Best Advice for Those Learning to Operate an Electric Vehicle

More over 660,000 all-electric vehicles were gently gliding across UK roads as 2023 came to a close. Additionally, about 40% of them were merely bought last year. That is a significant number of new electric vehicles, as well as new electric vehicle drivers. If you’re among them, keep on reading as we have compiled a list of advice for those who are just starting out with electric vehicle operation.
In order to provide the most practical and diverse range of ideas, Zap-Map has gathered information both from new and seasoned electric vehicle (EV) drivers. Why? But there are new factors to take into account when driving an EV, such as home charging and planning routes using Zap-Map. After all, using an electric vehicle is a distinctive kind of transportation. According to Zap-Map, its their best advice for EV beginners.

How to safely operate an electric vehicle?

It may surprise you to learn that efficient driving an electric car frequently begins before you even get in the car – and even before you buy it.

1. Consider how you’ll utilise your EV

It’s crucial to know your intended use for an electric automobile if you’re considering buying one or have just done so. Should it be the new family engine or just a car to pootle across town in, for instance?

When giving guidance, Maz Shar, who drives a Kia e-Niro and supports the Electric Vehicle Association England, frequently asks these questions. My uncle, two brothers, sister, father, and mother-in-law have all purchased EVs since I bought my EV and set an example, claims Maz.

“Often the initial thing I spoke to them when starting off was knowing what their regimen is like — how many miles per day, per week, and what sort of long trips they do,” he says.

After you know how you’ll utilize your EV, you may start to think more carefully about the logistics: “Can you charge at work? During your weekly shopping, is it possible to charge? within the gym? Do you have a charger nearby that I’m able to access on foot? Maz keeps going.

“Consider how much time you often spend there.

It will be excellent to have a speedy charger if the wait is an hour, which is frequently the case at grocery stores and fitness centres. A location charger will work if the trip is only a few hours long.

An example of a used electric vehicle:

Rowan, an Oxfordshire resident and Zap-Map user, drives a much older EV with a much shorter range as compared to Maz’s Kia e-Niro, having a real-world range of 265 miles.

In fact, Rowan’s used Peugeot iOn, which was reportedly one of the initial 1,000 EVs sold in the UK, is no longer being made. The former owner had used it for more than ten years even though he only acquired it in June of last year. Currently, the iOn’s range is little over 60 miles. For Rowan and his wife, who really needed an EV to enter and navigate Oxford, this is (almost) ideal.

Rowan declares, “The Ion is great for town driving,” while he concedes that anything beyond that and the constrained range can become more challenging.

2. Become familiar with your EV app

Compared to Rowan’s obsolete iOn, the ranges of much more modern electric cars are far longer. Other advances have happened in addition to improvements in range and charging.

In fact, in conjunction to downloading Zap-Map, it’s worthwhile to look at your EV’s app. Currently, the majority of automakers provide EV-specific applications with a few useful features.

According to author and EV road-tripper Paul Amess, “on my Nissan Leaf, there is a helpful app that allows you to remotely initiate or terminate charging, among other things, and it can also tell you when your vehicle has finished charging.”

Since purchasing a first-generation Nissan Leaf in 2016, Paul has been a driver of an electric vehicle. He recently updated to the Nissan Leaf MkII, though, which has a 40 kWh battery and a 160-mile real-world range.

In the summer of 2020, Paul’s Nissan Leaf charges up on the Electric Highway.

Paul adds, “More and more automakers are providing applications for their new automobiles, and it’s crucial to learn about this app as soon as you can, otherwise you may be missing out.”

For instance, he writes, “I didn’t realise that one easy touch of a button could not just defrost the front windows, but it could also make the car cozy and warm, prepared for when I eventually worked up the confidence to walk outside.” He endured half of a chilly British winter before learning this. Getting to your vehicle believing it will be heated and frost-free is the best feeling in the world.

3. Recognize your electric car’s range

Many modern electric cars now have ranges that are close to or even much exceed 300 miles. Nevertheless, if you have an electric vehicle with a limited range, like Rowan’s Peugeot iOn, you might want to consider ways to increase your vehicle’s range.

According to Paul Amess, “there are two easy steps that can be taken that can increase the range, the first of which being to tidy the car. Adding weight to your vehicle just increases fuel consumption, and this is true for both electric vehicles and conventional vehicles that run on fossil fuels.

And then, Paul says forcefully, “Check those tyres.” Incorrect tyre pressure can not only lower the range that your automobile is competent of, it will also result in extra tyre wear and tear and could even have an impact on how the car handles.

There are further ways to extend your EV’s range. If your vehicle has a “Eco” mode, for instance, it will effectively reduce acceleration and help you conserve battery life. Regenerative braking systems, which let you control how much energy the car puts back into its battery, are also common in EVs. The more powerful the setting you select, the quicker the car will slow down when you let off the energy, and the more energy you’ll save.

Of course, there’s many alternative methods you can use to accomplish this on your own, independent of the car. We typically steer clear of highways because of how old and creaky our car is, adds Rowan. In general, the roads are longer but more picturesque, and the iOn’s range endures better because it is not going at 70 mph.

4. Examine the weather

Cameron, a Bristol resident and gourmand, has only been operating an electric vehicle for a matter of months, but he has already picked up a lot of knowledge.

He uses his Kia e-Niro, a work vehicle, to travel to suppliers in north Yorkshire as well as locations closer to home, such Bristol’s plethora of independent eateries. He adores the new vehicle and also has found charging it to be really simple owing to the charging stations at his place of employment. But it hasn’t always been easy sailing.

“I suppose one of the most essential things I’ve learnt is realising that how weather, utilising your car’s features, etc., may damage the battery capacity, and merely how it’s all affected preparation for a trip,” says Cameron.

“On a really chilly day, I switched on my automobile, and the meter only dropped a small amount. As I continued to drive, I found myself using the car extras and had to change my route since I kept seeing the metre drop. In current cold weather, the range has essentially decreased from 260 miles to 220 miles, which is wonderful if I’m heading to Bristol for a “gurt grub” trip, but I do have to give it a little more consideration if I’m visiting suppliers in Essex.”

How to charge an electric vehicle

The process of recharging an EV is crucial to EV ownership. In addition, EVs may virtually always be charged almost anywhere — at home, at work, and even on a public network.

More EV flexibility comes with additional complexity, such as several connector types and charging speeds. At first, it may seem like a lot to process.

1. Never give up

The jargon and acronyms used in the realm of electric cars can be perplexing at first. Learn to distinguish between your Type 1 and Type 2 connectors, advises Gill Nowell, Head of EV at LV= General Insurance and ElectriX.

In general, there are three different EV charging speeds: slow, fast, and rapid. Generally speaking, you’ll use a slow charger at home, quick chargers in establishments like supermarket, and rapid chargers in parking lots and rest areas along highways. Each type of charger has a corresponding group of connectors (either Type 1 or Type 2, as indicated above, as well as others) that are made for usage with low or high power.

The Icons key in the Zap-Map app will explain connector kinds, map markers, and also connection and user statuses if you’re new to electric vehicles and are still a little confused.

Watch the brief video below to learn where is the Symbols key on Android and iOS.

Even if you’re unfamiliar with the concept of EVs, you’ll learn things up quickly, and after some time, you can find that you don’t even worry about charging.

Most owners of electric vehicles only charge their vehicles once or twice per week, and many decide to simply “top up” instead of wait until the battery is nearly depleted, according to Gill. “To maintain the battery in good condition, it’s a worthwhile endeavor to keep your automobile charged to about 80%.”

2. If you can, charge at home

One theme stands out among the others in the tips we got from EV drivers for this article. Rowan, a Peugeot iOn driver, advises charging at home. Even with high electricity costs, public charging stations are still less expensive.

Paul Amess, an EV traveller, agrees. Get a home charging point if you don’t already have one and have the space, he advises.

Examine your electrical tariff, he continues. If you just got an electric vehicle or are using one for the very first time, you may want to check with your energy provider. Owners of EVs can now take advantage of discounted rates on many tariffs, which are attractively priced as opposed to other tariffs.

Yet, charging at home has benefits other than just financial ones. There are further advantages. Driving longer distances is made considerably easier and more convenient by home charging, according to Maz, an EVA England volunteer. Home charging is an excellent idea given that private automobiles are typically stored overnight, and also most electric vehicle owners depend on it to make sure their EV is available to be used each morning.

(The Government now offers financial assistance to purchasers of electric vehicles who rent or own their homes through the EV Chargepoint Grant, which defrays a portion of the installation expenses for EV home chargers.)

3. Examine neighbourhood charging

Don’t give up if setting up a home charger is simply not an option for you. There are other options. For instance, researching peer-to-peer charging networks like Zap-Home might be beneficial.

Users of Zap-Map who have chosen to share their home charge points with the other EV drivers are listed on the Zap-Home network. Only registered Zap-Map users can view charge point details, and owners could offer their personal charging point under their own terms. Some owners decide to provide charging for no cost, while others prefer to charge a little price.

You might be pleasantly surprised by how many Zap-Home locations there are in your neighbourhood.

4. Establish a charger regimen

Of course, you might discover that not all of the aforementioned solutions suit you. If so, there is yet hope. Without a home charging station, you can still benefit from driving an electric vehicle. Volunteer Maz from EVA England is one example of how it is feasible to drive an EV without the need for a home charger.

I don’t have a home charger, and I’ve drove a total of 30,000 miles,” he claims. He does point out that utilising just the public charging infrastructure does necessitate some additional planning. He says, “It’s crucial to consider more about how your ‘charging routine’ will be if you can’t have a home charger.”

“Assess your regular driving habits as well as whether you leave your vehicle for long enough periods of time—at work, the grocery, the gym, or other places—to see if there are chargers available.”

“Once you’ve considered those, you can decide to look for a car that meets your requirements and has a decent range. Thanks to a number of great leasing options, you may also use an EV for just a monthly cost.”

Install the Zap-Map smartphone app to locate chargers in your area if you haven’t already. You can ‘favourite’ your usual chargers on Zap-Map once you have located them so they are simple to find. Also, you can save particular user filters, such as your preferred EV charging networks.

Become familiar with the app’s filters, advises Melanie Shufflebotham, co-founder and COO of Zap-Map and owner of a 30kWh Nissan Leaf.

They’ll assist you identify the chargers that are most effective for both you and your EV while saving you time. The filters will enable you to quickly identify the specific item you’re searching for, whether it’s a rapid charger that supports contactless payments or a slow, on-street equipment to charge overnight.

5. Make a route plan

If you own a home charging or otherwise, you will undoubtedly take a longer trip in your EV at some point and will need to find a charging station.

Rowan advises to “plan your itinerary with various charging possibilities.” “I’ve noticed that certain chargers do seem busier recently as the number of EVs has increased. If the initial one has a line, it’s always wise to have a backup.

Rowan and his wife utilise Zap-Map, especially the route planner, to look for and plan sites to charge. The route planner enables EV owners to plan a journey in their EV depending on travel parameters, EV models, and driver options. You may save and retrieve routes using the mobile app or in-car system, and the planner offers three different routing modes, including Autoroute, Suggest charges, and Display all chargers.

It’s worthwhile to check for chargers along the way when planning longer trips, advises Maz. “Usually, I schedule these around my usual breaks. In the event that one place is unavailable or unusable, I make arrangements for two. I also look at user reviews on Zap-Map.

In fact, throughout the nation in 2022, numerous “en route” charging hubs began to appear in prime areas. Operators like MFG and GRIDSERVE Electric Highway are opening charging hubs left, right, and centre, continuing the growing trend.

The sheer number of sites and how useful some of them may be to you may surprise you. Although there is still more to be done in terms of accessibility and dependability, things are getting better every day, says Maz.

After years of operating a gasoline or diesel vehicle, planning routes may need a minor mental adjustment, but that most EV drivers adjust quickly. Rowan stated, “We arrange our locations according on facilities at charging spots.” The ideal beverage for use during a 20-minute recharge is coffee or soda.

6. Consult the EV community for guidance

Take information from the other EV drivers that have been there previously, advises Melanie Shufflebotham, while arranging an EV trip.

The Nissan Leaf Owners Forum, the Kia e-Niro Owners Forum, and many others all have forums where you may ask other owners of the same EV manufacturer for help.

Moreover, when planning your trip, be sure to read any comments made by Zap-Map users since they may provide helpful information, she adds. You can read reviews of the charging experience, additional details, like if a coffee shop is nearby, as well as photographs to help you locate the charger, by checking the chat channel for each charging station on Zap-Map.

“And as you charge to assist others, don’t overlook checking in on Zap-Map!”

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