One could argue that the most significant change for drivers switching from petrol and diesel engines to EVs, is that they can no longer pull up at a station for a quick refill in minutes. Some forward planning is required to map your journey, especially the longer ones, and ensure you have sufficient charge. The good news is that technology is advancing, and this is becoming less of a challenge. The more expensive EVs, like the Mercedes EQS can provide a range of around 780 km (485 miles). With charging station infrastructure and EV technology improving, it’s becoming easier to drive an EV even if it has a relatively short range. Here’s what’s changing:
Charging infrastructure is growing
In the UK, the government’s latest official numbers were from Zap-map, stating “as of 1 Jan 2022, there were 28,375 public electric vehicle charging devices available in the UK.” The same source now reports 31,507 devices for April 2022 at 19,707 different locations with over 52,800 connectors, and more being added each month.
The UAE’s EV market is still nascent but growing fast. A report by Afry claimed there were around 650 charging points in the UAE 2 years ago. DEWA, the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority publicizes 530 charging points across 300 charging stations in the 35km2 Emirate of Dubai, a 50% increase in 3 years.
Battery swapping is reducing the time it takes to recharge
NIO, the Chinese EV manufacturer, already has a network of battery swap stations which they plan to bring to Europe in 2022. Depleted EV batteries are brought to a swap station and are replaced with a fully charged one, in 3 minutes. The idea is simple but the mechanics not yet there for other EVs.
Regenerative braking uses driving kinetic energy to charge your battery
Cars are getting smarter. Being in traffic is good for your battery, which is perfect for city dwellers using the EV for school drop offs and daily commutes to the office. There is another significant shift from traditional driving to one-pedal driving. By lifting your foot off the accelerator, the car starts braking for you. Most EVs allow you to customise how much of this braking you want, or to remove this feature completely. However, the more intense, the better for your range! The energy of the act of slowing down is used to boost the battery.
Better control of tyre pressure loss can enhance range
Lower tyre pressure gives more friction with the road, which wastes energy and lowers your range. It’s worthwhile keeping a close eye on your pressure, checking your manufacturer’s recommendations and playing around a little bit. Your frequent trips will be unique so best to find what’s optimal for your vehicle. While conserving this energy means more efficiency for your vehicle, it also saves valuable electricity and the environment.
Many route calculators are available and charging station finder maps are accurate
Service providers are sharing publicly available maps such as CUSP’s charging station finder tool as well as route calculators for you to plan your trips. The community of EV owners also shares updates on charging costs and the operational functioning of these chargers. Relying on a home charger for daily commutes is the easiest way to evade range anxiety, but these maps and route calculators are particularly helpful for longer trips. There’s also the friendly neighborhood charger option where you can rent home chargers from others who have advertised on apps like Zap.
Perhaps the angst about range is what has driven these innovations and technologies. It served its purpose, but is no longer required.