The range of an electric car is first of all influenced by the capacity of its battery. Measured in kilowatt hours (kWh), it represents the amount of energy available to power the engine and the different onboard equipments. A Renault ZOE’s Z.E. 40 battery delivers a capacity of 41 kWh. That makes it possible for it to travel up to 300 km in real conditions according to the WLTP (Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure), the latest standard for type approval testing of electric cars.
In practice, the range really observed on a day-to-day basis varies depending on different factors. Some, like the outside temperature, are purely contextual: if the range of an electric car is slightly lower in winter, that is because the cold can temporarily affect the battery’s capacity.
Others depend entirely on the decisions of the user and their driving style. By being attentive to this handful of parameters, you can get more control over your electric car’s consumption and therefore extend its range.
The faster the speed, the greater the amount of energy necessary to maintain it. In terms of a ZOE, going from 90 to 80 km/h makes it possible to boost your range by about 30 km.
It’s not a coincidence that communities of ZOE devotees prefer roads to motorways for long trips: driving slower means you are taking full advantage of the range offered by your electric car, without losing the ability to accelerate when needed.
Hills and valleys have a double impact on range. When going uphill, the engine must make an extra effort, resulting in an increase in energy consumption. But the car is able to recharge its battery when going downhill thanks to regenerative braking.
That’s the key to making the most of inclines! Rather than waiting for the next turn in the road to suddenly hit the brakes on the way down, the driver controls the car, slowing it down gradually thanks to the engine brake. In this manner, they convert kinetic energy into electricity, which is then returned to the battery.
Adopting a flexible and efficient way of driving is guaranteed to get you further! A Renault ZOE is capable of accelerating very quickly, especially when equipped with a R110 engine. But doing so causes a spike in electricity consumption. Behind the wheel of an electric car, therefore, the practice of eco-driving is recommended, meaning the art of driving while consuming the least amount of energy possible.
How does it work? The driver attempts to drive as smoothly as possible to get the maximum impact from each watt used by the engine. The secret to success? Thinking ahead. You stop accelerating abruptly, then slamming on the brakes. Conversely, you learn how to release the accelerator very early when a light turns red, so as to glide to a stop without any sudden jolts.
Regenerative braking provides the most convincing demonstration. Rather than waiting for the last possible moment to push on the brake, the eco-conscious driver anticipates their next movement.
On board a ZOE, simply activate the “ECO” mode for the car to switch to parameters adapted to eco-driving, like gentler acceleration. For everything else, learning is merely a formality thanks to the dashboard providing real-time information to the user about the energy efficiency of their driving.
One last point that shouldn’t be neglected: your car’s comfort features. Don’t worry, interior lighting and on-board entertainment only have a marginal impact on range. Air conditioning, on the other hand, has a much more significant energy bill: lowering the heat by one or two degrees makes it possible already to regain a few kilometres of range.
Pre-conditioning of the passenger compartment is another feature offered by the ZOE: this system lets you program your desired onboard temperature before you leave, ideally when your car is still plugged into its charge point. That way, you have both a comfortable interior and a fully charged battery when you set out!
Copyrights: Yannick BROSSARD, PLANIMONTEUR