EV Summer Driving: Our Tips and Tricks

The weather is warming up, restrictions are lifting, 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. 

Does temperature impact your EV? Winter vs Summer driving

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. 

Geotab's tool to help understand EV battery behavior towards temperature change

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 done by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, variations in weather can affect the battery range by more than 25%. 

For example, in colder weather the battery has more difficulty accepting and holding its charge. 

So what can you do to maximize range?

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). 

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. 

EV charging

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. 

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.

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. 

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 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. 

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.

Picturesque charge points

Image Credit: Automotive Blog

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!

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 a month and keep it for as long as you like with everything from insurance to maintenance and breakdown cover included. We're currently offering the Renault ZOE ZE50 and MG ZS EV...

The Renault ZOE is an excellent car for summer road trips. It’s 210 mile range is good for longer trips, and the preconditioning feature is definitely a game-changer. You can also connect to the entertainment system through Carplay to make sure your road trip is filled with great music or your favourite podcast. 

The MG ZS EV is also compatible with Carplay and the Exclusive version boasts a beautiful sunroof so you can soak up the sun during your drive. The extra space in the MG is great for luggage and families so you don’t need to worry about under-packing. 

If you have any questions, we're available on email - hello@elmodrive.com - or by phone on 020 3488 4500