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The music you listen to impacts your EV's range: Kia study

When you think about it, it's not all that strange that slow jams minimize your draw on your EV6's battery

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I grew up in the ’80s, and having received my first electric guitar at a young age, quickly picked up a love for rock n’ roll, complete with blazing riffs and distorted guitars. But according to recent research commissioned by Kia, that type of upbeat music would likely cause me to shrink my range in an EV. (And that goes for those hip-hop Kia Soul hamsters, too!)

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Kia U.K. recently enlisted Dr. Duncan Williams, a lecturer at the University of Salford’s School of Science, Engineering and Environment, and co-founder of WaveTrace, a psycho-acoustic consultancy that observes how humans react to auditory stimuli.

The specific assignment was to examine how a driver’s choice of music impacts the driving range of their Kia EV6, pegged at 328 miles (499 km in Canada) to a charge on the European WLTP combined cycle. Mind you, the WLTP doesn’t account for weather in its tests, so it’s not all that thoroughly accurate but — since this is a music- and physical-reaction-based study, the WLTP will suffice.

Test subjects, who were first-time EV drivers, were given an EV6 GT-Line S trim, complete with the strongest speaker system in the lineup. They were also given a set playlist and rigged up with a device that recorded their biometric measurements, including skin temperature, sweat, pulse, and heart-rate variability, and dispatched on an 18-mile (29-km) route.

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Dr. Williams noted over the two-day test period that classical music yielded more range from the drivers that listened to it, where higher-tempo music reduced range. Putting on Beethoven, for example, resulted “in a driving style that is composed and level-headed […] Test participants drove up to four times more efficiently while listening to Beethoven” than some other tracks.

More specifically, the trial concluded that the classical music on the setlist – Beethoven’s rather long “Symphony No. 9” was used – accounted for about 7.7 per cent of the EV6’s range expenditure, despite (because of its length) making up 32.5 per cent of the playlist. The Weeknd’s up-tempo pop hit “Blinding Lights,” which clocks in at 171 BPM, versus Beethoven’s 111 BPM, made up 10.4 per cent of the playlist, but accounted for 23.6 per cent of the range used up. And a soul ballad – in the form of Adele’s “Hello,” 79 BPM – was basically neutral, making up 15.3 per cent of playlist and chalking up 13.3 per cent of the range used. (It’s the slowest, yes, but also has some more emotive crescendos.)

Well, if there’s two things that don’t lie, it’s numbers and hips (according to Shakira, anyway, who you should not be listening to if you’re low on battery). So while it’s easy to get enthusiastic about your favourite fast-tempo song, try and do it only when you’ve got a full battery, if you want to go further.