Hypermiling and charging in the Audi e-tron GT
Hypermiling. Driving a car as efficiently as possible. Recently a team from Enso tyres equipped a Renault Zoe with their new EV-specific tyres and found out that not only were they more efficient than the standard rubber, but if you drive very gently indeed you can make a Zoe go 475 miles on a single charge of its 52kWh battery.
This chimed with something I’d been doing in the Audi. It had been proving more economical than I expected. In my head I’d expected it to be broadly similar in efficiency to other EVs of the same size, weight and power, and return about 2mpkWh. But no. It had been consistently doing about 2.5.
Now, I suspect this is purely down to warmer weather – for example the Zoe’s average efficiency had been 9.1mpkWh, but in testing on a hotter day it managed 10.6. But progress is progress, and the uplift inspired me to drive ever more gently to see where it got to.
So this month I have been, well, not hypermiling exactly as that would be actively dangerous (the Zoe’s average speed around Thruxton during the record attempt was 18.2mph), but being a normal law-abiding citizen. And I’ve been a long way while doing so, travelling almost 1200 miles, including a 600-mile round trip to Durham and Lancaster. Overall I got 2.9mpkWh, with a best of 3.3 during a roadwork’d 50mph section of the M6.
That’s enough to give the Audi a genuine 250-mile range. Which, I realised a little later when I blasted to Scotland in a diesel Range Rover and easily got 500 miles from the tank – is actually pretty crap. And that’s the truth. The Audi is a very, very good long haul car, it rides softly and gently, sails along effortlessly, wants to keep going. But can’t.
I have an iron bladder, I was just getting into my stride, but after 200 miles of my longest trip yet in the GT I had to stop in Leeds to recharge. The new Skelton services are so lovely they’re worth a diversion. Just not if you’re intending to use the Ionity chargers. There was a chap already there in his Merc EQC, perplexed. I joined him and for 10 minutes we battled the system. It was his teenage son who managed to break the deadlock and work out that these particular Ionity chargers only work if you have the app downloaded.
And then proceed to burgle your wallet. 65kWh cost me £45. At home the previous evening 87kWh had been £13.93. Much less than a quarter of the price. And meaning that at current pump prices an Ionity stop is the equivalent of doing 27mpg, against 117mpg for a home fill.
Got an electric car? It’s the wild west out there as far as charging goes at the moment. Half the places don’t work properly and the costs vary hugely. We get excited about petrol stations if there’s a five pence per litre difference, which might make a £2.50 difference to your bill. With electric the difference between suppliers isn’t four per cent, but 400.
Or infinity. That night my hotel in Lancaster offered free charging. I got up in the morning to a full battery that had cost me nothing. God I felt smug.
But even free fuel couldn’t persuade me to drive hard. There’s something about electricity that brings out my inner hairshirt. I turn the air con off, often switch it to Eco mode with the extra limitations on power, acceleration and comfort that that brings, delight in coasting, anticipate as far ahead as possible. Why is this? This is not me. Maybe it’s the Audi. Certainly a Taycan didn’t make me feel this way.
This is the more soothing car, it rises and falls softly with the road, feels unflappable and has been so well calibrated. Every input results in the exact right response. There’s a trace more wind noise than I’d like (I’m sure double-glazed glass is on the options list somewhere), but otherwise it sweeps along as sweetly as an S-Class or Bentley Conti GT.
Next month I’ll revert to type and barrel about. And I’ll make a prediction – the economy won’t drop that much. Don’t forget that petrol economy is mostly about heavy fuelling under hard acceleration and energy wastage under braking. What I expect is that electric driving will take out the peaks and troughs, because you always have recuperation working in your favour. That said, after the Enso team had finished their mighty feat, we put some charge into the Zoe and I went and did a flat out lap of Thruxton. 1.2mpkWh. So presume my prediction is nonsense.