Turtle Mode in Electric Cars | What is it?

Turtle Mode in Electric Cars

If you own or have driven an electric car, the car likely had a few fool-proof ways to get you to pay attention to it when the driving range has gone down significantly. From Nissan Leaf, Chevy Bolt EV, Hyundai Ioniq Electric, and even the most premium cars like Teslas and Lucid vehicles to have this feature to ensure no further damage occurs to the vehicle.

What is Turtle Mode in EV's?

If you boil it down to just one thing, Turtle Mode is a mode in which the car is significantly slowed down in terms of available power, for the sole purpose of getting you to pull over and charge. That’s it.

The wording can vary across different electric vehicles, ranging from “Reduced Power Mode”, “Driving Power Reduced Mode” to “Turtle Mode Enabled”.

How Turtle Mode Gets Turned ON in EV's

There’s no hard set of rules for when exactly Turtle Mode in electric cars gets activating. The rule of thumb for getting this mode to turn on is to drive the car below 10% state of charge, often below 5% to significantly reduce power availability (thus saving the remaining energy).

Tesla low on battery towed away
CREDIT: caranddriver.com shows Model 3 suffering major battery failure

Is turtle mode GOOD or BAD?

A great question, and it can be answered with YES, but it quickly turns into NO if the following is not observed.

The electric vehicle turns this mode ON to preserve the life of the battery by not draining down to complete 0%. If you were not aware, driving down even lithium-ion batteries CAN cause damage and sometimes, permanent damage that can result in needing a battery replacement (very expensive).

In some rare instances, some electric vehicles have been known to completely shut down while having a few percent remaining on the battery. This is often a battery management system problem and can be corrected fairly easily by taking the vehicle to the show for recalibration.

Examples of EV's when Turtle Mode is turned ON

The 2021 Hyundai Ioniq Electric has Turtle Mode turned on when the vehicle reached sub 7% battery status. The power was reduced but you can still drive the car at higher speeds. It was not until it was below 5% when power really started to take a toll.

One of our original electric vehicles was the 2017 Chevy Bolt EV which is one of the best EV’s to buy, even today in 2022 (as of the time of this writing). Once the vehicle reached the last bar on the battery gauge, “Propulsion Power is Reduced” message displayed and indicated range to empty also went blank.

Lastly, in the 1st gen Nissan Leaf, since the vehicle comes with 12 battery bars in total, you need to take the vehicle down to less than 1 for the “Motor Power is Limited” mode to be turned ON and the vehicle giving you not much more distance before it stops completely.

What's the average cost of battery replacements for common EV's?

The cost of a new battery for a Tesla Model 3 costs around $16,550 and with the bigger batteries for the Model S or X easily costing upwards of $30,000.

A similar price goes for the Chevrolet Bolt EV where the battery costs on average just shy of $17,000, however with the Bolt EV nowadays, you can get the replacement covered under the factory warranty due to their batteries having problems in the first place.

Below is a recent video I did where I took a Hyundai Ioniq Electric (2021) from 100% down to 5% on the highway and “Turtle Mode” was turned on at around 6% state of charge. See video below: