Are electric vehicles affected in the winter?

Electric vehicles in winter

As the winter weather draws nearer, we are being urged to drive with caution. Freezing temperatures not only bring snow and icy conditions, they can also have an effect on electric vehicles. Electric vehicles are heavily impacted by the colder weather, this however is not completely true. They are affected in some ways, but not to the extent that they shouldn’t be driven in winter. Find out our helpful tips for driving electric vehicles in the winter.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN ELECTRIC VEHICLES GET COLD?

Thankfully, driving an electric car in winter is not as worrying as you might think. The most common question asked by non-EV users is “what happens when electric vehicles get cold?”. We would love to say that nothing happens just like a standard internal combustion engine (ICE) car, although they are built completely differently which means that certain parts are affected.

RANGE

When electric vehicles are used in the colder months, the biggest downfall is the range reduction. However this is a common misconception for most people. It’s important to understand that electric vehicles do not lose range due to the cold weather. The loss in range is due to the additional power demands to heat the car up and keep it in operation. As electric vehicles do not have an engine to produce heat to warm the car, the battery will power other means to help the car instead. This is why most EV drivers will see a lower mileage range. 

Typically an electric vehicle will cover around 20% less miles in colder weather in comparison to warm, sunnier days. This is because the lithium-ion batteries are temperature sensitive. Mobile phones and laptops also suffer with the same issue!

The way we like to think about it is, if you think of an electric vehicle as a human. When we get cold, we probably aren’t as productive as we should be, and that’s not even to mention how long it takes some of us to get out of bed on a cold day!

REGENERATIVE BRAKING

Regenerative braking is the term used for when an electric car slows down, and energy is converted into additional range for the car to use. The cold weather will impact this slightly. The vehicle will not be able to recoup range as quickly as it normally would due to the increased amount of power needed to heat the car.

CHARGING

We all know someone that will run the risk of driving on basically an empty tank, whether it be an electric car or a conventional combustion engine car. However, this is something that we highly recommend doing when you have an electric vehicle. We would also recommend leaving at least 20% charge in the vehicle. Starting the car up in freezing temperatures will mean that it will take a lot more power to get the car going. Therefore it isn’t always great to rely on being able to get to a close, nearby charger to get you out of trouble!

A handy tip to remember when charging your vehicle up is to make the most of warming your car up whilst you charge. It’s advantageous to keep the battery running and warm up the interior of the vehicle before you set off as this will save you miles of range. If you’re lucky enough to rent or even own a Tesla you could be staying toasty inside your home. You can power up your vehicle with the app remotely.

Car charging in winter
Tesla in winter

HOW TO PREPARE YOUR ELECTRIC VEHICLE FOR DRIVING IN THE WINTER

As Greenflag suggest, the best way to avoid a breakdown in the winter is to prepared. With our easy guide below, you’ll be able to navigate your way through the wintery months with your EV intact.

Check the tyres

Even when driving an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle, it is vital to check the tyre pressure and the tread of the tyres. To avoid any unnecessary breakdowns and accidents it is important this is done before every journey. Especially during the winter!

Expect a lower mileage range and plan your route for emergencies

As we mentioned previously the range will change slightly according to the weather and external temperature. It is important to ensure that any EV drivers plan their route ahead of the journey, and incorporate any close charge points in case of an emergency ‘fuel’ stop.

Maximise the range you do have

We are not saying that your normal mileage range will be drastically slashed, but the cold weather may cause you to notice a small dip in range. Using your range economically will make the most of your ‘fuel’. Maximise your use of regenerative braking, keep your speed economical, and try to only use energy to heat the car up when charging. 

If your EV has an eco mode option, this is also key to preserving your battery range! 

Carry essentials for an emergency

We wouldn’t recommend turning your car into a second wardrobe. The additional weight will cause a drop in range. We would say it is essential to bring  the following items:

  • Extra clothing
  • A blanket
  • A torch
  • Food supplies

The usual winter pre-checks

Come rain or shine, it is vital to undertake a windscreen wiper check. All drivers need to have perfect vision whilst driving, and ensuring your wipers are up to standard is something that should always be checked. If you have any previous chips or cracks in your windscreen, now’s the time to get them repaired, as they will only grow when the cold weather hits.

It is both illegal and dangerous to drive with broken headlights and brake lights. Checking that all of your lights are working as they should be will help prevent any accidents from happening, especially if there is thick fog, or even heavy snow.

Icy windscreen
BMW in winter

IN CONCLUSION

With the use of regenerative braking and the power of an electric motor, electric vehicles are most probably safer and actually easier to drive in adverse weather conditions. As long as drivers keep an eye on the range, and drive to the road conditions, there isn’t much to worry about.

If you’re debating testing out an electric vehicle to ensure you are comfortable driving it in all weather conditions then give the team at EVision Electric Vehicle Hire a call. 

Select from a range of electric vehicles including:

Short and long term hires can be booked directly on our website. We can’t wait to arrange your car hire today!

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