As a fleet management company in the current shifting car market, we’ve dealt with all the concerns that businesses and their drivers have when making the jump from a combustion engine to an electric motor powered by a battery. Which is how we know that one of the largest challenges that companies have with electrifying their fleet is their drivers’ concerns about the mileage range they provide.
Also known as range anxiety, the worries that drivers have over not making it to their destination on their current charge, one charge being enough for their driving needs, not being able to find a charger within their remaining range can put them off selecting an EV for their company car.
We think these concerns are valid and recommend not dismissing them if your staff raises these issues as a deterrent for them. Instead, we advise discussing their concerns and helping them to see that a lot of the worries they have about range are unnecessary, especially with the developing batteries and capacity they have to hold more power which translates into more miles.
Testing EV Ranges and Advertised Mileage
All vehicles sold in the UK are tested under Worldwide harmonized Light-duty vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP) and will give measurements for CO2 emissions, fuel economy, electric range, and much more according to this universal testing.
WLTP is a fairly recent introduction, replacing previous testing standards in 2020, and is designed to provide universal measurements that are comparable between manufacturers and countries. It is also designed to provide more realistic measurements and involves more real-world driving conditions as part of the testing procedures to prevent another issue like the Volkswagen emissions scandal where advertised measurements don’t match real-world conditions.
Driving conditions include rural, urban, and motorway driving scenarios and at various speeds across them. They are also completed in more realistic weather conditions and have a wider range of temperatures than previous testing. As EVs also use more energy when travelling at higher speeds, which reduces their mileage range between charges, they are also tested at more rapid speeds as well.
We think it’s important that you provide your drivers with the information on WLTP range figures but that you advise them to bear in mind that these don’t take into account all of the factors that could impact the mileage they can achieve between charges.
This is something your fleet management should also be aware of as they may receive questions on this from drivers with a new EV or want to advise drivers on these factors prior to selecting a vehicle.
The range that an electric car or van is advertised with is achievable but will require drivers to be careful with their driving style, the vehicle condition, weight, and other factors we’ll explore below. Realistically, we advise you expect to achieve 80 to 90 per cent of any EV’s advertised range without your drivers having to restrict passengers and load or modify their driving habits or road use too extremely.
What Affects the Range of an EV
We mentioned above that many other factors can affect the range of an EV and we wanted to provide a little more information on each of these and how you can assist your drivers with minimising them.
One of the most influential factors on the range of an EV is how it’s driven.
We all know that your driving style can affect your fuel economy and it’s no different in an EV – driving habits can use more or less energy which affects the range that you are able to achieve,
Heavy acceleration and braking require more power than gentler increasing and decreasing of speed and so they use up more energy and reduce the mileage drivers are able to achieve between charges.
Harsh braking also means that the vehicle is not able to engage the technology needed for regenerative braking, where it recaptures energy that is usually lost during braking.
As mentioned earlier travelling at faster speeds also needs more power and so if a driver is constantly on fast moving roads, they might find the range they can achieve is lower than the one advertised.
You might want to highlight the benefits of slower and smoother driving when in an EV to your drivers, or even offer some classes or training to new EV drivers to help ensure they don’t engage in bad EV driving habits.
Road Type and Terrain
The type of road and the landscape around it can also have an impact on the mileage range of an EV.
We’ve already highlighted that faster driving requires more energy, and so you’ll see that drivers who largely travel on fast moving motorways, dual carriageways, and A roads might have a slightly reduced range compared to those who drive at a slower, more consistent speed.
Winding country roads will require more braking and acceleration than a straighter main road and this might also have an impact on the range depending on your drivers’ habits.
Even very slight inclines require more energy to drive on than a flat or downhill road. This means that if your driver is regularly in a hilly area then they are unlikely to achieve the advertised range between charges. Although, this can be mitigated through some regenerative braking on the downhills.
There’s little you can do to change the road and geography of the land around them so there’s little you or your drivers can do to reduce the impact that various landscape features might have on your vehicle but it’s something that you should ensure they’re aware of when looking at the range of an EV.
In warm weather many drivers choose to run the air conditioning to keep the vehicle cool. Just like the heating in colder weather this takes power to do and so can reduce the range. Again if your driver is able to they could pre-cool the vehicle and then run the air conditioning at a lower level when driving to reduce the impact of this.
Alternatively, they might drive with the windows open to let a fresh air breeze through the vehicle. Though this isn’t directly using power it can still impact the range of a vehicle, as it increases drag and so more power is needed to move at the same speed. We know opening the windows isn’t always avoidable, we recommend advising your drivers that if they are driving with them down often they might see an impact on the miles they can cover between charges.
It’s not just when the windows are open that the wind can have an effect on your vehicle. Driving into a strong headwind or on a road with a powerful sidewind requires more energy to travel at the same speed as if there wasn’t a wind.
There’s little that drivers or your business can do about the weather but it’s important to be aware of its impact on the vehicle. Especially as it will make drivers aware that their range in the summer will be slightly more than in the winter.
Using Ancillary Features
Ancillary features are those that aren’t needed for the vehicle to work and include:
- The radio
- Phone services
- Air conditioning / heating
- Heated seats
- Windscreen wipers
Using these features requires energy to power them and so if you are frequently using several then stop, for example at the end of winter when you no longer need the heating, heated seats or lights on the drive home then drivers might spot an increase to their range. The effect will be minimal though, so we do not advise changing how drivers use these features, just that they are aware of the potential impact.
EVs do not have as much wear and tear as they do not have the clutch and transmissions needed in a combustion engine, but one place they do still experience it is on the tyres.
At Wessex Fleet we advise that tyres are regularly checked to ensure they are in a legal, road-worthy condition. This not only keeps you and your passengers safe but increases the efficiency of the vehicle.
The condition of your battery will also have an effect on the range. This is because a degraded battery will not be able to store as much power and so won’t provide as much energy for the car to travel as far.
Over time and repeated charge cycles a battery will gradually degrade, however this is a very slow process and will only be noticeable years down the line. This is something to bear in mind for when a driver has had an EV for a few years and notices that they can’t achieve quite the same mileage between charges.
The technology used in modern EV batteries, and that is continuing to be developed, is designed to reduce the impact of age on battery condition as well.