Can electric vehicle batteries cope in traffic jams?

Can electric vehicle batteries cope in traffic jams?
Is range anxiety a legitimate concern for EV drivers stuck in traffic?

Which? put this question to the test after receiving messages about whether EV batteries are zapped if features like air-con and heated seats are used when in a standstill.

The consumer watchdog sat in a stationary EV to simulate a traffic jam, with lights, temperature and air-con left on, music and video playing and a charger plugged in.

In just over an hour and 15 minutes, it discovered the vehicle had lost just 2% of battery from a 77kWh battery – the equivalent of only 8 miles’ range.

It then took the EV for a short drive to ensure it hadn’t given an overly optimistic remaining range based on its lack of movement. In this case it hadn’t, and the vehicle had only used a very small amount of battery to keep it comfortable.

However, it also points out the experiment was done on a summer’s day. As EV batteries don’t fare as well in colder conditions, it says it will test again in winter.

The simulation was conducted in a Volkswagen ID.4 electric SUV, with the music streaming through Android Auto, both front heated seats turned up to the max, air-con going strong, dipped headlights (not on automatic, but manually on) and a tablet plugged into a USB socket playing a film.

Lisa Barber, Which? products and services editor, said: “There is a lot of misinformation out there about electric vehicles, including whether you are likely to run out of juice when stuck in a traffic jam.

“However, our research has shown that electric vehicles can preserve their battery power well, even if they are stuck in traffic with music, air-con and headlights on.

“We know consumers are open to switching to electric vehicles, however there are several barriers to ownership that must be addressed including perceived performance, the high upfront cost of a new electric vehicle and the UK’s fragmented public charging network, which needs to be overhauled to ensure it is fit-for-purpose.”

In June, research by Nissan also implied there is little need for EV range anxiety, as drivers of these models rack up more miles than those in petrol and diesel cars.

Motorists have also been hesitant to go green due to fears over the public charging infrastructure, with official figures showing “uneven geographical distribution” earlier this year. 

However, the milestone of a half a million EVs on UK roads achieved in May shows the shift to more environmentally-friendly alternatives is growing fast.

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