What do you do if your electric car battery runs out?
The internet is full of caricatures of a Tesla or other electric car being charged with a diesel generator because the battery has run out. So what do you do when your electric car runs out of electricity?
If you have never owned an electric car, there are quite a few things you might be afraid of. Perhaps the most common fear is range anxiety or, to put it more simply, worrying about whether you will have enough battery. This has long been one of the main reasons why people shy away from buying an electric car, even though battery capacities have increased to hundreds of kilometres.
In 2019, Volvo conducted a survey in the United States, in which 58% of respondents said that the main barrier to buying an electric car was the fear of the battery running out. Add to this the fact that 49% of drivers were concerned about the lack of availability of public charging stations, and you have a large number of potentially curious but cautious drivers.
For someone new to the world of electric cars, range anxiety can be a real worry. Electric cars are still a relatively new phenomenon that has only become commonplace in the last few years, at least in larger cities. Some might think that since electric cars do not catch their attention, the time must not yet be ripe for them.
In reality, few people get stranded on the road with a dead battery
In fact, the electric car industry is evolving at a tremendous speed, as if it were wearing seven-league boots. The total number of electric cars in the world has almost doubled in the last two years, and increased tenfold in the last six years (BNEF). While in 2020, nearly 2.3 million electric cars were sold worldwide, we expect the 2021 results to be close to 4.4 million, meaning nearly a 7% share in global car sales, EV Universe reports. Battery capacity is increasing, which means a longer driving range. The public charging network is also developing rapidly.
According to a survey by Green Car Reports a few years ago, 95% of electric car owners had never run out of battery power while driving, with 77% saying that after buying an electric car they had no worries at all about getting stranded by the side of the road. Electric cars themselves, equipped with a number of precautions, make a major contribution to this.
Should these statistics still not give you peace of mind, let us talk about what to do in the event that the unlikely does happen and your electric car’s battery dies.
What happens when the battery charge approaches zero?
You will know about the risk of your electric car coming to a standstill well before it actually happens. As the battery charge approaches zero, the car will bombard you with warning messages directing you to the nearest charging station. You can most likely find the nearest public charger from the Enefit Volt app.
Even if you have a CCS car, you can use our older chargers with a Type 2 cable. Modern electric vehicles give a fairly accurate estimate of how far you can drive with the remaining charge. In some cars, certain comfort features turn themselves off, but you can extend the range yourself by turning off the air conditioning and radio, for example.
If you do find yourself in trouble on the highway and there is no charger nearby, your car will save enough energy for you to drive to a safe place to stop before coming to a standstill. But again, notifications should give you enough time to plan a trip to the nearest charger.
What happens when the charge reaches 0%?
There are no charging taxis in use in Estonia that have been tried out in some countries, nor are there electric cars that could be fitted with the battery swap stations being developed in China. However, there are still a few ways out of the situation.
Option 1: A good plan With Enefit Volt
As pointed out above, the chances of accidentally or negligently getting stranded on the road with a modern electric car due to an empty battery are extremely low. Enefit Volt’s public network alone has nearly 200 public chargers, of which about a fifth are fast and ultra-fast chargers compliant with both European (CCS) and Japanese (CHAdeMO) charging standards. In addition, there are a lot of older CHAdeMO/Type 2 chargers all over Estonia, where you can at least top up the essential charge with your own charging cable. The best way to cope with being stranded on the road is to anticipate it and make a good plan before you travel, i.e., find out where and which chargers will be on your route. Of course, the easiest way to do this is on the Enefit Volt app.
Option 2: For help in a real emergency, call roadside assistance
It is quite likely that your electric car is rather new, i.e., less than 5 years old. In this case, it is also quite likely that you are entitled to free roadside assistance. For some manufacturers, the warranty period and therefore the period of assistance may be longer. It is good to know where to find the right number to call, should you get stranded on the road.
In addition, insurance companies offer around the clock roadside assistance as part of a comprehensive insurance plan, which can also be used in the event of an electric car running out of battery. However, it should be examined beforehand whether this cover has any restrictions and what they are. For example, you may be able to use this option a limited number of times during the insurance period. And in case of emergency, make sure to call the right number. But, how many people do you know who have accidentally managed to drive their electric car battery to zero charge?
Option 3: Bring a home charger (and a Type 2 cable)
If you are planning a longer trip, it is a good idea to make sure that in addition to the Type 2 cable, you take along a home charger that can be used with a regular socket. It may happen that the car does not make it to the charging station with the last of its power reserves, but it will make it to a restaurant, hotel or some other business willing to ‘lend’ its socket.
The future: a portable charger and battery swap
Around the world, different solutions are being developed to make driving electric cars more hassle-free. Start-up companies such as Sparkcharge and Freewire have developed portable ultra-fast chargers that can be quickly transported to the person in need. They are too big to fit in a car and there is no practical need for it. Chinese electric car manufacturer NIO has been expanding its battery swap service domestically for several years; they also expanded to Norway at the beginning of the year, introducing their new model.