Formula E driver Alexander Sims gives his tips on getting the most range
We speak with BMW i Andretti Motorsport Formula E racing driver Alexander Sims for his tips on getting the most range out of an EV, deduced from his on-track and off-track experience of driving electric cars.
Today’s EVs can go further than ever before on a single charge, yet range anxiety is still a hurdle for EVs to conquer when it comes to public perception, especially as the UK’s charging infrastructure still needs work in places.
Alexander has been driving EVs since 2012, using his BMW i3 for everything from short daily journeys to longer road trips, such as driving to the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium. He also competes in a race series, Formula E, where the energy available is strictly controlled and purposefully not enough to complete the race driving flat out, so energy management and efficiency are really important to ensure the car completes the race in the quickest time possible.
Luckily, out on the open road for the EV motorist there are plenty of opportunities to charge and small ways that drivers can boost their range by altering driving style or checking general car maintenance, here are Alexander’s tips.
Anticipate your next move
As in a race situation, it’s key to always be looking ahead and anticipating any changes in speed. By doing this and reacting early, it can be possible to come off the accelerator and slow down by coasting and using the regenerative braking rather than using the mechanical brakes. Doing this on approaches to roundabouts and traffic lights can make a surprising difference to overall range.
Slow and steady wins the… range
It wouldn’t win you a Formula E race, but slowing down by 5mph can make a significant difference to range, whilst ultimately making little difference to your arrival time. This, along with smooth driving is the surest way to eke out a few more miles from a charge.
Tyre maintenance is really important in any car but particularly an EV. Underinflated tyres increase a vehicle’s rolling resistance, so more energy is needed to propel the car forwards. Check tyre pressures regularly, ensure they’re properly inflated (according to the manufacturer’s guidelines) and have wheel alignment checked too, as that can also cause increased drag.
Take the hot seat
If the car has them, use the seat heaters rather than the cabin heater in colder weather, as you’ll feel warm without using all the energy needed to heat the entirety of the car. Using air conditioning in the summer has far less of an impact on range than heating does in the winter, however it does still consume energy. I would advise just cooling the car to a comfortable temperature and not driving with the windows down. One huge benefit of an EV though is that you can pre-condition the car from your phone before your journey. When plugged in it uses energy from the grid and so does not impact the car’s range. This is a must in particularly hot or cold weather to have the maximum driving distance!
Plan your route
Sometimes the quickest route isn’t the most energy efficient. GPS systems will often prioritise motorways but many have an ‘ECO’ option that will prioritise a shorter distance over arrival time. Failing this, I would refer to my point about speed and suggest just going a bit slower on motorways if you need to extend your range by a few extra miles. There are more and more route planning apps now available, with many incorporating EV charging points and details such as elevation changes that will affect the performance and range of an EV.
Range anxiety will soon become a thing of the past; the latest EVs have excellent range and with battery technology continuing to improve, the next wave will be able to travel even further. By this point, hopefully the UK’s charging infrastructure will also have made further improvements with more rapid chargers becoming available and charging time reducing, so as little as ten minutes can get you another 100 miles or more.