Can you squeeze more electric driving range out of your plug-in hybrid vehicle? Here are a few tips to help you get more miles from the PHEV batteries.
When driving a plug-in hybrid vehicle, you won’t have the same range anxiety that plagues those behind the wheel of fully electric vehicles. The gas engine pairs nicely with the electric system to offer a much better driving range and efficiency in a PHEV. That said, you can use these tips to extend the electric range and avoid tapping into the gas in the tank.
The harder you press the accelerator to take off from a stop, the more fuel you’ll use quickly. This could be the electricity from the PHEV battery pack or the gasoline that powers the engine. It’s much better to accelerate smoothly and evenly to avoid draining the batteries too quickly.
Slow Down – Batteries Work Better Under 60 MPH
Unless you’re driving on a road with a speed limit over 60 mph, limiting your PHEV to this speed improves the energy efficiency of your vehicle. Although speed limits increased over the past few decades, most automakers still build vehicles to perform optimally at 60 mph.
The Department of Energy reports energy usage is reduced by as much as 14% when speeds are reduced by ten mph. Obviously, this doesn’t mean you have to crawl along and be a hindrance to other drivers, but when you keep your speed to 60 mph or less, your vehicle operates at its optimal efficiency.
Maximize Regenerative Braking
Any vehicle with an electrified powertrain is also equipped with regenerative braking. This system is typically engaged when you lift off the accelerator, turning your plug-in hybrid vehicle into an energy generator. This recaptured energy is sent to the batteries, allowing your electric driving range to last longer.
Some PHEVs have a lift-pedal system, while others have a one-pedal system, which is more efficient than using friction brakes to slow the vehicle. Even if you have to engage the traditional brakes, you’ll still recover some energy sent to the batteries.
Avoid The Heater – Heaters Drain Battery Power
It’s been proven that electric vehicles perform poorly in cold temperatures compared to regular, mild temperatures. The same goes for plug-in hybrid vehicles but on a lesser scale. The energy required to operate your heater typically comes from the battery pack, which reduces your driving range.
Limit The AC
During the hot summer months, it might feel impossible to drive your plug-in hybrid without operating the air conditioning. Still, if you enjoy a breeze coming into your vehicle, opening a window or two is a more efficient option. Operating the air conditioning can drain the battery power rapidly, leaving you with nothing but the gas engine during your ride.
Tires Improve Driving Range
During the movie “Days of Thunder,” the line “tires are what win races” was uttered famously. While we’re not suggesting you take your PHEV out to a track for a fast lap, your tires and their condition are among the most important ways to ensure you enjoy maximum driving range in your vehicle.
Tires are the only part of your car that touches the road. Proper inflation is extremely important, but some experts suggest that more than 25% of vehicles on the road have improperly inflated tires.
Lighten The Load – Don’t Carry Stuff You Don’t Need In Your Vehicle
Why do you have a Christmas tree in the trunk of your car? Will you actually use those camp chairs this week? Is there room in your trunk for a load of groceries? If you’re like many drivers, you’re likely carrying as much as 100 pounds of extra cargo that’s completely unnecessary. This cargo decreases the efficiency of your PHEV by 1-2% per 100 pounds.
Avoid The Accessories
Some vehicle accessories are useful while still reducing the driving range of your plug-in hybrid vehicle. This means you’ve got to choose what you need and want on your vehicle at all times. The bulky cargo carrier is great during a road trip to your parent’s house but not something you should have on top of your vehicle during normal driving.
Avoid Traffic Delays Whenever Possible
Your navigation system should have an option for the most energy-efficient route, which aids in making your PHEV a bit more efficient. If you want to get the most driving range out of your battery pack, plan the route to avoid traffic delays and heavily traveled routes.
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