How using an electric vehicle’s stereo system can extend driving range

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The type of music playing through the audio system of an electric vehicle can impact real-world driving range with drivers getting up to four times more efficiency according to a recent test study.

While several factors are already known to affect the real-world driving range of an EV, including weather and temperature fluctuations, speed of travel, and vehicle payload, now research shows that music can now be added to that list with playlists featuring ambient classical pieces from the likes of Beethoven can help drivers sustain battery power far better over up-tempo music genres.

The research test was carried out by Kia, and overseen by Dr Duncan Williams, a lecturer at the University of Salford’s School of Science, Engineering and Environment with trial participants – all of whom had never driven an all-electric vehicle prior to the study – get behind the wheel of an EV6 to complete a predefined test route. Over the 18-mile route, a fixed playlist was played through the car’s Meridian Audio sound system, featuring different music genres and songs.

Data from the two-day test study revealed that over the 18-mile route, which took in typical everyday driving usage, on average drivers lost 25% in range expenditure versus real-world miles. When listening to classical music, only 7% of the range expenditure occurred, whereas 24% was expended when up-tempo pop music was playing.

“What we found from only two days of testing was that music really can have a dramatic influence on the real-world driving range of an electric vehicle,” said Dr Williams.

“Different songs resulted in varying electrodermal activity and blood volume increase for each of the participants,” added Dr Williams. “This had a knock-on effect on driving style, and ultimately influenced the real-world driving range of the EV6.

“In short: if you want to go further, listen to the likes of Beethoven and other relaxing classical music; if you’re not worried about range dropping a little more quickly, by all means put on some more high tempo tracks.”

Classical music such as Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 creates a calm, focused and balanced environment for the driver, resulting in a driving style that is composed and level-headed. This genre of music preserved battery power and real-world driving range of the EV6 the best. Test participants drove up to four times more efficiently while listening to Beethoven than certain other tracks on the test playlist.

The EV6’s audio settings were checked before the start of each test to ensure all levels and elements remained the same with all settings set to normal, with no enhanced audio features enabled.

Drivers were not aware of what the research was exploring, and tracks on the playlist didn’t necessarily correlate with the same sections of road from one driver to the next, due to changing road conditions and driver behavior. The results, therefore, suggest a correlation between certain types of music and greater or reduced energy use.

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