Being stuck on the side of the road miles away from a charger is every EV owners worst nightmare. Most drivers tend to give themselves plenty of range to spare, so they’re never stuck in a difficult situation. But when you try to cut things a little too close and everything goes wrong, what happens?
You probably won’t get stuck
Your car really does not want you driving so far you run out of charge. While some very early EVs showed the true battery percentage, all newer EVs leave some reserve battery hidden from you. Just like the gas light on an ICE car might turn on with enough fuel for another 20+ miles, your EV will start giving you warnings well before you run out of power.
Most of the time you won’t even see those warnings. Teslas take charging into account when routing the GPS, and many other manufacturers are following suit, like Chevy with their MyChevrolet app. Many other EV manufacturers should start offering features like this as their range estimates become more accurate. Be sure to check your EV has some sort of route planning feature before you buy!
As long as you just follow the GPS you should be fine. While things like running the heater can negatively impact range, generally the range estimate given is pretty accurate. So if you’re on a road trip just listen to the GPS. If you think you can push your car just a bit further to avoid stopping to charge you’re just asking for trouble.
What if you ignore the warnings?
Ok, it shouldn’t be a surprise that if you repeatedly ignore all the car’s warnings eventually you will get stuck. But like I said your car does have a good deal of reserve power to get you to a charger. There’s no way to know how much more range you have though, so when these warnings start going off it is time to get to a charger ASAP.
If you fully run out of power your car will go into “turtle mode”. You’ll be limited to about 10-20 MPH no matter how hard you push the accelerator. You don’t wanna be crawling on the side of the highway like this, but it should allow you to get your car to a safe place.
You might be able to go another mile or so in turtle mode. Most of the time if you run out of battery you’re probably already close to your destination. You wouldn’t be cutting it so close if you didn’t think you could get there, so turtle mode might be enough to get back to your garage and plug in.
If it does die you’re going to need help
If it’s not enough though, you’re going to have to call roadside assistance. Most EV manufacturers have roadside assistance programs. Roadside assistance companies like AA also offer EV services and can take you to the nearest charger to get back on the road.
While mobile EV chargers do exist, these are massive generators made for commercial use by roadside assistance companies. You can’t throw this massive 350-pound generator in your trunk like a gas can. Unless you’ve stopped nearby a very helpful neighbor with a long extension cord you’re probably going to need roadside assistance.
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