What you need to know about using an EV

posted on 26/10/2023

If you’ve recently bought or leased an electric vehicle, you’re sure to have questions around usage. In this article, we’ll take you through the key elements of using an EV, including what you can do to protect performance in a variety of weather conditions, how you can maximise range, as well as the likelihood of experiencing a breakdown.

What impact does weather have?

You may have heard that EVs are more susceptible to the effects of adverse weather conditions – but that’s not quite true. Whether it’s heat, rain or ice, weather conditions – particularly temperature – can have an effect on any vehicle.

While it’s true that cold weather can reduce EV range (by an average of 18% at 3-6 degrees Celsius, according to whatcar), ICE vehicles will also struggle to maintain battery life in hot conditions where the air-con is in use. Thankfully, most EVs will have a battery management system that monitors temperature and charge. So, you don’t need to worry about getting caught out.

As for wind and rain, wet road conditions will increase rolling resistance and high winds will increase air resistance which, as you’d expect, will also use your battery faster. But, in comparison, a traditional petrol or diesel car will typically have less traction than an EV, so you may use the brake more in such conditions – and more fuel as a result.

Overall, while weather does affect EVs, there are only a few small performance differences between EVs and cars with internal combustion engines, making the weather an important consideration in your journey – but no more than it would be in an ICE vehicle.

How can I maximise range?

Once you’re aware of the factors influencing battery life (and therefore range) in an EV, you can take action to mitigate them. As mentioned, using the air-con can contribute to draining the battery on EVs. One way to offset this is by using preconditioning features. You can set your vehicle to warm up or cool down while it’s plugged in, ready for your first journey of the day. This saves energy while driving. Using the heated seat function is also a handy way to stay warm and this uses less energy than the heater, and the same goes for heated steering wheels if your EV has this too. Additionally, an EV’s heating system tends to be instantaneous, unlike traditional internal combustion engines which need time to warm up. As a general rule, try to heat yourself first, then the cabin only if needed.

Range is also heavily influenced by the way the vehicle is driven. Using cruise control and brake regeneration while avoiding harsh acceleration or braking will help boost your EV’s range – and many EV drivers have noticed the huge difference these approaches can make. It’s also important to remove any unnecessary weight, so take what you need and leave what you don’t!



What’s the likelihood of a breakdown? (And what could cause one?)

Unfortunately, like all vehicles, EVs can break down. But the good news is they don’t do so as often as petrol or diesel cars. There are a couple of reasons why.

Firstly, EVs have fewer moving parts, 90% less on average. There’s no traditional clutch, gearbox or engine oil to replace, so this reduces the tendency for different components wearing out.

Secondly, EVs normally come with two 12V batteries. One supplies the vehicle’s motor with power once charged and the other powers the rest of the electric elements, such as lights and the heating system. This helps to maintain critical safety components in the event of an incident.

If an EV runs out of power through lack of charge, it usually just needs to be towed to a charging station to be re-charged.

And yes – that is possible. It’s a common misconception that EVs can’t be towed, but that’s not quite true. In fact, they can be recovered and towed up to half a kilometre or onto a flatbed lorry, and that’s in the worst-case scenario. In reality, there are lots of resources that mean it’s unlikely that a prepared driver would experience running out of charge on-the-go.

Owning an EV does mean having to alter your habits slightly, but by planning a route in advance and checking availability of charge points on the way, it can be a painless switch.

Plus, there are 3x as many places in the UK to purchase EV charge as there are places to buy traditional fuel, with 4,000 ICE vehicles per ICE nozzle, and only 4 EVs per connector.

To make things even easier, we have dedicated advice regarding charging, with everything you need to know. Click here to read more.

It’s also good to remember that many EVs have advanced crash avoidance technology installed, helping to reduce the likelihood of an incident. And in terms of software, problems can often be fixed remotely by the manufacturer. At Alphabet, our 24/7 roadside assistance covers breakdown that occurs outside of your manufacturer’s warranty period, including for EVs. We’ll help get you on the move again as soon as possible.

Now you know the best ways to use an EV, you’re charged and ready to go. For advice on which EV would suit you best, call our friendly team of experts and accelerate your Road to Zero!

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