If you’re driving your electric car over the festive period, we’ve got some advice to ensure your journey is full of cheer, and charging.
Driving over Christmas can be a stressful business, with bad weather and busy roads contributing to difficulties for drivers. This year, the roads could be busier still as a result of the rail strikes pushing even more people into their cars over the holidays.
For many drivers, this will also be their first time using their electric car over the festive period too. Travelling to see friends and families, or going to new places for a break over New Year, means driving unfamiliar routes or driving at unusual times.
Here are a few tips for advent adventures in your EV so you can make sure any journey is a winter wonderland, rather than a nightmare before, during or after Christmas.
The cold weather over Christmas is likely to have an impact on the range of your electric car. Batteries lose their charge much more quickly in cold weather, so it’s important to spend some time in the run up to the holidays getting a real life understanding of how far you can really go when it’s cold. Depending on the model, you could lose up to a third of the range you usually get in warmer conditions.
If you can do it, then pre-conditioning is a really important part of the journey. You can use the energy from the charge point to heat up the cabin, defrost windows and warm the batteries, so the car is using less energy initially once out on the road.
Then, if you have them, use the heated seats and steering wheel to keep yourself warm on the move. If the car is fogging up, use the fan set to ‘low’ to maintain a clear view, but if you do need to use the heating, reduce the temperature you usually use by a degree or two and use the ‘eco’ mode.
An alternative is to get dressed up like you’re carolling – scarf, bobble hat and thick jumper – for your drive, but this shouldn’t really be necessary!
Regenerative braking can be a great way to recharge batteries on the go, but often it is more effective in slow speed and urban driving conditions, than on higher speed roads where it can cause you to lose too much momentum.
By adopting smoother driving techniques, not only will you be more efficient on the road, but they will also be safer because avoiding harsh acceleration and braking reduces the risk of losing control or skidding.
Be super light on the accelerator and try to brake earlier, longer and more gently. That means anticipating and looking ahead far more. Momentum is your ally.
In his song of the same name, Chris Rea sang about a trip he took from Abbey Road Studios in London to his home town of Middlesbrough. Written before the advent of electric vehicles, he didn’t need to add a verse about trying to find a charge point during his 250-mile journey north.
Driving that trip now, the combination of colder winter weather and heavy traffic would mean that for all but the longest range cars, most drivers would need a top-up charge at some point. Here are our tips for ensuring a stress-free experience on the way home for Christmas…
One of the skills of EV driving is knowing when to charge, and how much. Say you start your trip with 80% charge (obviously if you’ve got the chance charge to 100% before a long journey, but we know that’s not always possible), which gives you a range of around 180 miles. At some point you need to add a minimum of 70-80 miles of range to get to Middlesbrough (or elsewhere of similar distance) – equivalent to about 35% of total battery charge.
But don’t do it too early, because otherwise you will need to charge the battery into the 80-100% zone, which will take considerably longer. EV batteries from around 80% charge far more slowly than below that number, leaving you sitting for longer on a charger that is creeping up slowly.
So ideally you need to look for a charger with a fast charging speed when you reach around 45-50%.
If you have been using an electric vehicle for some time, there’s a fair chance you will have favourite public charging providers. Before you start, work out roughly where you’ll need to stop and the plan options based on those.
In our London to Middlesbrough example here, we’re looking to stop after around 90 miles, which would be around Stamford/Grantham on the A1 or around Leicester if you take the M1 route.
We have more than 8,600 charge points on the Allstar Network, with many of them rapid and ultra-rapid to get you back on the road more quickly. All of them can be paid for using the Allstar One Electric card, with location searched for via the Zap Map app.
Using the Allstar Network on the A1 in our planned charging area, there’s a number of GRIDSERVE chargepoints at multiple locations, as well as some Alfa Power and GeniePoint chargers off the main road at places which are likely to be slightly quieter.
On the M1, there are lots of GRIDSERVE chargers at both Watford Gap and Leicester Forest services, as well as GeniePoint, Osprey and Connected Kerb locations a short drive from the motorway.
Having a plan for where you want to stop, as well as back-up options should those be busy, makes for a far less stressful experience. There’s nothing worse than to be parked, scrolling through your phone trying to find chargers. With Allstar and Zap Map you can plan your route, and stops, ahead of time.
If you’ve worked out your mileage and your charging requirements, you can minimise the amount of time you need to stop.
Your stop will not need to be long. There are thousands of rapid and ultra-rapid chargers on the Allstar Network, and assuming even just a 50kW speed, adding the requisite 35% (equivalent to around 25KWh of the battery’s capacity) should only take 30 minutes. Plenty of time for a leisurely coffee and mince pie, before finishing off your journey…
Happy Xmas and safe driving!