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What Happens If An Electric Car Runs Out Of Charge?

How you go about charging your electric vehicle (EV) matters just as much as how people fuel their regular cars. Just like petrol or diesel-powered cars, EVs rely on the battery charge to keep their vehicles running. And just like any battery, this power can be fully depleted. So what happens when you run out of charge?

Before we answer this, let’s consider the basics of charging an EV

How to Charge An EV?

All EVs come with charging cables that can be connected to an outlet or charger. You can have a home charging station installed, or make use of the many public chargers available. Home charging stations are great for those with off-street parking. They are a convenient and fast way to get your car charged. Many EV owners that install these home chargers make use of the off-peak rates to enjoy even better cost savings.

If you want to use public charging stations, several helpful apps can show you those closest to wherever you are. Some charge points, like those in supermarket car parks, can be free.  Most, however, charge low rates that are just as competitive as charging at home.

The period spent achieving full charge is mostly dependent on the type of charging cable being used and the vehicle. Slow and fast chargers are often used at home, while fast and rapid charging is available on public charging networks. The faster a vehicle is charged, the less time it takes to add range.

It is when an EV driver surpasses the range that the battery accommodates that they are likely to run out of charge. It is advisable to know what kind of range your vehicle has on a full charge. That way you can estimate when on a lower charge and figure out how regularly and for how long you should be charging to facilitate your normal commutes.

Your car manual or dealership can help with this information. Even with longer journeys, having this information at the back of your mind can be helpful in planning when and where to stop along the way to charge.

What Happens When an EV Runs Out of Charge?

As said, a battery going dead is entirely possible. Chances are you have faced a similar scenario with your phone. Or even run out of petrol when you were still driving fossil-fuel powered cars. The vehicle comes to a stop and you cannot drive any further. But arriving at this point with an EV is not as simple when compared to conventional vehicles.

When driving an electric car and faced with the possibility you may not make it to a charging station in time, there is range anxiety. This means you become stressed out trying to figure out if you have enough juice to get you where you need to go.

Thankfully, the technology that EV cars come with makes this an unnecessary emotion to experience. Most will give you plenty of notice when your battery power becomes depleted. You will likely see the warning light come on at around 12%. At 5% the warning light will begin to flash more insistently. Your dashboard should indicate the amount of charge remaining on your battery and the number of miles you can travel before it stops.

Many EV navigation systems also inform the driver of the closest charging stations they can get to and top up. Some models, like Nissan Leaf, will enter into turtle mode when the battery charge reaches 0%. At this lowest level, all power is rerouted to permit several miles of driving distance at minimal speed. This gives those about to have their battery depleted a chance to pull over safely.

What to Do When an EV Runs Out of Charge?

If the EV has stopped in a place you are not able to connect your charging cable, then the best option is to call for roadside assistance. Several providers have vehicles equipped to facilitate as much as ten minutes of fast charging. This should be enough to get you to a charging station.

However, even without this equipment, the assistance vehicle should be able to tow or carry your vehicle on a flatbed to a charging point. Depending on your warranty and which roadside assistance provider you call, you may qualify for towing to your dealership or home.

Under normal circumstances, you are highly unlikely to run out of charge on your EV. This is because of the sophisticated and insistent warning systems that give most drivers ample opportunity to find a charging station before their battery goes dead. As charging point infrastructure grows and battery technology advances towards longer ranges, this problem is unlikely to become a matter of much concern.

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