Kia says your music choice will affect your EV range

Many people often cite range anxiety as one of the main reasons why they aren’t switching to electric vehicles (EVs) just yet, and we really can’t fault them. There are already so many things an EV driver has to look out for to maximise range, from the terrain you’re driving on, to ambient temperature and even use of in-cabin tech. But now, Kia says that there’s one more to add to that list: your music taste.

Kia UK recently recruited Dr. Duncan Williams, a lecturer at the University of Salford’s School of Science, Engineering and Environment, and co-founder of WaveTrace, a psychoacoustic consultancy specialising in biometric tracking of human responses to sound and music stimuli, to help conduct an experiment, to find out if music choices actually impact the real-world range of an EV.

And although the trial was only held over two days, Dr. Williams says that the results were significant enough to prove their hypothesis. “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,” he said.

The participants in the trial – all without prior EV driving experience – were put behind the wheel of an EV6 in the GT-Line S trim, chosen specifically for its 14-speaker Meridian sound system, the most high-end option among all variants.

They are provided with a fixed playlist, curated with music ranging from classical works to recent pop songs, and were told to drive as they normally would on a 29 km route. Their biometric measurements, including skin temperature, sweat, pulse, and heart rate variability were then recorded for the study, alongside the EV6’s battery consumption.

After all results were tabulated, the study found that classical music – such as Beethoven’s ‘Symphony No. 9’ that was used in the study – preserved battery power the best, thus extending the real-world driving range of the EV6 by up to four times when compared to other music in the playlist.

On the other end of the spectrum, up-tempo pop songs (The Weeknd’s ‘Blinding Lights’) performed worst in terms of real-world range – averaging twice as inefficient as the other songs.

From the study:

    On average, drivers lost 25% in range expenditure versus real-world miles
        Total test route distance 29 km
        Average range expenditure 36.2 km

    Classical music (111 BPM, Beethoven, ‘Symphony No. 9’) duration: 32.5% of playlist
        Range expenditure of the 36.2 km attributable to classical music: 7.7%

    Up-tempo pop (171 BPM, The Weeknd, ‘Blinding Lights’) duration: 10.4% of playlist
        Range expenditure of the 36.2 km attributable to up-temp pop music: 23.6%

    Soul ballad (79 BPM, Adele, ‘Hello’) duration: 15.3% of playlist
        Range expenditure of the 36.2 km attributable to soul ballad music: 13.3%

“Different songs resulted in varying electrodermal activity and blood volume increase for each of the participants,” explained 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,” he added.

For those who listen to music while they drive, the results may not surprise you at all. After all, you most likely won’t be playing classical music through the speakers if you’re doing some spirited driving; it might have been your mind subconsciously telling you that it needs more blood pumping through your veins.

Nevertheless, it’s always interesting to see “common sense” being proven with numbers and science. So if you’re looking to eke out those last few kilometres on your EV’s range, make sure to avoid anything too upbeat if you insist on having music on.


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