Why are electric cars less efficient for motorway use?

Any car – petrol, diesel or electric – works most efficiently when driven at a steady speed. It’s all about a light touch on the throttle

Continuous application of the accelerator pedal plays havoc with fuel or energy consumption, even on electric cars that regain some power via regeneration when braking.

Yet motorway driving, even at steady speed, can seriously diminish your electric car’s range if you don’t tackle it correctly.

Getting the best from your electric car on the motorway

Audi e-tron

Any journey on UK motorways soon illustrates how the 70mph limit is regarded by many as the minimum speed they should drive.

Anecdotally, though, speeds on motorways seem to be dropping, with more drivers sticking to the limit. One likely reason for this is fuel economy.

It’s largely down to aerodynamics: the faster you drive, the more the wind resistance – or drag – works against you. And drag increases exponentially with speed.

If you drive at a constant 70mph on a motorway, you should, theoretically, get close to the manufacturer’s stated range for the battery.

Drive at 75mph instead, though, and range might drop by between five and 10 percent. At 80mph, it’s around 10 to 15 percent less than at 70mph.

Not surprisingly, there are big efficiency gains from cruising at lower speeds. At a steady 60mph, you’ll see a significant range improvement – and you may be surprised how little difference it makes to your overall journey time.

That said, driving at 60mph in the inside lane of the motorway, dicing with 32-tonne trucks, can be a daunting experience.

Does speed really matter?

As with any car, the way you drive makes a difference to how far you can travel before recharging.

While electric cars outshine conventional vehicles in urban environments with superior efficiency, on motorways it’s more of a level playing field.

So yes, speed really does matter, and if you can keep your head and cruise at 70mph (or less) on the motorway, you’ll get the best range.

Driving at lower speeds could also mean fewer stops for charging on your trip. Truly a case of the tortoise and the hare.

ALSO READ

What is a granny cable?

Can you trust the quoted range of electric cars?

Where can I charge an electric car for free?

Related Articles

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Discover

30 Followers
Follow

Latest

Can I charge an electric car with a domestic plug socket?

While it is possible to charge an electric car using a domestic plug socket, a wallbox is recommended for home use.

What is an electric car?

What exactly is an electric car? Here's a very basic guide to get you started on your journey down electric avenue.

Ribble AL e (2020) review: the world’s lightest electric bike

We've bought a Ribble Al e – a lightweight hybrid electric bicycle that makes cycling easier. How does it stack up for regular riding?

How do I drive an electric car with one pedal?

How can you make driving easier and improve your electric car’s range? We explain one-pedal driving

Who is the average electric car owner?

A survey of 2,000 Brits has revealed what the average electric car owner looks like. The pen portrait is likely to change as the industry develops.