HomeTechnologyNewsHow cold weather affects electric cars

How cold weather affects electric cars

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -


Electric car charging in winter snow
Kaca Skokanova / Shutterstock.com

If you’re considering buying a new electric car (EV), you probably have a lot of questions. Or, if you just bought one and are worried about the cold winter months, you’re probably wondering, “how does cold weather affect electric cars?” And while reports vary on the subject, cold weather will take its toll on any vehicle.

Electric vehicles are getting better with each new release, but range anxiety is still a problem for many customers or prospects. And, as you’ve probably read online, cold weather will negatively affect the range of your electric vehicle.

The cold, hard truth is that when temperatures drop to or below freezing, gas and electric vehicles will feel the difference. However, this is more of a concern for EV owners, and here’s what you can expect and know.

Can electric cars handle cold weather?

electric car driving in snowy mountains
Mauricio Fabbroni / Shutterstock.com

One of the biggest questions we see online is whether or not electric cars can handle cold weather. And as we all now know, of course they can, or they wouldn’t be in the way. That said, the battery inside your EV doesn’t perform as well in the cold, causing charging times and driving range to suffer. Batteries are like humans, and things slow down when it’s cold.

It’s worth noting that it’s not just a cold battery that causes problems. The increased energy required to turn the wheels, run the heater, and start the system reduces the load on the battery, which affects range. Basically, much more electricity is needed to maintain optimal battery and cabin temperatures. This adds to the slow chemical reaction in the battery cells.

Also, electric cars don’t have a gasoline engine to produce heat, so they’ll use more battery power to keep something like your in-vehicle heater running. And on some models, you’ll get heated seats and a heated steering wheel, which contribute to more battery drain than in warmer weather conditions.

One area that people often forget about is the tires. Electric cars are heavy, produce a lot of torque, and usually come with low-friction all-season tires to improve range. And while that’s great, depending on where you live, you may want to buy winter snow tires for the best experience.

You can also expect reduced speeds while charging the battery, especially if the vehicle is outdoors. Tesla preheats the battery while driving to a supercharging station with navigation to help increase charge times. So while electric cars are perfectly fine in the cold, expect less battery range.

How much rank is lost?

Electric Car Dash Range Meter
Southworks / Shutterstock.com

According to AAA, cold weather can reduce the range of your electric car by up to 40%. So a new EV with a range of 279 miles will only come close to 167 miles per charge. However, this is an extreme example. Most electric cars don’t lose even remotely close to 40%.

In reality, the average autonomy lost depends on several factors. In general, you can expect a drop of around 12-15%. For example, an EV with a range of 279 miles could drop to around 245 miles in severe winter conditions. And while that’s not great, it’s certainly not bad.

The amount of range lost also depends on the vehicle itself, the model, the battery configuration, and additional features such as heated seats. Another factor is storage. If you keep an electric car in a garage that doesn’t get that cold, it’s easier for the battery to warm everything up before you hit the icy streets.

And for everyone who hates electric vehicles, we see something similar with gasoline vehicles. According to the US Department of Energy, internal combustion engines have 12% worse fuel economy at 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

Some electric vehicles withstand the cold better than others

Tesla driving in the snow
Volha-Hanna Kanashyts / Shutterstock.com

A recent study of automatic recurring tried several top models and saw very different results. As mentioned above, some electric cars handle the cold better than others. For example, the Ford Mustang Mach-E loses over 30% of its range in sub-zero temperatures, but select Tesla vehicles only lose about 5%.

Tesla Model Y and some other electric vehicles have a built-in heat pump, which helps maintain ideal temperatures while driving and while charging. Tesla’s heat pump captures heat from the engines and cabin, circulates it throughout the cabin, and can heat car batteries. This results in improved range and better heating.

car conducted a test with several different makes and models, with and without a heat pump, while using the heater and found that most electric vehicles lose “up to 20% of their range” during the winter. Tesla’s Model Y did well in testing. Basically, it varies from vehicle to vehicle.

How to improve EV range in the cold?

F-150 Lightning Charging at home

Fortunately, there are several things potential homeowners and buyers can do to minimize losses or improve the overall situation. The most obvious answer is to buy an EV with a larger battery and extended range. Models with extended range battery packs will be your friends in the winter.

However, not everyone can afford the highest trim level on a vehicle, but that doesn’t mean you’re left out. Another option is battery “preconditioning,” which many Tesla models do automatically.

For one thing, charge and store your electric vehicle in the garage for best results. Owners can then precondition the car at home before leaving in the morning. You can do this by starting the car ahead of time before wandering out in the cold. That way both the batteries and the cabin (climate controls) can reach ideal operating temperatures while it’s still plugged in.

Owners can also take advantage of regenerative braking in the winter, use battery-friendly “eco modes,” use heated seats instead of heating the entire cabin, and drive sensibly. Aggressive driving and rapid acceleration will consume more battery power, so keep that in mind.

All said and done, don’t worry too much about the cold. Unless you have a very long commute or a model with a very short range, your habits shouldn’t change much. Also, everyone preheats their car in the winter anyway. Right?


- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
Stay Connected
[td_block_social_counter facebook="#" manual_count_facebook="16985" manual_count_twitter="2458" twitter="#" youtube="#" manual_count_youtube="61453" style="style3 td-social-colored" f_counters_font_family="450" f_network_font_family="450" f_network_font_weight="700" f_btn_font_family="450" f_btn_font_weight="700" tdc_css="eyJhbGwiOnsibWFyZ2luLWJvdHRvbSI6IjMwIiwiZGlzcGxheSI6IiJ9fQ=="]
Must Read
- Advertisement -
Related News
- Advertisement -