the accelerator down to compensate for the increase in incline. Moreover, the car has to haul itself up against gravity. This will stress the battery and cause it to use more energy. 

Avoid Highways if You Can

Hills are not the only things you should try and avoid on your next trip. You should also try, whenever you can, to avoid highways. This one may sound counterintuitive because if you want to get somewhere fast you use the highway.

However, as mentioned earlier, when you drive fast you use more energy. The more energy you use, the less efficient your electric vehicle becomes. If you want to drive an electric car efficiently, you have to be smart about how you travel.

There are a few things to keep in mind when planning your route to avoid highways.

  • Your trip may take longer. A highway is usually a straight shot to wherever you are going. So, when you opt for alternate routes, it may take you longer in miles. However, if you travel by highway, especially on a longer trip, your range will decrease.
  • You will have to travel slower. The point of using alternate routes that do not include major highways is to travel slower. This way you can stay beneath your most efficient speed of 60 mph. 
  • Your range will be better. When you travel via alternate routes, your range will be better. You will be driving efficiently because you can travel longer without having to charge up your battery.
  • You can opt to drive the minimum speed limit. If finding an alternate is not possible, you can always opt to drive beneath the speed limit on a highway. Highways do have a minimum speed limit, usually around 45 mph. However, you must travel in the right-most lane. You can maintain a good speed in that lane.

If it is possible, however, try to avoid highways. This will help maintain your range and help maintain the performance of your battery.  

Avoid Using the Climate Control

If you live in a region that has cold weather, or you live in a region that has very warm weather, it might seem impossible to avoid using your climate control. However, the climate control system in an electric vehicle can deplete its efficiency.

It is tempting to want to blast the heat on a cold day, but the heating system in an electric car uses a lot of energy that could be used elsewhere in the vehicle. Remember, everything in the vehicle, including how it drives, is connected to the battery system. In a gas-powered car, the battery is not taxed with the duties of the engine.

Moreover, the AC system uses a lot of energy, too. In the warmer months, it will be tempting to want to put the AC on ten. However, you should avoid this whenever you can. Just like the heating system, the AC will divert energy away from other parts of the car. Additionally, this diversion of energy will reduce the range of the vehicle.

Consider the following points when it comes to using the climate control features in your electric car.

  • The heating system can deplete the range of an electric car up to 60 miles.
  • The AC system can drain the battery quickly.
  • It is better to use other means of heating and cooling your car.

It is also important to use climate control when absolutely necessary. Sometimes people will put the AC on when it is not that warm out. As with everything regarding an electric car, it is best to act smart.

Climate Control Alternatives

Using climate control has become second nature to many who drive. When you are using an electric car, however, you have to think more about how you use it. Now, this does not mean that in a gas-powered vehicle you should not also think about how and when you use climate control, but it is not as important as in an electric car.

There are several alternatives to using your climate control in the way you are probably used to. Consider the following alternatives, which will help maintain both the efficiency and range of the vehicle.

  • Preheat the car. If it is really cold outside, and you need the inside of the vehicle to be nice and warm, you should preheat it while it is still charging. This way you do not use up the battery’s energy, but you still get the car warm.
  • Pre-cool the car. In the warmer months, you can pre-cool the car the same way you preheated it in the cold months. Most importantly, make sure the car is still plugged in so that you do not deplete any of its energy before you begin driving. 
  • Open the windows. Opening the windows is a classic way of “cooling” down the inside of your car. It is best to open the windows when it is not too warm outside. While opening the windows may create a little extra drag, it will not deplete the efficiency of the car the same way as the air conditioner.
  • Use heated seats or steering wheels. In the winter, you can use the heated seats and steering wheel, if your vehicle has these features. This will help heat the inside of the car where it is important without using the same energy as the full heating system. These heaters use far less energy.

When you avoid using the climate control features, you will increase the efficiency of your electric vehicle as you are driving. Remember, any energy you can save while driving is going to benefit you.

Use Regenerative Braking Whenever Possible

When you are driving an electric vehicle, the battery is being drained as you use it. The more you drive, the more energy will be consumed. The more energy you consume the less efficient it becomes.

To drive an electric car efficiently, you need to take advantage of all ways to conserve the battery’s energy. From traveling different routes that omit hills and highways to avoiding using climate control. However, there is another way to conserve energy that is unique to electric vehicles, and it is called regenerative braking.

Regenerative braking is a way that you can recharge the battery as you are driving. Here are some points to consider when thinking about regenerative braking in electric cars:

  • Electric vehicles come equipped with regenerative brakes.
  • Electric vehicles also come equipped with standard brakes.
  • Some vehicles allow you to choose how much energy you want to save via the braking system.

If you use the regenerative braking system as you drive, you can recharge your battery to “top it off.” This is a great way to get the most out of the battery in your electric car.

How Regenerative Braking Helps Conserve Energy

Regenerative braking helps conserve energy in electric cars by converting the energy created when braking into energy that can be transferred to the battery of the car, thereby charging it.

So, each time you brake during a trip, you are sending energy back to the battery. But how does this work?

  • The electricity from the battery powers the wheels of the car.
  • When you brake, the car de-accelerates.
  • When a car de-accelerates, the electricity is cut off to the wheels and runs in reverse.
  • Kinetic energy is created during this process.
  • In regular brakes, the kinetic energy is lost.
  • The regenerative brakes capture the kinetic energy and convert it to electricity.
  • The electricity is then transferred to the battery and stored there until it is needed.

There is also something called “one-pedal driving.” One-pedal driving is, essentially, when the driver chooses how much regenerative energy to use based on how they move the gear-shift lever. Moreover, they can choose a more aggressive regenerative braking, which will store much more energy than normal. This type of driving, however, does take time to master.

Properly Charge the Battery

As with the tires, it is important to properly charge the battery of your electric car. While this may sound straightforward, several factors go into it. You must understand how your battery works so that you can properly charge it. It is not enough to just plug it in and forget about it.

It is important to know that electric car batteries will not allow you to fully charge them, nor will they ever go completely empty. Despite this, you can still find yourself stranded with a “dead” battery if you do not charge properly.

There are three key components for properly charging (and maintaining) your battery.

  • Choosing the right time to charge your electric car’s battery.
  • Knowing how long a charge lasts.
  • Know what affects the battery’s performance.

The battery in an electric car is probably its most important feature. Since an electric car does not have an engine, the battery is its heart. Therefore, it is important to maintain it so that you can drive your electric vehicle efficiently.

Choose the Right Time

You must choose the right time to charge your electric car. For example, if your battery is completely empty, then you will need a lot of time to recharge it. For a battery that is running on “E,” it could take almost two full days to charge it.

Conversely, if you are recharging a battery that still has a fair amount of energy left, it will not take nearly as long. You want to make sure you choose a time well before you need to travel. This will mitigate any misjudgments in time. The key is to give yourself enough time in case it takes longer than you expect to charge.

Moreover, it is important to know the types of charging ports you may come across and how they affect your range on your vehicle. Consider the following three.

  • Charging with 110v. When you charge with a 110v charging port, it will take upward of eight hours to charge the battery for a regular charge.
  • Charging with 240v. When you charge with a 240v charging port, you can add roughly 25 miles for each hour you charge. This is important, especially if you already know how many miles you need to travel and how much energy you need to supply to the battery.
  • Charging with a “Fast” port. The fast charging ports are popular because they can charge a battery in well under an hour, sometimes as quickly as 30 minutes.

You may choose to charge your car overnight, which can be a good option if you need to travel first thing in the morning. As mentioned before, if you need to heat or cool your car, when it is plugged in is the best time to do it.

Know How Long a Charge Lasts

Charging your battery is about planning ahead. You need to know the range of your electric car before you begin driving.

For example, if your car’s range is 250 miles, and your battery is not fully charged, you know you will never get near 250 miles. Now, this is not that big of an issue if you are only driving around town. A full charge could last you days when you are only driving short distances.

However, if you plan on going on a road trip, you need to know precisely how much your battery is charged and how long it will last based on your range. To drive efficiently is to charge your battery smartly. When you charge your battery properly with advanced thought, you will not run into issues later when you are away from home.

What Affects the Battery’s Performance?

Many factors can diminish the performance of the battery. If you want to dry efficiently in your electric car, you need to monitor these factors to ensure your battery is operating at its best level.

Some of the issues that can affect the battery’s performance include:

  • Very high temperatures
  • Leaving the battery fully charged for too long.
  • Multiple discharges of the battery.

When it comes to high temperatures, it is best to keep your electric vehicle out of the sun as much as you can. If you have a garage, you should store your vehicle there. The hot sun can negatively impact the battery. In the summer, try to find shady areas to park if you must park outside.

Minimize Additional Weight

If you want to drive efficiently, you need to monitor the extra weight you are storing in the vehicle. Unnecessary weight can cause the car’s range to decrease, which will cause the car to not be efficient the way it could be.

When you are driving, you should only bring with you what you need. Consider some of the following things that can add weight to your car.

  • Added weight to the trunk. You need to transport groceries, merchandise, bags, and other things. The trunk is probably your go-to place to put them, but sometimes you leave them there and forget about them. Make sure to always empty your trunk. You do not want that added weight just sitting there.
  • Too many passengers. You should never travel with too many people in the car. The more people that are in the car, the less efficient the car will perform.
  • Too much luggage. When you are traveling, you will bring luggage with you. However, make sure you do not overload your car. Too many pieces of luggage, or overly heavy luggage, can add unnecessary weight that can diminish the efficiency of the car’s performance.

If you maintain a light weight in your electric car, your car can perform at its best.

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