What if an electric car runs out?

Like running out of fuel in a normal car, electric cars can run out of battery. The good news is that the UK’s public charging infrastructure is growing at a rapid pace to deter that from happening

The biggest concern many new and potential electric vehicle owners have is the range from the battery in their vehicle, and running out of electricity. While early cars came with limited real world ranges, often below 100-miles, newer models have pushed well beyond this.

Much like a petrol or a diesel car, an electric vehicle is prone to running out of fuel, or in this instance, electricity, if it isn’t topped up regularly.

Running out of electricity is unlikely, though, as electric vehicles all come with a range indicator, and warn drivers when the range is past a certain level. Many also come with an inbuilt sat-nav that helps owners find the nearest charging station.

Apps like Zap Map will also help you navigate to the nearest station – they’ll also show if the station is free to use and the type of connectors available and how much a charge will cost you.

It’s inadvisable to run out of electricity in your electric car, though. Manufacturers warn against this, as it can cause damage to the battery. Running out of battery, or deep discharging, as its otherwise known, will deteriorate the battery cells and reduce their performance in the long run. It’s always better to top up with at least 20% battery life left.

How far can an electric car go?

This depends entirely on the size of the batteries on board, the type of driving you’re doing, weather and even road conditions. Electric vehicles come with a range indicator on the dashboard, this tells you the realistic, real world mileage you can expect from your car as you’re driving.

The real world mileage differs between cars. A 40kWh Nissan Leaf can do over 160 miles in the real world, while a larger, 100kWh Tesla Model S P100D can do over 360 miles.

Can my electric vehicle be towed?

In the off-chance you do run out of electricity, contact your breakdown provider and ask for a flat-bed truck to tow you to a nearby charging station. Electric vehicles shouldn’t be rope-towed or lift-towed as this can cause damage to the traction motors on board that generate electricity through regenerative braking.

Different manufacturers give different advice. Tesla and Renault, for example, advise owners to only use a flat-bed truck for towing. However, Nissan says that the new Leaf can be towed with the front-wheels raised as this avoids damaging the traction motor. However, a flat bed is always the safest choice.

What is range anxiety?

The term range anxiety is often mentioned in the same sentence as an electric vehicle. In general, it’s used to define the worry a driver has that the electric vehicle they are driving will run out of electricity before they reach their destination or charging point.

The more time you spend in an electric car, the less range anxiety you will have. This is because the UK’s public charging infrastructure is rapidly growing. There are currently over 17,500 connectors in over 6,500 locations. Vehicles also come with longer ranges today than they did years ago.