With electric cars benefitting from ever-improving range, the reality is you are probably as likely to run out of electricity as you are to find yourself running out of petrol – something that doesn’t happen all that often, let’s be honest.
In fact, a survey in America showed that while nearly 60% of people said the fear of running out of charge was a reason they’d not yet gone electric, more than 96% of actual electric car drivers said they’d never run out of charge once.
How Likely Am I To Run Out Of Battery?
With new electric cars offering range that is increasingly comparable to combustion-engined machines – from 100-150 miles for smaller city cars with smaller battery packs, all the way up to 400 miles for long-range cruisers that pack in 2 or 3 times as many batteries – the likelihood that you will find yourself in a place where you are unable to charge as your gauge falls towards 0% is remote. In fact, as of May 2021, there are now more than 15,000 places in the UK where you can charge your car – that’s nearly double the number of petrol stations. And the figure is rising every week...
That being said, there are still stories of intrepid motorists who have challenged the laws of physics to see just what happens when their EV batteries really do shut down.
What happens When The Battery Is Fully Drained?
So let’s pretend we’re one of those brave souls who drove until it would drive no more. What happens? Well, before you ever end up anywhere near the danger zone your electric car, just like any car, is primed to give you plenty of warning. Normally at or around the 20% charge mark.
Battery Monitoring Systems
All EVs have sophisticated monitoring systems that can accurately predict the amount of charge you have left and, just as usefully, calculate what that means in terms of range. So you’ll have plenty of ability to work out where you are and, as you’re in need of some charge, where you need to go to top up within the range you have left.
Routed To Charge Points
Many cars will have integrated satellite navigation systems that can automatically route you to the nearest charging point. And remember, as the charging infrastructure develops, that could just as easily be the nearest lamp post or supermarket car park as it might be a fuel station forecourt. Gone are the days of having to find a petrol station before you can refuel.
Even if your car can’t find you a charger there are plenty of third-party apps and websites like ZapMap.com which can not only hook you up but also tell you if it is empty at the time, what connectors it will accept and how much it will cost to use.
Still feeling like a walk on the wild side? (Or a long walk home…?) Well then don’t charge your EV. Let’s keep driving...
You’ll notice that as your battery life heads ever closer to zero your car will send you increasingly strident warnings that it’s close to empty. It’s not stupid and will do its level-best to ensure you’re not going to be either.
As the charge drops down to just above 0% the car will most likely stop trying to predict its final potential mileage – it doesn’t want to promise you a handful of miles more range only to find out you promptly turned the air conditioning on full and cranked up the stereo… At this point it’s more concerned with protecting its batteries and, if needs be, getting you safely to the side of the road.
Entering Failsafe Mode
Electric batteries don’t like being ‘deep discharged’. It’s bad for their chemistry and can lower the life expectancy of the battery pack. So car engineers invariably build in a small buffer zone which prevents you truly draining the pack even when your car shows 0%.
That said, at some point it’s going to stop, so with the final few ions of charge left remaining, the car will go into a failsafe mode. Nissan calls it ‘Turtle’ mode. Now your performance is reduced to a crawl but you will have enough power left to pull safely over to the side of the road.
Then it’s time to work out how you’re getting home… Electric car makers strongly advise that you never tow an electric car as the motors remain connected to the wheels and can be damaged by being pulled along. Far safer to contact your breakdown service and get them to bring a flatbed truck to take you to a charging point.
Of course, at Vanarama we’d never recommend treating your electric car in that way. In fact, we’re going out of the way to make EV ownership even easier. That’s why every electric car lease we arrange comes with a free home charging point worth over £900 (terms and conditions apply). If you have one or cannot have one installed we have our Free Public Charging offer giving over 8000 miles use from around 8000 different charging stations courtesy of BP Pulse. So either way, to find the electric car of your dreams, click here to visit our EV leasing section.