Are Electric Cars Good In Cold Weather?

“Batteries are like humans,” explains Anna Stefanopoulou, director of the University of Michigan’s Energy Institute, in Wired’s “Why Electric Cars Struggle in the Coldand How to Help Them.” “They prefer the same sort of temperature range that people do. They won’t perform at their best if the temperature is below 40 degrees Fahrenheit or above 115 degrees Fahrenheit.

Do EVs lose range as a result of the battery’s reaction to the cold? According to Consumer Reports, the answer is no “Considering Purchasing an Electric Vehicle in a Cold Climate? “Increase your range.” In cold weather, all cars, both petrol and electric, struggle. The battery is drained by the increased quantity of energy required, not by the cold. Any factor that requires significantly more power than usual has an impact on range.

The first step is to obtain a vehicle with as much range as possible. Skip the expensive details and invest all of your cash into the range. Consumer Reports’ senior director of auto testing, Jake Fisher, claims that “We usually advise new-car buyers not to buy more vehicles than they require, whether it’s in terms of seats, cargo space, or towing capacity,” Fisher adds. “However, EV purchasers in colder climates should definitely consider acquiring a car with a range that is almost double their daily driving demands to avoid being stuck in a cold snap.”

While having an EV in a cold region has its issues, living in a cold climate is not a barrier to EV ownership. Good planning will keep your car in good shape and ensure that you have enough range to get where you need to go, no matter what the weather is like.

Is it possible to drive an electric car in a cold climate?

Many new car buyers are learning about the advantages of buying a plug-in electric vehicle (EV), which include:

  • Even after accounting for upstream emissions from electric power, they are cleaner than gasoline alternatives. and
  • Purchase prices can be greatly reduced thanks to federal, state, and/or utility subsidies. They can save thousands of dollars throughout the life of a car by lowering fuel and maintenance costs.

We’re ardent EV enthusiasts here at Drive Electric Vermont because of these benefits, but it’s crucial to understand how cold temperatures might limit range in order to make an informed EV purchase. Additional information is provided below to assist you in selecting the proper EV model for your needs, understanding what choices improve cold-weather range, and optimal charging and driving techniques to get the most out of your EV investment.

Cold weather reduces the efficiency of all types of vehicles, not just electric vehicles. At 20 F, conventional gasoline vehicles typically lose 20% of their fuel economy, according to FuelEconomy.gov. It’s more visible with an EV, and it’s especially worrying for all-electric car drivers who need to know they’ll be able to get to their destinations.

In the winter, keeping the interior of the vehicle warm is frequently the biggest drain on EV range, especially when the outside temperature drops below 15 F. In addition, lithium ion batteries used in EVs perform poorly in low temperatures, resulting in further range decreases.

Thousands of EVs were studied in various situations by the team at fleet analytics business Geotab, who gathered precise data on predicted EV range reductions in cold temperatures. At -4 F, drivers of an average EV may see around half of the manufacturer’s advertised range, according to their research. However, depending on the model, model options, and how it is stored and operated, this might vary greatly. Users can examine the potential cold weather performance of individual models using their online EV temperature tool. The graph below shows the average EV range loss (or gain) over time in comparison to the manufacturer’s official stated range at various temperatures.

Is it true that electric automobiles suffer issues in the winter?

With a plethora of electric vehicle styles and ranges to choose from, more Americans are considering getting one. Aside from range anxiety, one of the most common concerns is how an electric car will operate in high conditions. Should this worry deter a potential buyer from making the switch to an electric vehicle?

The impact on battery chemistry when parked and the drain to maintain battery temperature and deliver cabin heat are the main reasons driving range decreases in cold weather. According to testing by the Norwegian Automobile Federation, cold temperatures limit an unplugged EV’s range by around 20%, and recharging takes longer than in warm weather.

All sap range is used to run the cabin heater, seat heaters, defroster, and other equipment that counteract the cold inside the automobile. When it comes to cold temperatures, we’ve discovered that 20 F and below is when the range truly narrows. (Find out how to make the most of your car’s heater.)

Is it possible to drive an electric vehicle in the snow?

Yes, electric vehicles are suitable for use in the snow. They’re growing better all the time, thanks to the ongoing evolution of electric vehicles and the entry of new models into the market. Winter tires may be beneficial if you reside in an area that is consistently chilly and snow-covered.

Cold weather will effect EVs released in 2022 and later less and less. With each passing year, additional advancements are made, and most electric vehicles are put through rigorous cold-weather testing before going into production.

Is it possible to use a Tesla in the winter?

When it’s cold outside, how long can an EV keep the cabin warm? We discovered the truth. Our Tesla Model 3 can maintain a temperature of 65 degrees for almost two days at most, losing only 2.2 percent of its charge per hour, which is barely less than a gas-powered vehicle.

Is EV charging affected by the cold?

Cold weather might affect your electric car’s operating range, which is one of the most critical performance indicators. In the cold, ions in Lithium-ion batteries have a tougher time moving around, which might reduce the range of your vehicle.

Cold weather has an impact on charging, and your car’s battery prefers to operate within a specific temperature range. If it is extremely cold outside, it is preferable for the battery to warm up first before charging at higher rates. As a result, in the winter, charging may take longer.

The entire process is managed by the car’s battery management system, which preserves and enhances the battery cells’ performance.

As the winter months approach, here are six recommendations for getting the most out of your electric vehicle.

In the winter, are electric automobiles warm?

Everything that happens in a car necessitates the use of energy from somewhere. Heat created by the car’s internal combustion engine helps swiftly heat the inside space in a typical car. At its best, energy recycling!

However, an electric car does not have a heat-generating engine. Instead, it uses electricity to generate interior heat, usually through one or more resistive heating components. Avoid turning on the car’s heating system and you decrease the battery drain. Do you have a good parka? Put it on, grab your hat and gloves, and go behind the wheel.

It’s worth mentioning that some modern EVs use a heat pump rather than resistive materials. These heat pumps function similarly to home heat pumps, transporting waste heat (in this case, heat created by the lithium-ion battery) to the car cabin.

Is it necessary to warm up electric vehicles?

Although electric automobiles do not require “warming up,” several experts recommend that you do it before putting the pedal to the metal. Electric car motors, like other autos, perform best when they are warm.

When it comes to electric vehicles, how long do they last?

EV batteries go through a ‘discharge’ cycle when driving and a ‘charge’ cycle when the car is plugged in. The quantity of charge the battery can hold is affected by repeating this process over time. This reduces the range and time required to charge between trips. The majority of battery manufacturers offer a five- to eight-year warranty. An electric car battery, on the other hand, is expected to last between 10 and 20 years before needing to be changed.

The connection between a battery and an electric motor in a car is surprisingly simple: the battery is connected to one or more electric motors that drive the wheels. When you push the accelerator, the car immediately sends electricity to the motor, which gradually depletes the battery’s energy.

When you lift your foot off the accelerator, the automobile begins to slow down by turning its forward motion back into electricity – this happens more forcefully if you use the brakes. Regenerative braking recovers energy that would otherwise be lost, recharging the battery and extending the range of the vehicle.

In the winter, how do electric automobiles work?

That implies that in cold weather, if your electric car is rated to go 150 miles on a single charge, you’ll probably only get 88 miles before needing to recharge. It will also take longer to charge the vehicle’s battery to full capacity. The regenerative braking feature of an electric automobile, which recovers energy lost during deceleration or halting and delivers it back to the battery, is similarly limited by cold temperatures.

The average driving range reduced by 12% when the car’s cabin heater was not used at 20 degrees, according to the study. The range reduced by 41% when the heater was turned on. Without air conditioning, range declined by 4% at 95 degrees, then dropped by 17% when the interior was cooled. According to AAA, it followed test procedures developed by SAE, an auto engineering trade association.

New battery technology will not require liquid within within the next five years, and they will be less susceptible to the cold. But, for the time being, what can you do when chilly temperatures wreak havoc on a battery’s performance and ability to receive a charge?

Charging in Cold Weather

Above all, don’t let your battery drain too quickly. Make sure you have at least a 20% charge at all times. That reserve will be needed to warm the automobile both inside and out, as well as to charge the battery. Use the extra electricity from your EV while it’s still plugged in to preheat the vehicle before you leave.

Keep your electric car out of the elements by keeping it in a heated garage while not in use. When you’re not at home, try to park in the sun to keep your car warm. To keep it fully charged at home, keep it plugged in. Many electric vehicles offer a pre-conditioning capability that may be activated using a smartphone app. While the vehicle is plugged into the charger, this will heat both the cabin and the battery, preserving battery capacity. Make use of this to prepare your vehicle for the road.

Driving in Cold Weather

Keep in mind that speed depletes the battery as well. The quicker you go, the more your charge is sucked away. To increase battery range, ease off the accelerator. Furthermore, as an automobile accelerates up, its aerodynamic drag increases, necessitating more power to overcome. As a result, it is critical to slow down and drive safely in the cold. Electric automobiles, despite their advanced technology, can spin out on ice and snow just as readily as conventional vehicles.

Many electric vehicles offer a Eco mode that reduces performance to conserve battery life. Selecting Eco mode will help you prolong your range in cold conditions. In addition, certain EVs allow you to alter the regenerative braking feature. Set your regenerative braking to maximum if your car has this capability to transfer more power back to the battery while braking.

The less you use the heater while driving in cold weather, the more range you will have. Lowering the temperature will help you maintain your range. Heated seats and even heated steering wheels are common in electric automobiles, and they use less energy than the heater. In the AAA study, the electric vehicles tested lost only about 12% of their range in the cold when their heaters were turned off, compared to 41% when the climate control was turned on.

When you’re out and about in the cold, having the ability to get a quick charge is essential. Check to see if there are any public charging stations near where you live, shop, or work. Even in frigid temperatures, DC fast charging stations can recharge your battery to 80 percent in 30 to 45 minutes.

Do you want to learn more about charging electric vehicles?

Check out our Ultimate Guide to Charging Electric Vehicles.

Why do electric vehicles perform poorly in the snow?

Despite the fact that today’s electric cars have ranges of up to 500 miles, the lack of charging infrastructure across the country has made range anxiety one of the top concerns among potential EV buyers. As a result, a reduction in driving range is a significant issue. But how much does cold weather affect the performance of electric car batteries? The majority of studies show a double-digit percentage drop, while the exact number varies greatly. According to AAA research, when the outside temperature drops to 20 degrees and the car’s HVAC system is turned on, the average electric vehicle’s driving range drops by 41%. Meanwhile, the Norwegian Automobile Association discovered that in winter circumstances, driving range decreased by only 20%.

Why Winter Weather Affects Electric Cars

Winter weather affects electric car batteries in two ways. To begin with, cold temperatures generate resistance to the chemical processes of the battery, reducing the energy-producing process.

The greater requirement of functioning in frigid temperatures, however, takes the brunt of the toll. Driving in cold weather necessitates extra power, especially when it comes to keeping the vehicle warm. When driving a gas-powered car, the engine generates heat, which can be channeled into the cabin when the weather is chilly. Most electric cars rely on their batteries to power energy-intensive resistance heaters in the absence of an engine (although some models now use more efficient heat-pump style heaters).

Other, less obvious power demands arise during the winter season. Less daylight demands headlights to operate longer, for example, and lower temperatures might lead to greater condensation on a car’s glass that will call for defogging. Less power going to the motor means more power going to other parts of the car.

Are Electric Cars Good in the Snow?

Getting used to the cold is only one part of driving in the winter. The other is driving on icy or snow-covered roadways.

Electric vehicles used to be thought of as less powerful cars that you wouldn’t want to drive anywhere but a perfectly clean stretch of road. Those days are no longer with us. After all, completely electric pickup trucks are now available. Electric automobiles, in fact, have a lower center of gravity than gas-powered vehicles since their batteries are normally situated under the floor, which can result in superior handling.

“Electric car owners I have talked with have assured me that their electrics handle winter easily, said John Paul, AAA Northeast’s Car Doctor. “This is the exact thing that happened to me during my new car evaluations. For example, the Chevrolet Bolt is front-wheel drive, and I found the traction to be comparable to, if not slightly better than, a conventional gasoline car of similar size.”

Paul also tested the Ford Mustang Mach-E in snowy circumstances, finding that the optional all-wheel-drive system performed admirably.

Winter Weather Workarounds

There are a few simple things you can do to optimize your winter electric car driving experience.

  • Make Sure the Battery Charge Isn’t Too Low – About 15 percent to 20 percent of an electric car’s charge capacity is set aside to heat the battery. Before going out, make sure you’re well above that threshold. While the vehicle is still being charged, it’s a good idea to preheat it. While the vehicle is plugged in, many electric cars offer a remote preconditioning capability that heats both the interior and the battery, maintaining battery capacity.
  • Use the Heat Wisely Warming an electric car depletes the battery quickly, so make the most of it. Although it may appear rational to heat the entire cabin, this can be inefficient, especially if you’re driving alone. Stick to the heated seats and steering wheels if the vehicle has them to save electricity. “Some electric vehicle owners tell me they only use a little heat and that utilizing the seat heater and dressing a little warmer helps them prolong their vehicle range,” Paul stated. Another technique to get into a warm car while maximizing battery range is to precondition the cabin while the car is plugged in and charging.
  • Keep your car in the garage – Batteries work best in cool conditions. Keeping your car out of the cold allows the battery to charge more quickly and maintain the charge for longer. Furthermore, because it takes less energy to keep a car warm than it does to get it warm, the battery will not be stressed when the cabin temperature is raised.
  • Inflate Your Tires – This is something that all drivers should do all year, but it’s especially vital in the winter. In colder weather, the air in your tires compresses, causing air pressure to drop. The most efficient driving is only possible with fully inflated tires.
  • Use Eco-Mode – Many modern electric cars have an eco-mode that enhances driving range by lowering the vehicle’s energy consumption.
  • Switch to Winter Tires – If you’re still worried about driving over snow and ice, Paul recommends concentrating on the component of your vehicle that meets the ground rather than the source of power. “Your winter driving experience can be greatly improved with the addition of four winter tires, just as it can be with any vehicle,” he stated.

So, Are Electric Cars Good in Winter?

What we require and desire from our automobiles differs from person to person. However, AAA cautions drivers not to dismiss electric vehicles only because of winter difficulties. At worst, driving them at this time of year necessitates a little extra forethought.

It’s also easy to overlook the influence of cold weather on lead batteries found in gas-powered automobiles. You wouldn’t, though, postpone driving in the winter because you’re afraid the battery will die. (Neither should you; if you don’t drive regularly, your car battery will lose its charge.)

Furthermore, as technology advances, battery capacity and driving range become less of an issue. Some electric car businesses, for example, are increasingly employing energy-efficient heat pump systems.

Finally, Paul points out that the reduction in driving range does not happen overnight. “Yes, range changes in the winter, but it does so gradually, much like the weather.” You become accustomed to the change in range when the outside temperature drops from summer temperatures in the 80s to fall temperatures in the 50s and winter temperatures in the 20s.”

For more information on these futuristic automobiles, go to AAA’s Electric Vehicle page.