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NCSU researchers work on better estimates for electric car batteries

Posted November 14, 2014
Updated November 21, 2014

— Drivers of gasoline-powered cars know when they're running empty.

Researchers in Raleigh are trying to make it easier for drivers of electric cars to know when they're low on juice.

Bruce Moore is one of those electric car drivers. He loves his all-electric Nissan Leaf. Before he got the car, he studied his driving habits to make sure the 100-mile range between charges wouldn't be a problem.

“I was doing six or seven trips a year where I was going more than 100 miles, so I thought, that's good,” said Moore.

Drivers of electric cars have to plan trips around that range limitation. Electric cars have a display to alert drivers when they need to recharge, but many owners say they aren't accurate.

Researchers at North Carolina State University are trying to change that.

“We are getting the data off this battery off a microcontroller,” researcher Habiballah Rahimi said.

They are developing a more accurate estimate of a battery's range.

This new software can analyze a planned route by looking at the topography, weather conditions and congestion -- all are factors that can affect an electric car's range.

“When you put in your destination, we can accurately predict how much charge you will have when you get there,” Eichi said.

The N.C. State software is about 30 percent more accurate than what's available now.

Moore says better range estimates would give him peace of mind.

“I'm enthused about it because at least you won't have to go according to the guess-o-meter,” Moore said.

Researchers say this new software likely will be available as a phone app in the future.

Eventually, they hope it will be built into the navigation systems on electric cars.


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  • Sean Dowe Nov 14, 2014
    user avatar

    Fuel cells will make this issue moot.

  • CrewMax Nov 14, 2014

    I don't an extension cord is the answer.