Electric Cars

Use Navigation to Extend Range on Road Trips

February 21, 2022

Making Trips More Efficient

Most days, no matter how big a battery your electric vehicle has, you’ll easily complete your commuting, errands, and other tasks without coming close to maxing out its range. You’ll plug in overnight, and leave the next morning with a full “tank” of energy. But, if you are planning on taking a longer trip where you’ll need to charge along the way, your journey time can be significantly impacted by where you charge and what route you take – some chargers are faster than others, and some routes are more efficient than their alternatives.

Fortunately, almost all electric vehicles come equipped with many advanced technologies to make efficient and fast route planning easy to minimize your time stopped for charging, and maximize your time on the road. Taking advantage of your vehicle’s navigation system is the key to unlocking some of these features. By entering your planned destination, you enable your EV to find the most efficient route, taking into account terrain, traffic, cruising speeds, and charging times.

Connected to the Cloud

How do they do it? Modern EVs don’t just access an old map on a hard drive in the car; they’re connected to online databases in the cloud, and receiving real-time information from road users, traffic systems, and charging networks – enabling them to determine as you drive what the best route is. And once they’ve chosen a charging point, they can even make sure the vehicle’s battery is in the optimum state to receive the fastest charge!

As highly-connected electronic devices, EVs know a lot about how you drive. For instance, the new Ford Mustang Mach-E has access to cloud data uploaded by other Mach-E, and other Ford, drivers. Mach-E’s track how much energy is used in different circumstances, including varying speed, terrain, and climate conditions, enabling other vehicles to access more accurate data for all routes – including those a customer has never driven before. The Mach-E’s navigation system factors in this data when its navigation is activated, making for more accurate real-time range predictions, more accurate alerts when charging will be required, and enabling it to precondition the battery if charging is needed.

Accessing More Data for Better Efficiency

The navigation system in the Audi e-tron models (e-tron, Q4 e-tron, and e-tron GT) actually has two navigation modes running concurrently: active and inactive. When the navigation system is inactive, the average energy consumption of the last 62 miles is used to calculate the predicted range. When navigation is active, the projected consumption accesses to cloud to get real-time data about speed limits, red and green lights, differences in elevation, and current traffic information to provide a much more accurate estimate of consumption – which is then used to determine when and where charging will be required.

Like almost all electric vehicles, the e-tron models will also access online databases of charging stations to determine where the fastest charging options are – taking into account your planned route. A super-fast charger may be a little further off the beaten path, but may “give you back” more time on your route than a quickly-accessible slower charger. Once you’ve approved the choice of charging station, the e-tron GT can precondition the battery while driving towards the charger, applying heating or cooling so that it is at the optimum temperature to receive the fastest charge. Preferred charging stations can then be saved in the navigation’s memory so that the battery is automatically preconditioned for future visits.

It Will Only Get Better

The quality of the data in the cloud, and EVs’ ability to make use of it, will only improve over time as more EVs provide a more detailed picture of efficiency and performance for every stretch of road out there. Over-the-air updates for many EVs will let them seamlessly access more data in the cloud, including improved real-time traffic data, road conditions, and even weather data. All of which will make green driving that much easier.