EV Summer Driving: Our Tips and Tricks

It’s summer, the warm weather is here and perhaps you’re thinking about planning your next road trip. To make sure you don’t get stuck in the middle of the road, or the middle of nowhere, we’ve created a guide for warm-weather road trips and what to be mindful of with an EV.

We’ll cover how warm weather can have an impact, the differences between winter and summer driving, and some tips to make sure you’re all set for the trips ahead.


Winter vs summer driving: Does temperature impact your EV?

Yes! The weather has a significant impact on EVs – it actually impacts petrol/diesel cars too, but people often overlook this!

The impact is most noticeable on the range. EVs are usually advertised with a WLTP (Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicles Procedure test)- Range.

WLTP is a series of tests that an EV goes through before being commercially available. The simulations are done in a laboratory, where various driving conditions (from weather-dependent simulations to terrain-dependent simulations) are tested.

But WLTP is only useful to a point and its accuracy is affected by many factors, including temperature…

Geotab examined 4,200 EVs across 5.2 million trips and were able to determine that the optimal operating temperature for an electric car is 21.5 C. Anything warmer or colder than this, and the top-end of the range will decrease.

If you are interested in how temperature impacts an EV use the following Temperature Tool by Geotab. Also see our electric car winter guide for further information.

Real-world range vs rated range
Image Credit: Geotab

So why the big difference?


Well, for one, during the summer months we use aircon and during the winter months, we use the heating. Both of these sap the energy in the battery.

But the battery itself is also to blame. According to research carried out by AAA, temperature alone could reduce range by 10-12%, with use of in-car climate control increasing that loss to 40%. 

For example, in colder weather the battery has more difficulty accepting and holding its charge, and more energy is used to keep the car warm. For their latest 2022 study, Recurrent went out and collected real-world data from over 7,000 vehicles and gathered information about how these cars perform in cold weather and winter driving conditions. The study included popular electric vehicle models like Tesla, Nissan LEAF, Ford Mustang Mach-E, and Volkswagen ID.4. Recurrent then compared the range of these cars when the temperature is a comfortable 70°F (21°C) versus when it’s freezing cold. This gives us a clear picture of how much the range is affected by the cold weather: 

So what can you do to maximize range?

EV driving tips

There are plenty of ways to maximize your range while driving. Top of the list using the ‘eco-modes’ available in the cars. In the Renault ZOE it’s called Mode B, and in the MG ZS EV it’s simply called Eco-mode. This setting will attempt to maximise the running efficiency of the car by reducing the power you are able to give it.

Linked to this is the use of the accelerator and brakes. Like petrol and diesel cars, the more aggressively you accelerate and brake the more energy is required, reducing the overall range of the car. By driving mindfully, you will be able to extend your mileage.

This is especially useful with electric cars as many have regenerative braking. This feature stores energy from firm but gradual braking but not from aggressive use.

Image Credit: Automotive Blog

Tips and Tricks to Maximize EV Range in the Summer

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to make sure you are getting the most out of your car’s battery (without having to suffer in the heat with no aircon).

Electric car plugged in charging

1. Keep your EV plugged in 🔌


Have you ever left your car unplugged at night, and come back in the morning to find your battery has gone down a few percentage points? Well, you’re not alone! What’s happening is that, although the car is switched off, there are still electrical processes happening. One of these is the cooling of the battery, which can cause the battery to drain.

To make sure you are waking up in the morning to a full battery, it’s best to keep your EV plugged in. Your EV won’t overcharge as it is limited by the battery management system, but what it will do is make sure the electrical processes can run without draining the battery.

2. Avoid rapid chargers (if possible) 🔋


Now, we aren’t suggesting to not use rapid chargers at all. If you’re in a rush or in the middle of a road trip and you want to get to your destination, then by all means use a rapid charger.

This suggestion is for those who have the time to charge at night, or can charge while they are at work. In these cases, use a 7kW charger. Rapid Chargers cause the battery to heat up, which in turn causes the cooling system to kick in, depleting the range in your EV. Read more about EV charging here

3. EV preconditioning 🧊


Preconditioning is a nifty little feature that some EVs have now (like our Renault ZOE ZE50). Preconditioning allows you to cool or heat the cabin of your EV remotely.

Now this may seem like just a plush extra, but preconditioning can also maximize your battery range. Preconditioning, when you’re plugged in, won’t drain the battery and it will make sure your battery is cooled or heated to the optimum temperature before you set off.

Another benefit in the summer is that preconditioning your cabin will help maximize your range, as you won’t have to blast the aircon on full once you get in the car and start driving.

4. Choose your parking spots carefully 🅿️


This top tip is a simple one. Park in the shade! As we’ve covered earlier, your battery doesn’t like overheating, and the cooling processes in the car sap the energy. By parking in the shade, you can mitigate the amount of energy lost.

5. Avoid excessive loads 🛶


If you’re going cycling, skiing, kayaking.. it’s normal that you’ll need to bring the necessary equipment. However, it’s worth keeping in mind that the more gear and the heavier the load, the less efficient your car battery will be so keep heavier items to a minimum wherever possible. 

6. Choose cooler hours of the day 🕑


This is another simple but effective tip; a little bit of extra planning to make sure you can drive the majority of your journey during the cooler parts of the day is enough to reduce the energy your EV uses. The hours between midday and 3pm are usually the hottest, so try to avoid these if you can! 

Extreme temperatures can use more of your electric car’s battery power, especially in hot weather which can cause the unit to overheat and use more energy than usual. By driving the longer parts of your journey in cooler temperatures, you’ll be making the most of your EV’s range. 

7. Be heat-smart 💡


Various in-car functions like air con can use up power, and there are ways to make this use of energy efficient as possible. If it’s really warm inside your car, rolling down the windows and driving at a reasonable speed will help to reduce temperature initially. Windows should then be closed as soon as you turn on the air con. At a certain speed, AC is more energy efficient than the drag caused by open windows. 

So if your usual climate control is set to 20oC, leave it there and let the ventilation system do the work to get your car to that temperature. Setting the dial to ‘LO’ won’t get you to the ideal temperature any faster. Unless you’re really in need of range, we also recommend you switch out of ECO mode so the air con system can operate at full power. 

8. Check out the in-car gadgets 🎮


Lots of EVs have some great little gadgets to help you get through the summer – even if you’re not driving!

For example, Teslas have a ‘Dog Mode’ which allows you to keep the air con running while you’re away from the car. The Tesla’s central display screen will also show a message to reassure any passers-by that your pet is ok! 

Video Source: Car And Driver

Teslas also have a ‘Camp Mode’ which allows you to run some of the systems overnight if you are sleeping in the car. One that you might want to avoid in hot weather (although untested), is Tesla’s ‘Eject passenger seat’ voice command… which turns the unlucky passenger’s seat heater to max temperature!

Other brands, such as Hyundai, Kia and MG also have ‘Vehicle To Load’ systems which let you run mains electrical appliances from the car’s main battery.

For extra safety, the Fiat 500e has a ‘take a break’ warning that pops up on the dashboard when it senses that you’re tired. This is something to watch out for, particularly in the heat. As it’s likely to make you feel drowsier, taking extra breaks for drinks, food, naps can be a good idea that’s often overlooked. 

Take a break warning Fiat 500e

Plan your EV summer road trip

Now that we’ve covered the top tips and tricks to maximize your EV range, it’s time to get ready and prepare for the summer road trip. With an EV there is certainly less to worry about than with an ICE (i.e. no oil levels to check, for example).

However, we think it’s still good to have a basic checklist to make sure you are as prepared as possible:

  • Check your tyre pressure (an optimal tyre pressure will even help with your range)
  • Make sure you have your cables
  • Check which chargers your car is compatible with (Type 1, Type 2, CCS)
  • Get your road trip playlist ready
  • Plan your route in advance

That last point is so important, it needs its own paragraph. Of course, both the ZOE and MG have GPS built into their infotainment system, but when it comes to EVs it’s best to plan a route with charge points along the way. Although charging infrastructure is growing at a very promising pace, it is still a bit of a hurdle, especially when it comes to long road trips in an EV.

Luckily, there are plenty of free resources available to help you plan your route. Zap-Map and A Better Route Planner are two apps, which allow users to plan an EV journey based on the chargers available during the route and the range of the car used. An excellent way to help get rid of that range anxiety!

Zap-Map Route Planner
Image Source: Zap-Map Route Planner

Try an EV for your summer road trip

Are you interested in trying out an electric car for the summer? At elmo you can book one for as little as 60 days and keep it for as long as you like with everything from insurance to maintenance and breakdown cover included.

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This post was originally published in July 2021 but has been updated in June 2023 for accuracy and comprehensiveness.