Think before ruling out the Battery Electric Vehicle

...it may go further than you realise!

Two EV novices at ALD UK took on the challenge of driving 352 miles over two days in a fully electric Hyundai Ioniq at the annual ALD Automotive MPG Marathon. Here’s how they got on…


When an opportunity arises to take part in an event that involves driving 352 miles around the UK over two days in order to put MPG levels to the test, you may think a full Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) would be an odd choice of car to pick.

Firstly, a question that is so obvious it almost feels a little ridiculous to ask, is how do you measure MPG in car that does not use fuel? (No, it’s not a silly question – BEV performance is actually calculated using miles per kWh). Secondly, BEV’s often limited range is widely-accepted to be perfect for short, nippy journeys in the city but even an EV enthusiast might have some initial reservations about driving one over 352 miles across country and motorway.

We can’t deny that both of these thoughts flickered across our minds when we took on the challenge to enter a fully electric Hyundai Ioniq into the ALD Automotive MPG Marathon 2017. But 352 miles and a few rapid charges later, we found that the experience truly opened our eyes to the full potential of this type of vehicle and now there’s no looking back.

 

 

Here’s a few things we learnt:

BEV technology is now better than ever

We started Day 1 with 100% battery and fully expected to have to stop for a rapid charge of 10 – 15 minutes at some point along our route. As we passed beautiful countryside scenery, we managed to get up to 6.8 mi/kWh by cycling through the different driving modes and employing some simple eco-driving techniques, though hilly terrain reduced this to 6.4mi/kWh by the end of day one. Any initial range anxiety we had was quickly relieved and it soon became apparent that we could actually make it to the end of the 168 mile route on the first day with miles to spare without needing to stop for a charge at all. We are the only fully electric vehicle in the event’s history to have achieved this which shows just how far the technology has come.

Some simple pre-journey preparation pays off

As might happen in a ‘real world’ driving situation, we started the second day with 73% battery. To ensure we’d make it to the finish line, we plotted out our route around available public charging points using the Zap Map app before we departed. Our preparation paid off and we were able to make it to our stops and waypoints, topping up with two 20 minute charges and one rapid charge along the way before crossing the finish line with plenty of miles still on the clock.

Driver training may be key to unlocking the potential of BEVs

Simply by employing a handful of eco-driving techniques, we managed to achieve an average of 6.2 mi/kWh over 352 miles in total, beating the manufacturer’s NEDC rating. In comparison, the previous generation Nissan Leaf Acenta achieved 5 mi/kWh in the 2014 event. Our total electricity consumption for the event was 56.77 kWh which is equivalent to 273.44 miles per gallon of petrol.

 

Eco-driving techniques included:

 

Regenerative braking

When the vehicle slows down, kinetic energy is converted and stored in the battery. Utilising this function in the correct way, by anticipating when the vehicle will need to reduce speed ahead of time, is great for topping up the range during a journey.

Negotiating hills

Electric vehicle batteries can top up charge when going downhill and this is where anticipation and reading the road are key. The gradient of the road on the other side of the hill will determine how to tackle the downhill slope. For instance, you might let the vehicle safely pick up speed downhill (within the speed limit) in order to gain momentum and conserve energy to get up a hill on the other side. If the road is flat after the downhill slope then letting the vehicle charge as you go downhill will be more advantageous.

Pre-journey prep

Some simple preparation will go a long way; plotting the route to negotiate hills and ensuring the car is rid of any unnecessary load is likely to extend the range that little bit further.

Battery Electric Vehicles are not just city-run arounds

While everyone knows that BEVs are perfect as city-run arounds adept for short journeys, what we achieved at the MPG Marathon demonstrates that with a little preparation these vehicles can actually go much further than you might think. By making some simple changes to driving style, drivers can actually make a big difference to the performance and range of their EV. This opens them up as a viable choice of vehicle to many more fleets who may have previously discounted them for longer journeys.

Fleets considering ‘going electric’ will benefit from training up their drivers with the necessary eco-driving skills to ensure they’re getting the most out of their vehicles, from both a practical and economic perspective. Utilising telematics systems to reveal instances of heavy braking and harsh acceleration could also enable fleets to deliver more targeted training to their drivers on an ongoing basis, in turn ensuring their drivers get the maximum performance from their EV.

 

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