• Green Cabs

How Far Is Too Far?

Originally published on 24 Aug 2017.

How do I test the real range of my EV?

If you are wanting to travel long distance, you need to be confident that your vehicle can last the distance between fast chargers. To test the range, you need to run from fully charged to virtually empty. 

Here is how I do it with a 30 kW Leaf:

  • Find a stretch of motorway that runs for about 18km and runs parallel to a 50-kmh road. Drive on the motorway there and back. Repeat. 

  • Then drive in the 50 kph area until you hear a verbal warning, “Low Battery Charge”. On the dashboard, it reads “Battery Level Low”. 

  • Just before the second alarm, the range estimator (GOM) states 13km. The accelerator power becomes noticeably weak between the first and second alarm. In turn, the speed of the car gradually decreases. 

  • On the second alarm, the range estimator shows three dashes (---) and the voice-over says, “Find the nearest charging station”. Stop and reset your trip meter to zero. 

  • Don't stray too far from a fast charger or your home. Circle the block for no more than another 10km and note the total distance travelled. That is your range.

If you are brave/stupid/desperate and keep driving... 

On the third alarm, the car goes into Turtle Mode and the voice-over says, “Limited Power Notice”. When the turtle icon appears, (see picture) you are now in a very dark place – you only have about 1 km left before the vehicle will completely shut down. The car will then go into neutral and nothing will work, - nothing.

Unless you have stopped outside a fast charger (yeah right!), you now only have three choices, - push your car to a charge point, get your vehicle towed, or plug your trickle charger into the place you stopped outside! Your vehicle will need trickle charging (8 amps) for about three hours before it comes back to life.

Important notes: * Only use my notes as a guide – every car is different. * On the instrument panel, there is a display which shows an ESTIMATED distance to empty – commonly called a "guessometer" - the GOM indicates estimated range based on the recent driving style or road conditions that affected energy usage. * Travelling at 100 kph on a motorway will use a lot more power than travelling at 50 kph due to wind resistance etc. * Travelling at both 100 and 50 kph gives a more accurate measure for travelling long distance. Obviously, if you load your car up on holiday, your range will be less. * Using the A/C (air conditioning) burns through 3 kWs an hour – if you want to save power use the heated seats/steering wheel and/or the fan heater. * Always drive in B mode for better regenerative braking. * If you feel the battery power is dropping too fast, switch over to ECO mode and turn any heating off. * Travelling up hills will burn a lot more power than flat roads. * Carry an earth leakage detector, two long extension cords and your charging cable. * Carry some cash in case you need to pay someone for power. * Sunday is the best day for this range test – less traffic, more people at home!

* When you are using fast chargers, they are set by default to charge you to 80%. Factor this into your range calculations. You can set the charger to continue to 100%, but the charge time is a lot longer.