What to do if your EV runs out of charge


Worried about running out of charge while driving? Here's what to do.

With electric cars set to become more and more popular in the future, it’s easy to get excited about the environmental benefits of EVs becoming the standard. However, this will require many road users to adjust to how long electric vehicles take to charge and how much you can drive on just one charge. You can expect many drivers to be caught out and left stranded without electricity if they’re not used to driving an EV. If you find that happening to you with your new electric car, here’s what you need to do.

How far can an EV go?  

How far your electric car can drive obviously depends on the make and type of vehicle you own. For example, a 40kWh Nissan Leaf can do over 160 miles, while a Tesla Model S P100D can do over 360 miles thanks to its 100kWh battery. No matter which brand you go for, chances are your car will have an indicator on the dashboard which shows you how many miles you have left on your charge.  

What is range anxiety?

One of the new terms that EV users have had to learn, range anxiety refers to the concern that your car will run out of charge before you get to a charging point. This is something that’s common for new EV drivers, as they’re not used to not being able to fill the car up in minutes. While using an EV does take some getting used to, electric cars have a number of safeguards built in to ensure that you don’t run out of battery while on the road.

What happens if your EV runs out of charge while driving?

It’s important to remember that before you begin to run out of power, the car will give you a fair amount of warning. If you’re using a built-in navigation system, you’ll see a warning come up on the screen, which means that you should head to a charging station straight away.  

Much like petrol cars, EVs give you a little leeway when describing how much charge you have left. When you get a final warning about your charge, you’ll likely have a few miles to play with, just like you do when the yellow light comes on in a standard car. However, if you think you won’t be able to make it to a charging point in time, it’s best to find a safe place to stop rather than driving the car to the bitter end.

The best thing to do to avoid this situation is keep checking your charge level as you’re driving and topping up your charge in increments rather than waiting until you’re empty and doing a big charge.  

What to tell roadside assistance

When you call your breakdown cover provider, it’s important to let them know you’re driving an EV, as they can find the nearest place to take you to get your car charged. Some breakdown cover providers will send specialised vans that can charge your car on the side of the road, so check to see if yours offers this.

Electric vehicles also sometimes require specialised tools in order to retrieve them, such as a flatbed truck. EVs can be damaged by towing as it affects the traction motors that generate electricity. This, however, varies from car to car, so make sure you’ve read up on what’s suitable for your car.  

How to use less electricity in your car

If you’re finding yourself charging more than you’d like to, there are a few ways you can save electricity when driving. One of the biggest contributors to this is charging devices while you’re driving, as many people do. Doing so can affect how much power your car is using, so only charge your phone if you really need to.

Sticking to the speed limit and avoiding harsh braking are other simple ways you can use less charge when driving, with heating and air conditioning also important things to keep in mind. As electricity is your car’s only source of power, it’s a good idea to rethink your driving habits once you switch to electric. 

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