EV Glossary

Drive Cycle

In the context of Electric Vehicles (EVs), a “drive cycle” is like a pretend journey that helps us understand how far an EV can go on a single charge. Imagine a racecar on a track – it follows a specific path at a certain speed. In the same way, a drive cycle maps out how a car might drive in the real world, with starts, stops, speeds, and rests.

One famous drive cycle is the “EPA City and Highway cycles.” It’s like a test drive that helps car makers figure out an EV’s estimated range in city and highway conditions. Think of it like this: if you drive slowly in the city, you might get more miles out of your EV, but if you drive fast on the highway, you’ll use up your battery faster.

Imagine you have two friends with identical EVs. Friend A drives carefully in the city (like the EPA City cycle), while Friend B zooms on the highway (like the EPA Highway cycle). After a day, you’ll notice Friend A still has some battery left, but Friend B needs a recharge. The drive cycle helps car companies understand these differences and gives you a better idea of how far you can go on a single charge.

Some very common drive cycles are as follows: 

These drive cycles help car manufacturers and consumers understand how far an electric vehicle can travel on a single charge under different driving conditions, making it easier to choose the right EV for their needs.

1. EPA City Cycle:

  • Like driving in a city with stop-and-go traffic.
  • Measures how far an EV can go in urban conditions.
  • Helpful for estimating range during everyday city driving.

2. EPA Highway Cycle:

  • Similar to driving on a highway at constant speeds.
  • Evaluates an EV’s range on long, open roads.
  • Useful for estimating range during highway trips.

3. WLTP (Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicles Test Procedure):

  • A global standard that combines city and highway driving.
  • Represents a mix of different driving conditions.
  • Provides a comprehensive range estimate for various driving scenarios.

4. NEDC (New European Driving Cycle):

  • Previously used in Europe, now replaced by the WLTP
  • Simulates a mix of urban and extra-urban driving conditions.
  • Helped establish standard range estimates for vehicles in Europe.

The NEDC was important for evaluating the efficiency and emissions of vehicles in Europe, but it has largely been replaced by the WLTP, which is considered more representative of real-world driving conditions.