For decades, car owners have often fretted about extracting the best possible mileage from their vehicles. How far can a car go on a litre of fuel? What's the best way to increase the distance on a litre of petrol or diesel? How to last the maximum distance possible before curving into a fuel station? While technological advancements have ensures that new-age vehicles mostly offer superior mileage than vehicles of yesteryears, what about electric vehicles that run on battery power?
Range of an EV has now become the most prominent topic of discussion and point of concern in the field of personal mobility. With charging infrastructure still some distance away from being ideal the world over, range has taken over from mileage as a focal point for both customers as well as car makers.
(Also read: Delhi government suspends subsidy on Tata Nexon EV. Here's why)
As with mileage, car makers are also either claiming a particular range figure or even getting these certified. But as with mileage again, these may well be for reference purposes and in ideal test conditions. As such, there are several factors that could affect an EV's range in the real world as it seeks to go the distance without repeatedly hunting for a charging station.
Here are five of several factors that influence the range of an EV:
Battery: The single biggest factor that determines the range of an EV is the capacity of the lithium-ion battery at its core. This refers to the amount of electricity that can be stored and how densely the battery cells are stored. More densely packed the battery cells are, the better the drive range is likely to be.
Of course, development of battery tech is consistently improving drive range of EVs even though wear on battery in the long run may have a detrimental impact on range.
Road topography and conditions: Going uphill for 20 kilometres, for instance, and going downhill for the same distance has vastly different impact on the drive range of an EV. Going up would need more energy while constant braking while moving down will send energy back. As such, the battery will deplete slower when moving down a hill.
Much like in conventional cars, the condition of a road surface too has some impact on the range of an EV.
Drive style: Similar to how a mileage gets affected in a conventional car running on petrol or diesel, an EV's range is also determined by how a driver steers it. Sudden or frequent acceleration, apart from the weight of the EV, has an impact on its per-charge range figure.
Air-conditioning: Mileage of a conventional car goes down when the AC is on inside the cabin. Similarly, the range of an EV is also affected with air-conditioning. This is true for both cooling and heating. In countries with cold weather, many advise switching on seat-warm feature if available rather than using the heating mode.
Tyre condition: While an EV requires a lot less in terms of servicing needs, there is a need to keep a close watch on the tyres. Old and worn-out tyres will affect performance of a car, whether it is running on fuel or battery power.