Even though some of the latest electric vehicles (EVs) can run for more than 200 miles on a single charge, range anxiety remains a common concern among EV owners and is still a potential barrier to businesses who could be looking to switch their fleet from older less fuel-efficient vehicles.
With Government incentives aimed at increasing the number of private individuals purchasing EV’s and businesses increasing the inclusion of EVs within their fleets, range anxiety” is currently still putting some off making the switch to EV.
Although the upfront cost of an EV is often higher, EVs can be cheaper to run due to the lower cost of electricity compared to their petrol or diesel counterparts and recharging at home overnight or at work will normally result in the greatest savings. But the thought of being potentially ‘stranded’ at the side of the road coupled with a lack in confidence that there are enough available and compatible public charging stations, can have a negative effect on the uptake of EV’s for both businesses and individuals.
What is range anxiety?
Range anxiety is the fear that a vehicle has insufficient battery range to reach its destination. Stranding the driver, causing additional costs and increased vehicle downtime. This term is primarily concerned with battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and has been attributed to the slow adoption rates of EV’s for both private individuals and businesses.
Vehicle range is the distance and EV can travel from a full charge. All EV’s currently available will have undertaken a Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test (WLTP) which is used to measure fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. This in turn informs range estimates provided for all new vehicles.
There is a combination of factors that can affect the vehicle’s performance and range, these include:
- Acceleration: the heavier the acceleration and the faster the vehicle goes the sooner the battery will deplete.
- Inside the car: ancillary power use such as air-conditioning or heating can negatively affect a battery’s range.
- Temperature: batteries can perform better when warm, so if its cold outside there will be less usable energy being produced.
- Topography: driving up inclines or ‘hilly’ journeys tend to use more battery power than driving on a flat road
- Weight:the heavier the vehicle the more energy it uses to move.
- Driving style:if you accelerate slowly and allow the car to decelerate using the regenerative braking you can increase the range significantly compared to braking hard.
Short journeys vs long journeys
EV’s are no doubt ideal for use in towns and cities and for short journeys there is often plenty of charging options. Their limited range and the need to plug in to recharge however, means that they may not be suitable for everyone.
While recharging won’t cost a huge amount, it’s could to be a long process with potential stops every 80-100 miles, so it may not be the best option to consider an EV if the vehicle is needed for regular business trips or long journeys. However, if these are few and far between, with considered route planning EV’s can still prove worthy and there is always the alternative option of hybrid vehicles.
As mentioned briefly in our first blog post: Driving electric Part 1 - The key things you need to know there are number of charging options. Including charge points installed at homes, at workplaces, on residential streets, in town and city centres, public car parks, shopping centres and motorway service stations.
Types of charging
There are three main types of charging – rapid, fast and slow. These are concerned with the power outputs and charging speeds. Slow units are most often used overnight, fast chargers charging usually within 3-4 hours (a great option for workplace units) and rapid chargers can take anywhere between 30-80 minutes.
Charging at home
For private individuals or employees using their company cars, the majority of charging will be done at home, most often overnight. If they have a driveway or garage, the cheapest/most convenient way would be installing a dedicated charge point. There are a few grants/schemes out there that can assist with some even covering up to 75% such as The OLEV Electric Vehicle Home charge Scheme and some energy companies offer tariffs specifically for EV drivers.
If your business or a private individual doesn’t have off-street parking, charging an EV near where you are based can be more challenging. However this could soon look to improve through the On-street Residential Charge-point Scheme which gives local authorities access to a £2.5m funding pot (for on-street charge points in areas without off-street parking.)
Charging at work
An increasing number of companies are installing workplace EV charging units for use by employees and visitors. As an employee vehicle will typically be stationary for most of the day when it can be conveniently charged, installing a unit or two and allowing your employees to plug-in makes sense. Companies can also benefit from grants and allowances available for workplace charging units. Businesses and public-sector organisation can apply for funding for charge-points through the Governments Workplace Charging Scheme.
Charging while on the road
Charging while on the road is the one of key concerns feeding range anxiety, however the network of public charge-points is rapidly expanding across UK towns and cities with rapid charge-points becoming much more common at motorway service stations.
Many EV charge points are free to use, the majority of fast and rapid chargers require payment. Charging tariffs tend to comprise a flat connection fee, a cost per charging time (pence per hour) and/or a cost per energy consumed (pence per kWh). Payment methods can vary across networks with some requiring a RFID card and others a Smartphone app and most require an account to be set up before use.
There are a number of websites offering information, pay-as-you-go options and maps of the nearest charge-points including:
Getting the most out of your charge - Driving efficiently
Driving efficiently not only reduces emissions but can save money on fuel and improves road safety. From a fleet perspective effective fuel management and driver training can help reduce fleet fuel costs and assist with duty of care requirements for drivers.
You can maximise the range of your EV by:
- Planning the journeys taken and where there may be access to the public charging network
- Anticipating the road ahead to avoid harsh acceleration and braking
- Considering how and when to use the heating and air conditioning, i.e. pre-heating the car while plugged-in to avoid consuming energy from the battery at the beginning of the journey
- Understanding and using the vehicle’s eco-mode or features.
Tacking range anxiety
There are a few ways to make the most of an EV’s range and in some cases gain a few miles back when it’s really needed:
- Drive smoothly and don’t drain the EV’s battery by driving at an accelerated rate.
- Slow down and try to keep speed under 60 mph whenever possible.
- The heater and the AC do not need to be running all the time. Think about pre-heating/pre-cooling your car before a journey while it’s plugged in.
- Regularly check the tyres, under-inflated tires will increase energy consumption.
- Plan a more-efficient route by choosing one that allows you to drive steadily at lower speeds and avoid areas known for heavy traffic.
- Plan charging and ensure that the battery pack is at full strength before travelling.
All of the above also applies to fleet vehicles and fleet drivers. However, from a fleet perspective there are additional things worth thinking about when trying to reduce and improve issues connected range anxiety.
- Workplace charging units where employees can charge their vehicles whilst in the office and/or the fleet can be charged during employee change-overs and overnight.
- Fuel management including data capture on fuel use, targets and incentives for drivers and driver training on efficient driving with EV’s and hybrids.
- Use of petrol hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV’s) within the fleet for those employees who are on the road regularly travelling long distances.
- Incentives for employees to encourage them into low emission vehicles.
- Daily or long-term rental hire options for those few occasions when a long journey is needed.