Home on the Range – My EV Story
In the third installment of my life as a new electric vehicle (EV) owner, I want to bring you my personal experience with range.
Not the song “Home on the Range” – how far from home I can get.
When I was considering my leap into the EV world, one of the things people brought up as a concern was the lack of range.
When I drove off the showroom floor with my brand-new Volkswagen ID.4, I was told that my range for 80% charge would be 250 miles.
I did say 80% charge. And that’s another concern: Apparently, charging the vehicle to 100% capacity should only be done in a pinch.
So, for now, we go with 80% and 250 miles. This seemed reasonable to me, as most of my driving is local.
Sure, that won’t get me to Orlando and back without stopping. At least there are charging stations along that route.
Fast-forward to today, and after driving the vehicle for almost a year, I’ll say, yes, 250 miles is possible.
Is 250 likely? Well, that’s a no. What I’m getting out of the ID.4 on a regular basis is approximately 225 miles.
You may say, “Big deal. It’s only 25 miles.”
But when you consider the anxiety factor of getting stranded, it is a big deal.
I discussed this issue with the dealership, and I got the answer I expected: “Actual results may vary.”
I’m pretty sure they assume I have awful driving habits, a lead foot, I’m cranking the air conditioner on full penguin mode, and drag racing starts at the stop sign.
But I’m more like a grandma driving to church. So why is my experience so far off from what Volkswagen claims?
Well, I would gather that it leans way more to the high end of the range possibility when stating the performance.
Is Volkswagen misleading in its claim? Maybe not legally, as I can get 250 miles out of the car.
But that means I would have to take great care in how I operate it.
Maybe never exceed 40 mph, don’t use the air conditioner, and never turn on the radio or headlights.
On one particular trip, I really wished I had that extra 25 miles.
I had to make a quick trip to the city. And when I got in the car, I noticed the remaining range was 80 miles.
I had no time to charge, and my expected round trip was around 60 miles. I figured I would go for it.
Now, keep in mind the route to my destination and back had no chargers (another issue I write about here).
So, either I make it or not.
Well, on the way home I was in full conservation mode: no air conditioning and driving like a snail, with one eye on the range meter and one on the road.
The whole time I was thinking I should already have the answer to, “What does an EV driver do if they actually get stranded?”
I did make it. But I also quickly researched what to do if you get stranded in an EV.
Unfortunately, there’s no good answer.
You can’t hike down the road to a nearby station to fill a can full of electricity.
It really comes down to a call to roadside assistance.
They’ll most likely tow you to a charging station. But many now have portable charging capability.
There are always ample warnings, as well as guidance to the closest charging stations.
If you obey these warnings and directions, the likelihood of getting stranded should be low.
I can’t personally account for the range of other EVs. But if you look at some independent testing, the results can vary.
So if you’re looking to get an EV and range is a big factor, then do the research, and don’t take the dealer’s word.
Additionally, here are a few tips to help maximize the range of your EV for your next trip.
You’ll find many of these recommendations are the same for gas cars, so they’ll already be familiar.
- Know your vehicle – For example, the Volkswagen ID.4 has settings that will enable a higher range. There’s an “Eco” mode, as well as an air conditioning setting that helps extend range.
- Slow down – A lead foot takes energy. The Department of Energy says you’ll use 14% less electricity by reducing your speed by 10 mph.
- Drive smoothly – Fast accelerations and quick stops zap the power.
- Use that fancy cruise control option – Leveling out your highway travel can help more than you think.
- Open the windows – Or just go a little easier on the air conditioner. That’s one of the biggest demands.
- Regenerative braking – This was an EV feature I had to get used to but now love. One-pedal driving has you spending less time on the brakes, which translates to energy conservation.
- Tires – Ensure tires are always at proper inflation levels.
- Travel light and keep it aerodynamic – Any extra weight or added drag such as roof accessories will cost you energy.
For the Good