Winter is coming! Effects of cold weather on EVs
All EVs suffer substantial range degradation in cold ambient conditions. Battery chemistry slows down when it gets cold resulting in less available energy for the car. If some of the battery’s energy is used to warm itself to a more efficient operating temperature, that too, will reduce the state of charge and the car’s overall efficiency. The exact amount depends on how low the temperature is, and how much energy is needed to warm the batteries and the passenger cabin. By comparison, Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) cars are also less efficient due to cold engine oil and increased idling to warm the car can reduce fuel economy in freezing conditions by an average of 15-20%.
There are a few things EV drivers can do in winter:
Preheating – this heating up your cabin and batteries BEFORE you unplug the car means you’ll have the best range possible before you actually set off because your car won’t need to use power to get up to temperature. Many tech-filled EVs now feature applications that will take care of this for you, and this connected car aspect is bound to become more prevalent as EVs increase in number. This is also known as preconditioning. Adjusting nighttime scheduled charging to stop no more than 30-45 minutes before you typically leave each day is beneficial for better cold weather efficiency.
Use your vehicle’s heated accessories – Heated accessories (steering wheel, seats, etc.) use less energy than heating the entire cabin. In addition, the warmth on your backside and fingers can minimize the amount of cabin heat needed to make you and your passengers feel comfortable.
Eco Mode – Although it’ll make your car a little slower, driving in Eco mode will squeeze out a few extra miles.
Clean off your car before driving – Snow or ice on your vehicle adds extra weight and increases aerodynamic drag by changing your vehicle’s profile, and use more energy. Since EVs don’t produce waste heat from the engine, snow on your hood will stay put if you don’t brush it off before your start your trip.
Keeping the battery topped up – Hello Captain Obvious…but top off the charge whenever and wherever you can.