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EV drivers can drive smarter tooBy Bob Saynor, programme manager, Smarter Driving Training, Energy Saving TrustThe impact of driver behaviour and habits on fuel consumption and carbon emissions is now well documented. Those who go easier on their accelerator and brake get more miles out of their tank. Despite such general awareness, even drivers who cover many thousands of miles every year can benefit from a few useful reminders and learn new techniques, such as those covered in the Energy Saving Trust's Smarter Driving course. Our course, which takes just 50 minutes and costs only £201, is proven to cut fuel bills and carbon emissions by an average of about 15%. But what relevance does such a course have when it comes to electric vehicles? Quite a significant one, as we discovered at the Energy Saving Trust when we launched the UK's first ever EV Smarter Driving course at the beginning of 2011. Reviewing work into the effects of different styles of driving on the performance of electric vehicles carried out by Millbrook and Cenex, we jointly developed a course that addresses one of the key issues for EV drivers - range. After all, you may not be able to cut exhaust emissions of zero-rated vehicles further but, just as in a conventional vehicle, you can certainly add to the distance driven before it requires its energy source replenishing. In EVs, the 'regenerative braking' - the process by which kinetic energy from the movement of the car is converted into electricity that charges the battery when the driver takes his foot off the accelerator is key. When you're in a vehicle that may travel only 100 miles or so before needing a recharge, that's a considerable advantage.The technique in an electric car - just as it is in petrol or diesel vehicles - is to avoid unnecessary acceleration and braking. By anticipating the road ahead, easing off the accelerator earlier and coming to a stop much more smoothly - and possibly eliminating the need to come to a stop at all - the battery in an EV continues to receive a charge. The resulting smooth, flowing driving technique is much less stressful too. Regenerative braking isn't the end of the difference between smarter driving in EVs and conventional vehicles though, as more miles can be added to the distance achievable on a single charge in other ways too. Turning up heating or air conditioning, for example, can significantly impact an EV's range. Some models can be pre-heated or pre-cooled while still on charge which helps extend range, and provides a comfortable environment in which to start a journey. And, just as it does in a conventional vehicle, higher speeds increase fuel consumption - but in an electric vehicle, the impact is magnified. In both EVs and conventional vehicles, air resistance increases with speed, meaning the engine has to work harder and, in doing so, draws on its energy source. Drivers of petrol or diesel cars can compensate for the air resistance by moving through the gears. Electric vehicles don't have that advantage, so when speed goes up, so does the drain on the power source, and although the latest EVs can cruise at motorway speeds, if they're driven at speed for a long time, that time won't be as long as the driver hopes or expects. Lessons like this are worth learning in a controlled environment, rather than in a layby waiting for a tow. That's where a Smarter Driving course comes in. The course has been on offer since February when, after More information is available on our website, as well as other resources such as copies of our free monthly enewsletter, Fleet Briefing which each month analyses a topical fleet management issue. You can also phone us on 0845 602 1425 or email

Advertorialtheir own training at Millbrook, the Energy Saving Trust's Smarter Driving instructors launched the pilot course in a programme funded by the Department for Transport. Almost 70 drivers, including private motorists, company car drivers, motor dealers and car club members, took the course in its first three months. The results were impressive, with an average 16% reduction in electricity consumption, equating to a 20% increase in range. A small number of individuals had misgivings prior to the training; however, everyone enjoyed the training and was positively enthusiastic about it afterwards. Electric vehicles are enjoyable to drive, and the training gave them the confidence to embark on longer journeys. They understood that hard acceleration in an EV is actually less of a drain than in a conventional car, but driving at higher speed has a greater impact in an EV. They also discovered that by employing the things they may have neglected since their driving test - anticipating the road ahead and braking smoothly - they could get significantly further on a single charge. For an EV driver, that's power indeed.1Based on eight per day for Smarter Driving in petrol and diesel cars and vans. Subsidised by the Department for Transport. Some quotes from participants in EV SD training:"I feel a lot more clued up about EV driving now. I think anyone buying one should really be given some training about how to get the most out of it.""I have a much better understanding of the trade-off between performance, regeneration and range.""I gained confidence from the course and managed more miles."