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How does cold weather affect an electric vehicle?

With temperatures plummeting, you might find that your electric vehicle struggles for range. Lithium batteries are negatively affected by cold weather. When the temperature drops below freezing, the vehicle will lose 10-20% of its theoretical range. We say theoretical because it assumes that all other things remain equal, however, they often don’t.

Bad weather brings the need to use the heater, which can severely sap the battery (remember that there is no engine to keep the cabin warm, so the heater takes relatively more power to operate.)

The battery itself needs to be brought up-to-operating temperature, and the chemical reaction within the cells is slowed down.

If you’re pushing through puddles and high winds, there are more forces impacting your vehicle, trying to slow it down.

If traffic is affected because it’s now stop-start, you’ll use more power (however, if traffic is simply impacted by dropping the average speed closer to 25mph, you’ll actually gain range because 25mph is around the optimal speed for an EV).

If you haven’t checked your tyre pressures, they’ll be lower than summer due to the cold weather, and if that means they are under-inflated, there will be more rolling resistance on the road. Check your tyre pressure every month or so.

How do you get the best out of the battery’s range in winter?

  • Let your car warm up while it’s still connected to the charger. This includes preconditioning the battery, and getting your seats and cabin warm.
  • Keep your EV in a garage
  • Time your journey to avoid traffic, if possible.
  • Use Eco mode.

Darren has owned several companies in the automotive, advertising and education industries. He has run driving theory educational websites since 2010.

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