Ever since the car was created, the challenge to keep them operating in adverse weather conditions has been a problem that has plagued owners, with winter and cold weather being the most common snag. Sure enough, there have been countless methods that people have found over the years to maintain ICE-powered vehicles in less than ideal conditions, but what about EVs?
It's clear that the automotive world is making a rapid shift towards electrification, with most leading auto manufacturers pledging to go entirely electric within the next couple of decades. It's therefore essential for us, the consumers, to learn how to maintain our EVs during inclement weather conditions. In this article, we'll be taking a deep dive to understand the negative effects of cold weather on EVs, and what you can do to keep them at bay.
How Does Cold Weather Affect Your EV?
Before we begin the acclimatization process, let's find out what exactly happens to your EV in the cold.
Research shows that batteries on an electric vehicle produce less power in temperatures below 40 degrees and have the potential to be completely drained within a matter of hours if charged insufficiently. Twenty degrees below and drivers will start to see adverse effects on the range.
According to a study by the Norwegian Automobile Federation, cold weather can reduce an electric vehicle's range by as much as 20% if the car is left unplugged. Colder climates can also lead to slower recharge times compared to warmer ambient temperatures. Another study by AAA saw an EV's range decrease by as much as 41% while driving in temperatures below 20 degrees while using the heater. This, for any EV owner, is a considerable concern, which is why it's pivotal to take the below steps and begin the winterization process.
First things first, you're going to have to re-evaluate your regular charging routine. Think about which part of the day you'll need your car the most. Remember, your vehicle takes longer to charge in cold conditions and can be drained if left unplugged for extended periods. Try to set up a charging routine that will ensure a full charge just before the time of use.
For example, if your daily commute to the office begins at 8 am, set your overnight charge so that it is completed just before your time of departure. This will ensure that your car spends much less time idling unplugged.
Professional mountain climbers do it all the time. The theory is to prepare your vehicle beforehand so that it can perform as efficiently as possible. A simple way to do this is to precondition your vehicle by turning on the heat around 30 minutes before leaving while your car is still plugged in. This will help warm up the battery, allowing it to sustain its charge and improve your range. Additionally, turning up the heat will prevent the car from draining your battery while on the move. Most EVs are synchronized to an app that will allow you to precondition your vehicle as required.
Heat the Seats
Unlike ICE-powered vehicles that generally use waste heat to warm the interior of a vehicle, EVs rely entirely on their battery for this function, and it's quite taxing. As mentioned above, the best way to counter this is by having your cabin nice and toasty before you leave the house so that the battery can focus on range. But, if it's still too cold while driving (and if your car has them) consider using the heated seat and heated steering wheel options to warm you up rather than relying on the heaters. While these ancillary heat options still uses energy from your battery, it's much more efficient than heating the entire cabin.
Keep Her Indoors
This is when you might want to start thinking about getting rid of all that junk in your garage to make room for your vehicle. We are all guilty of giving in to the convenience of parking our cars in the driveway and calling it a day, but for an EV owner, keeping your vehicle indoors could make a world of difference. Remember, warmth is critical, and parking a car inside a garage will allow it to hold its charge much longer and perform more effectively than one that is left out in the freezing cold.
This theory isn't just for when you get home. Be it at your office, at the mall while shopping, or any other place that your vehicle has to idle temporarily, try and look for any opportunity to park indoors.
Check Your Tire Pressure
This advice isn't just for EV owners but any vehicle that uses inflated tires. With that being said, EV owners should be especially careful as the impact of low tire pressure may affect you more. The universal understanding is that every 10-degree temperature decline can reduce tire pressure by one pound per square inch (PSI), and this could have a severe negative impact on range. A study by ExxonMobil concluded that tire pressure is a crucial element in making sure an electric vehicle reaches its maximum range, with the optimal tire pressure increasing vehicle efficiency by as much as 7%.
Choose Eco Mode
The way eco mode works in every vehicle is slightly different, but the concept is basically the same. Eco mode limits and / or cuts off the power supply to non-essential parts of your vehicle in order to give you the highest amount of mileage. Most of the time, this is achieved by reducing the amount of power offered to you while you drive, so, even though you won't be getting the fastest 0-60 time on the planet, it does increase the number of miles you can travel, while ensuring a safer drive.
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