driving at 110 km/h instead of 130 km/h on the motorway, here is the impact

In an electric car, habits sometimes have to change compared to a thermal vehicle. Among the exercises that are most apprehended by some drivers, we find long journeys. Reducing your speed can help you get to your destination faster in some cases in addition to doing something for the planet. Let’s see how it looks on a Paris-Marseille, driving at 110 km/h instead of 130 km/h.

If electric cars have few limitations on a daily basis compared to their thermal counterparts, it is clear that during long trips that exceed the autonomy of the used car, it can be different. Between the availability of charging stations, the duration of the stop to fill the battery and the possible detours to be able to connect to a fast charger, it is less simple to cross France at the moment in an electric car than in thermal.

In this dossier, we will focus on the Paris-Marseille route, forcing even the most durable vehicles to recharge multiple times. With 800 kilometers consisting mainly of highways, we must try to determine if there is an interest in reducing your cruising speed to get there as quickly as possible, or if driving at maximum speeds is ultimately the best strategy.

We will of course analyze the impact of this speed reduction at the ecological level, as it is planned to reduce the maximum speed on the motorway in the coming years in France. For your information, many European countries limit the speed to 120 km/h on the motorway. In the Netherlands it is even limited to 100 km/h from 06.00 to 19.00.

Better 110 km/h or 130 km/h on the motorway?

Many factors affect the consumption of an electric car, but the most important is undoubtedly the speed. In fact, when the air resistance develops according to the square of the speed, it is easy to understand that there is a certain point from which it becomes counterproductive to drive faster, since it will be necessary to recharge more often due to higher consumption.

We will then try to check if there is any interest in driving slower on the highway with different electric cars, each of which has different fast charging and theoretical range characteristics. The speed limit is 130 km/h in France, we will use the trip planner A better route planner with this maximum speed first, then we lower it to 110 km/h.

No doubt some fast charging masters will have no problem completing 800 kilometers that separate Paris from Marseille at 130 km/h cruising speed, but we will see that there are exceptions where slower driving allows you to reach your destination faster. In addition, it may be necessary to reduce your speed to reach two fast charging stations that are too far away, a situation that unfortunately still exists nationally depending on the car used.

To put the different vehicles on an equal footing, we leave with 100% charge and arrive with 10% battery left. The four vehicles we have chosen for this exercise are the Tesla Model 3 Propulsion, the Tesla Model Y Grande Autonomie, the Mercedes EQS 450+ and the MG ZS EV equipped with the 70 kWh battery. Without further ado, let’s see how these electric cars perform at 130 km/h and then 110 km/h over 800 kilometers.

Tesla Model 3 Drive

The Tesla Model 3 Propulsion is equipped with a 60 kWh battery and offers a range in the WLTP cycle of 510 kilometers. Of course, the network of Tesla Superchargers makes it possible to cross France with complete peace of mind, even if it means stopping between 15 and 30 minutes every two to three hours depending on the route.

On our Paris-Marseille, at 130 km/h, the Tesla Model 3 Propulsion needs to be recharged four times, a total of 58 minutes. The cost of charging is around 56 euros with the current rate of 52 euro cents per charge. kWh at Tesla Superchargers.

Tesla Model 3 wall plug
A Tesla Model 3 charging on the Tesla wall outlet // Source: Tesla

By slowing down at 110 km/h it only takes three charging stops in a total of 53 minutes. The associated cost is then 45 euros, or 11 euros in savings.

The total journey time remains significantly in favor of those who want to drive at the speed limits, as at 130 km/h it takes 8 hours and 6 minutes to reach Marseille, compared to 8 hours and 42 minutes at 110 km/h maximum.

We then find the typical behavior of a vehicle that knows how to recharge quite quickly and that has controlled consumption, even at 130 km/h. Anyway, in terms of consumption, 14% power is saved by lowering the speed to 110 km/hwhich is not insignificant.

Tesla Model Y long range

With its autonomy in the WLTP cycle of 565 kilometers, the Tesla Model Y Grande Autonomie is a benchmark electric SUV. With a maximum charging power of 250 kW on Tesla Superchargers, it can undoubtedly take advantage of the network of fast chargers to reach your destination very easily.

Driving at motorway speed limits, it takes three load stops for a total duration of 54 minutes to reach Marseille from Paris. Lowering the speed limit to 110 km/h does not change the number of recharges, but the total time is drastically reduced : only 34 minutes will be needed.

Tesla Model Y wall plug
A Tesla Model Y charging on the Tesla wall outlet // Source: Tesla

However, the overall journey time is still in favor of those driving at 130 km/h, as it takes just 7 hours and 51 minutes to reach Marseille, compared to 8 hours and 26 minutes at 110 km/h. In terms of costs associated with fast charging, the trip at 130 km/h costs 58 euros, against 45 euros at 110 km/h.

It will then be necessary to reflect on what is privileged: A 35-minute extra journey saves 13 euros and 21 kWh, i.e. 12% of the journey’s total consumption.

Mercedes EQS 450+

In a long journey exercise, it’s hard to compete with the Mercedes EQS as it impresses. With its very large battery, the controlled consumption and its impressive fast charging power, it combines everything you can look for in an electric vehicle to cut the road.

The 800 kilometers that separate Paris from Marseille require only 7 hours and 17 minutes to be covered while driving at 130 km/h.. Two charging stops are required, for a total duration of 33 minutes. In terms of cost, on our simulation using the Ionity and Totalenergies terminals, it takes around 65 euros (this can be reduced, although it means in particular taking out an Ionity Passport subscription).

Mercedes EQS 20220228111308
Mercedes EQS 450+

Reducing its speed to 110 km/h will not change the situation drastically in terms of charging time or number of stops, since it is always necessary to recharge twice, for a duration of 32 minutes. The associated cost is then around 50 euros, i.e. 15 euros less than at 130 km/h.

But the total journey time will then be increased to 8 hours and 6 minutes, or almost 50 minutes more than at 130 km/h. Finally, the energy savings achieved by lowering the cruising speed to 110 km/h is around 10%or about 19 kWh for this trip.

MG ZS EV

The MG ZS EV undoubtedly represents one of the best price/performance ratios on the current electric car market, offering a WLTP range of 440 kilometers in its version equipped with the 70 kWh battery. However, its limited charging power will be a limiting factor during very long journeys, where it may be appropriate to relax.

On the 800 kilometers of our reference route, four charging stops are thus necessary while driving at 130 km/h. The total time spent on charging reaches 2 hours and 19 minutes at a cost of around 120 euros. The total journey time is then 9 hours and 25 minutes.

test-mg-zs-ev-29

By driving 110 km/h instead, there will only be advantages : reduced costs, total travel time and fewer stops. In fact, only three stops are needed to recharge, at a cost of 90 euros and a duration of 1 hour and 39 minutes. The total journey time is then 9 hours and 20 minutes, i.e. 5 minutes less than at 130 km/h.

Finally, the energy savings are far from insignificant for the MG ZS EV, as the total consumption on this Paris-Marseille at 130 km/h is 212 kWh, against 178 kWh at 110 km/h (16% energy saving).

Overview table

Car Mercedes EQS 450+ Tesla Model 3 Drive Tesla Model Y long range MG ZS EV 70kWh
Travel time at 130 km/h 7:17 8 h 06 min 7 h 51 min 9 hours 25 minutes
Travel time at 110 km/h 8 h 06 min 8 hours 42 minutes 8 hours 26 minutes 9:20
Travel costs at 130 km/h €65 €56 €58 €120
Travel costs at 110 km/h €50 €45 €45 €90
Consumption at 130 km/h 177 kWh 149 kWh 176 kWh 212 kWh
Consumption at 110 km/h 158 kWh 128 kWh 155 kWh 178 kWh

Conclusion

As we’ve seen, vehicles that benefit from fast charging would do well to drive at speed limits if they want to get there as quickly as possible. Having to charge a little more will be compensated by the reduced driving time, but in most cases you have to accept paying more to cover the same number of kilometers.

Exceptions are to be found on the side of vehicles that charge less quickly, like the MG ZS EV, which we have chosen here. In cases like this, everything will be in favor of reducing the cruising speed. Consumption is of course lower, which has a positive impact on the costs of the long journey. This can be a strong argument for reducing the speed, as the prices of fast charging tend to increase. Fortunately, the day-to-day costs of an electric vehicle remain unbeatable, especially when compared to an equivalent thermal vehicle.

Finally, in a context of energy sobriety, where reducing energy consumption makes sense, reducing cruising speed is very relevant. This has the dual benefit of limiting the cost as well as the CO2 footprint of its long journeys, sacrificing only a few 10 minutes over 800 kilometers. On average, 13% of the energy consumed by the four vehicles in this file can be saved by driving at 110 km/h instead of 130 km/h.. And this was the choice of reason?

Of course, the same exercise should be tested in practice to compare the theoretical numbers with reality. The app A better route planner is, however, quite good in its predictions. But in practice, certain work zones and traffic jams can lower the average speed, thus reducing the difference between 100 km/h and 130 km/h. However, you must heed the reminders, as it takes more energy to bring a car up to 130 km/h than to accelerate to 110 km/h.

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