The advantages of electric vehicles (EVs) include outstanding acceleration, reduced operating costs, and significantly lower emissions.
There are also a few disadvantages, including limited range, which can be affected by speed.
It is true that electric cars are efficient, but their electric motors consume more energy at high speeds. On this page, you will find some of the reasons why EVs use more energy at high speed.
Table of Contents
Why Does Electric Car Range Decrease With Speed?
The speed of an electric car is dependent on the mechanism inside.
Ev’s speed is influenced by the motor RPM (revolution per minute) and for that, a bigger magnetic field across the armature is needed to produce more RPM, and bigger magnetic fields demand current-hungry coils.
The conclusion is that the batteries supply more power to run all of these functions at high speed, utilizing more energy, which affects the range.
Also, high speed will result in a reduction in battery life.
Due to internal resistance and other causes, consuming more power will also heat up the battery. As a result, the battery life will be severely compromised. Higher speeds will cause greater friction between moving parts, which will result in more environmental heat.
The batteries are harmed by this heat as well.
Consequently, acceleration will have a negative impact on the battery.
Driving frequently at high speed will affect the range of an electric vehicle. The battery will run out faster by pressing the accelerator harder.
Smooth acceleration saves battery life
Contrarily, smoother acceleration and slower speeds enable the car to save energy.
Green car reports performed a test by driving a Tesla Model S at a high speed in 2014. The Tesla Model S 2013 offers a maximum range of 208 to 265 miles, depending on the model.
Its range is also constrained by the size of its battery pack.
With an 80% recharge achievable in 20 minutes, Tesla’s rapidly expanding network of fast-charging points makes any number of longer-distance trips feasible.
A Model S electric car was driven hundreds of miles at high speed from Barstow, California, to the fast charging point in Kingman, Arizona. The electric car eventually ran out of power a short distance away from the destination.
Preserving battery life is one of the reasons many electric cars are top-speed limited.
The distance between the two locations is 209 miles. Tesla indicated that the car has only 247 miles of range left, a 38-mile cushion.
The speed was reduced to 63 miles per hour after realizing there were only 20 miles of capacity left. However, the electric vehicle fell short by 3 miles.
It was concluded that the battery would discharge more quickly at higher speeds and at a higher altitude.
This is also why some electric cars have lower top speed.
How Does Speed Affect An Electric Car’s Driving Range?
The lithium-ion battery’s capability, or the quantity of electricity it can store, determines an electric car’s range in the first place.
It is similar to the size of the gas tank in gasoline-powered automobiles when measured in kWh (kilowatt hours), and it supplies energy to the motor and other components of the automobile.
An electric vehicle’s range is comparable to how much fuel an automobile with an internal combustion engine consumes.
There are several variables that affect it, but speed is one of the most critical ones.
In contrast to internal combustion engine cars, which always have higher highway efficiency than city efficiency, electric cars have higher city ranges than highway ranges because electric cars have the capacity to regenerate energy by applying the brakes.
As the electric vehicle slows down, it starts using an electric motor that functions as a generator, known as a regenerative braking system.
The battery is charged throughout this procedure, ultimately extending the range of the electric car.
This great function in electric cars assists users in recovering the range cost. Regenerative brakes enable us to preserve energy and recover some of the range that has been lost while traveling in stop-and-go traffic.
Since most electric vehicles do not have various gear options, the stress placed on the electric motors at high speeds leads to attrition and a decrease in efficiency.
Do Electric Or Gas Cars Lose More Range At High Speed?
Although electric cars have the potential to be quicker than gasoline-powered vehicles, they currently lack the ability to be faster. From zero to 60 is the best example to understand this. Electric cars achieve a faster 0 to 60 than gasoline. But when those high speeds are maintained for extended periods of time, gasoline vehicles do much better.
An excellent explanation was given by Dustin Grace, who has worked as an engineer at Tesla for nine years:
Torque is the main thing that propels the car forward. Electric vehicles produce significantly more torque than gasoline-powered automobiles.
In addition, many contemporary designs completely eliminate the traditional transmission in favor of an electric vehicle’s motor.
EVs accelerate more quickly off the line because the power is sent directly to the tires for immediate acceleration. But Evs cannot maintain its range at high speed because of high energy usage and the absence of a transmission box.
Gasoline cars and range (at high speed)
In a gasoline-powered automobile, the engine first provides power to the transmission before it can reach the tires, which is called the powertrain or drivetrain.
The time taken by the energy to reach the drivetrain affects the zero to sixty potential of the gasoline-powered car.
The terminology is drivetrain loss, which means the amount of engine power that is lost while moving towards and through the drivetrain, typically around 15%.
The electric automobile is also able to use a lot greater portion of its horsepower when compared to a gas-powered car of the same horsepower rating. That’s because electric cars can operate more effectively because they have fewer moving components.
Efficiency is not solely based on fuel usage; the car’s speed and agility also play a role.
In contrast to gasoline vehicles that get the best mileage on highways, electric vehicles are more efficient when driven in cities.
When gasoline-powered vehicles achieve the best RPM (revolution per minute), the car gets the best mileage.
Automobile transmission boxes are typically built to provide the optimum fuel economy between 55 and 80 km/h since those speeds are reached at relatively low RPMs of around 1,800.
On a highway or at high speed, a gasoline-powered car can easily reach that RPM.
In the city or at a slow speed, the situation is very different. Since steady speeds are unattainable, the constant shifting of gears ruins the effort to maintain the best RPM.
Electric cars perform better in cities
With electric vehicles, the best range is in the city.
As soon as the car enters the city, it typically slows down. Regenerative braking starts engaging the system providing the best mileage.
An automobile has a lot of kinetic energy when it is running.
All of that kinetic energy is transferred to the regenerative brakes in electric cars. Internal combustion engine vehicles often use friction-based brakes, and kinetic energy from the engine is lost as waste heat.
Regenerative braking converts a large portion of the kinetic energy stored in the battery of the vehicle by using the motor of the electric vehicle as a generator.
Then, instead of drawing more energy from its battery storage, the electric car uses a large portion of the energy that was previously stored during regenerative braking on acceleration.
However, you should also educate yourself on how electric cars lose battery when parked for long.
How Much Does Wind Resistance Affect the Driving Range?
Another element that would limit the electric car’s range is the wind. In particular, a “headwind” is a wind that is blowing toward the car.
The range of the vehicle reduces as the pace of a headwind increases due to the tougher effort the motor needs to make.
An automobile will experience less drag if it is more aerodynamically designed. This means that an automobile won’t have to exert much effort to travel through the air if it is more streamlined.
The motor will need more power to keep you moving at the same speed if the electric car is facing a headwind.
Since electric cars initially have a higher drag coefficient than internal combustion engine automobiles, electric vehicles typically use less electricity at a given speed when assuming identical-sized automobiles.
The reason for this is that electric cars’ drivelines are generally smooth and their bodies barely experience any airflow.
Internal-combustion engine cars have enormous airflow through the radiator, an under-floor driving shaft, and an exhaust system which intensifies the drag of the car.
Due to the link between total drag and speed, driving an electric vehicle at high speeds will dramatically reduce its range.
However, they recover a sizable amount of energy while the automobile is slowing down or traveling downhill and have a greater aerodynamic coefficient.
6 Other Factors Affecting The Range Of Electric Vehicles
The range of an electric vehicle is influenced by numerous factors.
Electric cars face decreased efficiency under specific circumstances.
Some range-breaking driving parameters are battery power, road terrain, temperature, the number of passengers, and the load in the trunk.
The size of the lithium-ion battery in an electric vehicle is the main factor affecting its range.
Battery size is responsible for storing the maximum amount of electricity, although the battery’s energy density is also important.
The densely packed cells can store more energy. It should be noted that a battery’s capacity gradually diminishes over time as a result of damage from repeated charging.
Traction Of Tires
Poor tire traction contributes to the limitation of the range.
Tire pressure, tire quality and road surfaces are the three elements that affect tire traction.
A little reduction in range will be observed if it is operated with tires that are towards the end of their useful life and if it has recently rained.
Moreover, under-inflated tires won’t just perform poorly; they won’t be as effective either. Although speed will have a greater effect on range, poor tire traction still contributes to range loss.
The cold environment is not favorable for electric vehicles. In particular, electric car batteries dislike the cold. This is because they require a neutral temperature to function.
Loss of range will come from extreme cold or heat. The car battery will have to utilize energy to heat itself up in cold environments.
Similar to wind, the motor has to work more to counteract the weight of heavier cargo.
There is not enough information to define this by a percentage. Therefore, it is reasonable to predict that the efficiency of the electric vehicle will decrease as drivers add more goods and passengers to the vehicle.
The way the driver handles the vehicle affects the range of an electric car, just like it does with a conventional vehicle powered by gasoline or diesel.
The range suffers when acceleration occurs frequently and at full power.
The quick acceleration of an electric vehicle is certainly alluring, but to maximize range of the EV, it is preferable to use the accelerator pedal more cautiously.
Whenever the air conditioning is turned on, an automobile with a combustion engine uses more fuel.
The same goes for EVs, as the air conditioning can decrease the range. This is true for both heating and cooling functions.