Electric vehicles and other cars in a traffic jam

Can an electric vehicle’s battery run out when stuck in traffic?

Do you have questions about electric vehicles’ battery range? We’ve selected this article from PA Motoring Service to walk you through EV battery life and traffic.

Range anxiety is one of the main reasons car buyers give for not wanting to make the switch to an electric vehicle just yet.

Although most EVs on sale today have a range in excess of 200 miles and could suit most people’s daily journeys, being able to charge at home is impossible for many, leaving them at the mercy of public infrastructure.

With this in mind, the idea of being caught in stationary traffic for an extended period of time could lead to legitimate concerns about how much battery is being used by features such as the air conditioning and radio – and in turn, how many miles they take off the battery’s range.

Consumer publication Which? has worked to find out just how much of a drain these features can be, and whether drivers should actually be worried or not.

To find out, the publication sat in a stationary Volkswagen ID.4 electric SUV to simulate being in a traffic jam. The occupants streamed music through Android Auto, put both front heated seats on maximum, put the air conditioning on, put the headlights on dipped beam, and plugged a tablet into a USB socket to play a film.

Read our guide to electric vehicle range here.

In news that will likely alleviate any concerns surrounding battery drain, the Volkswagen lost just two per cent of battery in over an hour and 15 minutes. For this particular vehicle, that equated to just eight miles of range.

One important caveat, though, is that the experiment took place on a warm summer’s day. Batteries perform worse in cold conditions, and driving in winter will see a noticeable drop in an EV’s range.

Which? says it will do the same experiment in winter to see if using these features in cold weather has a bigger drain on the battery.

The good news from this experiment is that, so long as you hit traffic with a decent amount of charge left, you have nothing to worry about using the climate controls and entertainment features.

However, if you’re running low, it could be a good idea to turn off anything that’s not totally necessary for peace of mind.


This article was written by Darren Cassey and PA Motoring Reporter from PA Motoring Service and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@industrydive.com.


How can I find an electric car on the Motability Scheme?

Motability Scheme customers can now choose to pick from fully electric cars by ticking the ‘Electric’ box under ‘Fuel Type’ in the Car Search tool.

Search the full range 

Careful use of the Motability Scheme Car Search tool will help you tailor the choice of over 1,400 cars available on the Scheme to your specific needs. The ‘advanced search’ function lets you narrow down choices to your exact requirements, including Advance Payment, brand, individual model, body style, fuel type, fuel consumption, number of seats – even whether it’s eligible for younger drivers.

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