Mythbusting the world of EVs: can you save time by driving slowly?


Mythbusting the world of EVs: can you save time by driving slowly?

Just because you’re spending less time charging, doesn’t mean you’ll arrive any faster

Paul HorrellPublished: 04 Jul 2023  External link to Top Gear Magazine Subscription – 5 issues for £5Skip 1 photos in the image carousel and continue reading

MYTH: “You can save time by driving slowly”

This came up when strategising for our M25 electric car challenge. Some folk think that by driving slowly to use less energy, they’ll spend less time charging and arrive faster. They’re wrong. Except in a few limited circumstances, anyway.

Drive at 70mph. In three hours, if the motorway’s clear, you’ve done 210 miles. Your cautious friend in an identical car drives at 60, taking 30 minutes longer. Even if you’re unlucky and can find only a 50kW charger rather than an ultra rapid, in half an hour you can take on 25kWh, which is about 80 miles’ worth, just as your friend rolls up to the charge station.

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But your friend would argue their battery is less depleted. True. Thing is, you’d have used perhaps 10-12kWh more energy than them, and as we’ve seen you’ve already made that up, and much more. On an ultra rapid charger you’d be clearer by an even bigger margin.

There are exceptions. If the journey length is at the limit of your likely range it’s probably better to slow down and go for a no-stop strategy. But that’s unlikely. Think of your EV’s practical range, draw that radius on a map and see if any of your frequent destinations lie on the circle. More probable is that a ‘long’ trip will be somewhere beyond your comfortable range. Then it’s best to drive at your happy speed, let the battery get down to below 30 per cent (so it’ll accept charge rapidly) and then do a brief pitstop that’ll carry you to the end.

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