No doubt you’ve heard the saying “your mileage may vary” and for electrified vehicles, this caveat on efficiency can be especially true.
This view comes straight from the U.S. EPA which says it is normal for hybrids to deviate by more than 30 percent from official window sticker ratings.
Aside from cold weather which may sap the battery and reduce the efficiency, how you drive may also make a difference.
Five Ways To Maximize Efficiency From An Electrified Vehicle
Following are five simple tips to help EVs, PHEVs and hybrids over and above normal sensible driving techniques.
1. Use Economy Mode
If you’re not in a big hurry, and possibly even if you are, you can use economy mode to incrementally improve efficiency.
Automakers may have proprietary names for the mode, but its purpose is to reduce acceleration rate and thus energy usage.
Often a button will activate it, and in cases a hard press of the accelerator to the floor will still give maximum haste upon command, though this may vary from car to car.
Avoiding hard braking lets the regenerative braking system recoup maximum brake energy. Some cars, such as from Ford, have info screens that grade you and coach your driving, and you’d be well advised to become proficient.
Driving should be as proactive as possible, which would include looking ahead and anticipating distance to stops, and braking appropriately and smoothly.
Braking abruptly can on the other hand engage the conventional friction brakes, and regen energy to the battery will be less.
Regular hybrids can only do a few things to charge the battery including capturing regen energy under braking or decel energy using “B” mode, so this mainly applies to plug-in cars – typically the PHEV variety.
(Obviously EVs must stay charged or they go nowhere, so we don’t need to remind you to keep the battery charged.)
Plug-in hybrids however can lean on the gas or electric side of their dual powertrains, so these are the ones that you will want to keep charged.
The idea with plug-in hybrids is to allow them to serve as effective EVs as often as possible. Whenever possible to recharge, particularly intraday, take advantage of it!
Anyone with workplace charging or an EVSE en route in their normal daily routine can potentially extend the EV range. A PHEV with only 19 miles range, for example, can all of a sudden be good for double that or more if left parked and charging in your daily routine.
And for folks only contemplating one of these vehicles, take note. Intraday charging can be a beautiful thing.
Use Accessories Judiciously
There is no free lunch, and no free energy. Every accessory used including A/C, heater, entertainment systems, heated seats, etc., all affect efficiency.
Anyone who watched the movie “Apollo 13” knows this fact of life. Your energy budget may not be life-threateningly finite, but if your goal is to save energy, learn the limits, and try and stay within them.
Read Your Owner’s Manual
Are you the type of person who does not like to follow instructions or do you like to read the book in advance?
Operator manuals can look like a lot of reading, but since the carmaker is the one which engineered the vehicle, it may have included a trick or two to optimize driving efficiency.
Scanning the owner’s manual for tips may be worth your while, and is recommended.