It doesn’t matter how long the range is on your EV’s battery, eventually, you’ll have to recharge. Getting caught with a flat battery, or running out while driving is probably the biggest EV nightmare of all.

Unlike an internal combustion engine (ICE) car, no one can bring you a charge to get you going again. The worry that comes with this fact is called range anxiety. But it’s not just the range, various conditions can sap the EV car battery faster than expected.

Unusually cold or hot temperatures, unexpected traffic jams, detours and blocked roads can send you further from a charging point than planned. If this were to happen, an EV nightmare becomes far more likely. As the UK’s infrastructure keeps growing, it’s a worry that is slowly being reduced.

The UK’s EV charging point network

At the end of April 2022, there were more than 30,000 EV charging points across the UK. The majority of these are fast-charge points and a third are located in London. While that’s fine for city drivers going about their daily business, what happens when it’s time to take a break and head off on holiday?

Further from the capital, the network becomes a little more sparse. Northern Ireland and the North East of England have the lowest number of charging devices for electric cars.

If you’re planning to head south for the summer, sticking to the east coast will help you avoid an EV nightmare. The South East has the next largest concentration of EV charging points after London. If you’re planning to go further afield, plan your trip carefully or consider a hybrid.

Battery care to avoid an EV nightmare

Most of us are aware that batteries don’t hold a charge forever. But there are various practices that can extend battery life. The following guidance will prolong your EV battery life to avoid an unexpected EV nightmare.

  1. Avoid extreme temperatures

Extreme heat or cold is no good for batteries of any kind. Keeping your car parked in a garage will ensure fluctuations in temperature in winter and summer don’t drain your battery charge along with its useful life. If you do need to park outside, park in the shade in summer. In winter, drive around a little to warm your car and the battery up before charging.

  1. Manage battery charging

Under and overcharging can also reduce an EV battery’s capacity. Avoid letting your EV car battery drain completely and avoid regularly charging to 100% capacity.

  1. Avoid consistent fast-charging

Fast chargers are great, particularly when you’re in the midst of a long journey and want to reach the end. However, using these as your regular charging method will degrade your battery’s life. The lower capacity means you won’t be able to hold as much charge, nor will you be able to hold it for as long.

  1. Slow down in cold weather

Cold weather and batteries really don’t mix well. High power usage combined with low temperatures equals vastly reduced range for electric vehicles. Stick to a lower speed in cold weather and you’ll reach your destination with fewer charging stops.

Running out of battery in an EV

Despite the cleverness of EVs and their ability to map your journey according to available charging points, it is still conceivable that you could run out of charge. An extended traffic jam in cold weather is just one scenario that could create this EV nightmare.

Before an EV fully runs out of battery, there are plenty of warnings. The battery symbol on the dash is likely to show the declining charge, either numerically with percentages or with colour, moving from green to amber and then red before cutting out.

Even after you reach zero, most EVs will run another 10 to 20 miles. This could be enough to roll into a charging point – if you’re lucky.

If lady luck isn’t on your side, the usual breakdown options apply. You’ll first need to contact your roadside assistance cover. When you do, make sure they know they’re needed to assist an EV and you need a flatbed truck, not a standard tow truck. This is because the tilt of a standard tow truck has the potential to mess up your EV’s systems and functions.

If you don’t have roadside assistance, you’ll need to find a towing company yourself. How much this will cost depends on where you are. It varies from as little as £1 to £3 per mile. Once you’ve found a towing company to help, you’ll need to have them take you home or to the nearest charging point.

Although it’s not yet possible to have a charge brought to your out-of-battery EV, it’s a situation set to change. Zip Charge Go is a portable charging device invented by a British firm. Packing one of these before you head off on holiday is akin to packing a jerrycan full of fuel, should you need it. Before long, breakdown cover and even towing companies may carry these as standard kit.

No matter how much range you have on your electric car, the EV nightmare of running out is very real. Traffic conditions can be unpredictable. Extreme weather conditions are also becoming more common. Ironically, this is one of the key reasons EVs are being pushed as a solution. Taking care of your EV battery capacity and life or investing in some of the latest tech to carry a charge with you are two ways you can avoid your own personal EV nightmare story.

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