EV Driving

Having done a long drive into France not that long ago using an EV (a 2020 Polestar 2), I encountered some stuff that I thought was worth writing down.


Let's get some of the obvious stuff out of the way first. Yes, doing long trips in an EV requires a little bit of upfront planning so you wont run out of spark along the way. EVs also don't have the same range as a petrol or diesel car, so you'll need to stop more often.

With that out of the way, let's have a look at some things that I see other drivers do suboptimally.

Optimising your charging stops

Most EVs have some sort of built-in navigation system that will help you plan out your routes. This system will not only help you find out where you can charge, but it also comes with a hidden, very important feature, if you set a high speed charger as a destination, the onboard computer will start warming up the battery before you arrive at the charger!

Why is this important? A cold battery cannot be charged as quickly as a warm one! Just rolling up without preconditioning the battery will result in a lower charging speed than you would have gotten with a preheated battery.

So here is tip number one: Find out if your EV has this feature and start using it.

Charging speed

There is another property of your car's battery that you should be aware of. Charging speed is not constant, as the battery fills up, the charging speed will drop. This effect is known as the charging curve.

This is a physical limitation of (current) battery technology. Just like temperature, how full the battery is, also affects the charging speed. If the battery is almost empty, you can charge it much faster than when it is almost full.

You don't need to become an electrical engineer to figure out the actual charging curve for your specific car, but it's something to be aware of. At a certain point, the charging speed will drop off so far that it's probably not worth waiting any longer for more charge.

Tip number two: Only stop to charge (on long trips at least) when your battery is almost empty, let's say, below 20%. This will make sure that (when preconditioned!) you will most likely hit the maximum speed your car can handle at any high speed charger.

Charging etiquette

Equipped with the knowledge that more charge in the battery means slower charging speed you will realize that keeping a high speed charger occupied to charge to 100% is really inefficient. Not only for yourself, you'll be waiting a long time for those last 20%, but you are also keeping other drivers from using the charger.

At those last 20-or-so %, the charging speed will be so low that you can better spend that time driving to the next charger in your trip, even if that results in stopping an extra time over the course of the entire trip.

Third tip: Don't use high speed chargers to charge to 100%. Charge to a whatever you need to get to the next charger and continue your trip. If you do need the full battery there's usually some slower chargers at the charger site, switch to those to charge those last few percent and free up the high speed charger for other drivers.

Optimizing your route

Onboard navigation can be pretty good (depending on what the manufacturer decided to provide) but if you want to plan out a route and see an optimized plan, you can use A Better Route Planner. There you can select your type of vehicle, set a start and end point and get a route with estimated charging times and locations.

In summary

All this general advice depends a little bit on the type of car you drive, but in general they should apply to most EVs. You can of course use your car in any way you like, but I see people not getting the most out of the high speed charger quite often (which is why I wrote this post).

I do sometimes have a little chat with other drivers while waiting for charging to complete and I'm always surprised how many people don't know about these few simple things that can greatly improve the EV experience on long trips.

So in short:

  • If you can, precondition your battery before arriving at a high speed charger.
  • Don't charge to 100% at a high speed charger, it's a waste of time.
  • Use your built-in route planner or A Better Route Planner to plan out your trip and charging stops

You can't treat your charging stops like refueling a gasoline or diesel powered car but with a little bit of knowledge and planning you can make your trip a lot more enjoyable and quicker.

Let's hope that technology can improve to the point that charging is as fast as refueling, but until then, let's make the most of what we have now.

Happy driving!

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Tagged ev, driving, misc