Our Cars: Volkswagen e-Golf

2 October 2018: How can you maximise the range of an electric car?

The Details

Current mileage 3380 miles
Claimed range 124 miles
Actual range 162 miles

I'd known for quite a long time that I was going to drive the e-Golf to Shropshire for the annual event that is my dad's birthday. He lives 132 miles from the HJ office. So I was a little worried when I got in the Golf on Friday teatime to discover that I hadn't charged it for long enough and it was only showing 128 miles of predicted range before it would leave me stranded.

The sensible option would have been to plan a stop along the way to give it a quick charge, just like you'd stop at a petrol station if you hadn't got enough petrol or diesel. There were a number of Ecotricity's fast chargers along the route. It would only have needed 10 or 20 minutes of charging to give me enough range to comfortably get to my destination.

But where's the fun in that? I decided to see if I could eke out enough range to complete the journey in one go. Turning the air con off added a few miles. Ramping up the Golf's regenerative braking also helped. Switching the radio off didn't seem to have any effect, so I could at least enjoy The News Quiz on Radio 4 while completing my own little eco marathon.

Once on the motorway, I've already discovered that driving anywhere near the 70mph national speed limit sees the range drop off dramatically. Around 60mph is fine, but I settled for a sedate 57-ish behind a lorry.

Golf _2

Andrew finally made it to Shropshire to find that all the birthday cake had already been eaten...

As I passed Telford Services - the last Ecotricity charge point on my route, the remaining range started to drop quicker than the actual distance to my destination. The last 20 miles were on rural B-roads, and having to slow down and speed up for bends while going up and down hills was taking its toll. I limited myself to a maximum speed of 40mph in a bid to conserve charge.

By the time the range was down to 10 miles, the car was throwing up increasingly aggressive warnings that I was about to run out of electricity and I should stop being an idiot. It restricted just how quickly I could accelerate and how fast I could go. If I'd had the heater on, it would have turned that off too.

Fortunately, with eight miles of range left, I arrived at my parents' house where I could plug it in and charge overnight using a three-pin socket. Panic over.

Sitting at 57mph on the motorway and driving below 40mph on rural roads won't do much to convince anyone that electric cars are the future. But this is an extreme situation - I could have stopped for a quick 20-minute charge which would have given me enough electricity to comfortably make it to my destination. And the latest electric cars, like the new Hyundai Kona Electric, have much longer ranges. Anyway, driving slightly slower than I usually would is a small price to pay for not having to spend money on petrol or diesel, right?

« Earlier: How good is the charging infrastructure?     Later: Where are all the Volkswagen e-Golfs? »

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2 October 2018: How can you maximise the range of an electric car?
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