A Tightwad’s Guide For Ultimate Range When Driving An Electric Car

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Tony – Smart Penny Pincher

Are you tired of paying high electrical bills for your electric car? Then stop paying more than you have to.

I had a job a while back where the commute was really long. At the time I had a short range, inexpensive electric car. The car could barely make the commute. I decided to maximize my range and reduce costs using the following techniques.

See if you can beat my mileage record.

5 Simple Techniques to Extend Driving Range

Follow Big Trucks

Yeah I know we all avoid following big trucks, but if your goal is extreme range, then staring at trucks is the bomb. Big trucks and vans have a large surface area and break the wind for anyone following them.

If you’ve ever ridden with a pack of cyclist, you will realize this immediately. A pack utilizes a specific formation to break the wind for following riders. Everyone takes a turn at the lead and allows the rest of the team to rest. It’s a proven technique to go the fastest and farthest with the least amount of individual effort.

This same technique works well with cars. Your best bet is to let someone else break the wind for you and ride in his or her slipstream. You can actually see the power savings in real time on the dash. Just be sure to follow at a safe distance. There’s no need to ride their bumper and cause an accident.

Turn Off The Environmentals

The AC and the heater consume up to 30% of the available energy in the battery. The last thing a tightwad wants is to toss 30% down the drain.

For 6 months starting in the cold of winter, I shut off the heater most of the time. It was so cold that I had to carry a blanket from home. I bundled up under the blanket and wore a hat and heavy gloves. Every now and then I had to turn on the defrost to keep the windshield clear.

There were a few stares from fellow commuters.

Accelerate Slowly

The only time I accelerate quickly is to avoid a situation, or to get in place on the freeway. The rest of the time I consciously back off of the throttle.

The reason? Wasted energy.

Accelerating quickly takes more energy than doing so slowly. Just try it for a couple of days and you will see. One day show off your constant torque electric motor. On the next day take it easy and compare the overall efficiency.

Avoid Sudden Braking – Then Speeding Up Again

This is an intuitive method of saving energy.

The issue with erratic driving is that you spend energy to speed up, then waste a portion slowing down. Cycled over and over the wasted energy accumulates.

When you decelerate without braking using regen, a portion of the energy is recovered, but not all. Keep in mind that every round trip on a battery wastes even more energy. This is due to the fact that there are inefficiencies in every process, including charging and discharging a battery.

Properly Inflate Tires

It’s a fact that low tire pressure reduces mileage. Don’t make the mistake of being lax on tire pressure maintenance. It only takes a few minutes to inflate all 4 tires to the correct pressure. To know what pressure to use, just look at the sticker in most driver side door panels. The manufacturer will specify the correct pressure.

Also keep in mind that tires are checked based on cold tire pressure. It’s better to check in the morning before you leave than it is to check on the road. Tire pressures increase with temperature and tires warm up with use.


The best mileage I ever got was 5.1 miles/kWh. The commute was 56 miles each way to work and had a couple of steep hills to climb.

When it comes to maximizing range, it’s necessary to use the shotgun approach. What I mean by this is you need to come at this from all angles and do everything, not just one or two.

Every little thing adds up. If you are willing to do everything, you can pay less for energy than anyone else on the road.

Let me know if there is anyone that has exceeded 5.1 miles/kWh for a longer trip.


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