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Tips for Maximizing Your EV's Range This Winter

Reduced efficiency in cold weather is normal for all vehicle types一not just electric cars. But if that’s the case, what makes owning an electric vehicle (EV) during winter more complicated than having a fuel-burning car? Let’s find out.

What Happens to Your Electric Car’s Range in Cold Weather?

EVs are typically powered by lithium-ion batteries that operate best at warm temperatures. Under such conditions, many EVs can have more than 200 miles of official range. As the temperature drops, it will be harder for the lithium ions to move between each side of the battery. This will affect the speed at which power is generated.

According to a report by the American Automobile Association (AAA), EVs could lose as much as 41% of their total battery capacity in temperatures around 20°F. Meanwhile, analytics company Geotab reported that EVs could lose as much as half of their manufacturer’s official range at -4°F. The loss depends on factors like the model, model options, and maintenance.

But keep in mind that the cold temperature itself is not the reason why EV batteries lose range. Operating an EV during winter requires more power to keep the car warm, which can cause the battery to work overtime and lead to a reduced range.

Electric Car in Cold Weather

Maintenance Tips to Maximize Your Electric Car’s Range in Winter

An electric car’s decreased performance in winter is a common concern among EV drivers (and future owners). Companies are developing solid-state batteries for better efficiency, but you don’t have to wait for their work to drive your EV confidently when the temperature drops. Here are several practices you can do to maximize your car’s range in winter.

Don't Drain the Battery

Keeping your EV’s battery charged above 15-20% can help keep it warm under extremely cold temperatures without compromising driving efficiency.

Don't Drain the Battery

Use Eco-Mode

Most EVs have an "eco-mode" feature that improves gas mileage and reduces energy consumption by limiting power supply to the driving motor and cabin heaters.

Use Eco-Mode

Slow Down

Driving your EV at high speeds on icy roads not only increases the risk of getting into an accident but also forces the battery to work harder.

Slow Down

Get an EV With a Heat Pump

If you’re looking to get an upgrade or buy an EV for the first time, consider getting one that comes with a heat pump. Compared to the resistive heating element approach found in some EVs, heat pumps are generally more efficient. Many newer EVs use heat pumps because the technology works so well.

Get an EV With a Heat Pump

Inflate Your Tires

Tires contract and lose pressure as the temperature drops, which leads to increased resistance. So check the tire pressure regularly to help maximize your EV’s range.

Inflate Your Tires

Bundle Up

Wearing warmer clothes reduces the need to blast your EV’s heater to its maximum setting, which helps save battery power. Turning the vents on or off and controlling the seat and steering wheel heating settings also consume less electricity than heating the whole car.

Bundle Up

Park In a Garage

Parking in a garage can help keep your EV warm and hold the battery charge longer. It can also help your EV charge faster.

Park In a Garage

Precondition Your EV

You can start warming up your EV while it’s plugged in to save battery power. Some EVs let you initiate remote preconditioning through an app or a key fob.

Precondition Your EV
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Common Concerns When Driving Electric Cars in Cold Weather

If you’re a newbie owner of an EV or just looking to know more about maintaining one, you must take note of how the cold weather can change the way electric cars operate.

Charging Times for EVs During Winter

Charging your EV can take longer in cold weather. Overnight charging can take a couple more hours, while rapid charging can take up to 45 minutes instead of the usual 30.

Charging Times for EVs During Winter

Using Winter Tires

Winter tires are available for EVs. These tires have more grooves for improved traction and can help displace water and improve grip into snow or ice. Consult your owner’s manual to know which tires are suitable for your car.

Specific requirements such as minimal rolling resistance, optimal grip, and sufficient load capacity are some factors that might vary from one model to another.

Using Winter Tires

Charging an EV in Rain or Snow

Electric cars and charging stations are equipped with protective layers to prevent short circuits and current loss, so charging your EV when it’s raining or snowing shouldn’t be a problem.

Charging an EV in Rain or Snow

Driving an EV Through Water

Driving through a submerged road can increase the risk of internal damage for both conventional and electric cars. Drive units and batteries in electric cars are sealed to prevent water damage. EVs also lack an air intake or exhaust, so propulsion won’t be a problem when driving. But while EVs have these advantages, it’s still a good idea to avoid driving when the water level is too high.

Driving an EV Through Water
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Best Electric Cars for Winter

With the growing number of electric car manufacturers entering the market, you’ll want to know which ones offer the best models that can perform well even in the cold. Here are some EVs that come with cold weather options for better efficiency:

Chevrolet Bolt

Although the Chevy Bolt doesn’t come with a heating pump, it does have a resistance heating system. Its LT and Premier trims also have a “comfort and convenience package” that includes a heated steering wheel and seats.

Image source: Chevrolet Pressroom Chevrolet Bolt

Hyundai Ioniq

While the 2019 Hyundai Ioniq Electric’s base SE model does not include a heat pump, this part was made available for its Limited trim level. Unfortunately, this feature was later removed from the 2020 model.

Image source: Hyundai Newsroom Hyundai Ioniq

Kia Niro EV

The Kia Niro EV comes with a cold weather package that includes a heated steering wheel and battery heater, which can save a lot of battery power instead of heating the whole car.

Image source: Kia Media Kia Niro EV

Tesla Model Y

Similar to the Ioniq Electric, the Tesla Model Y also comes with a heat pump. It can also recover waste heat from electronics to improve the efficiency of its heating systems.

Image source: Tesla Tesla Model Y
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EV in Winter

The Bottom Line

While it’s true that an EV’s performance dips during cold days, that doesn’t mean you’ll need to wait for winter to pass before you can take yours out of the garage. It’s perfectly normal for your EV to lose range because of the added power it needs to keep the cabin warm. But don’t worry. By staying dedicated to the battery-saving tips we mentioned, you’re sure to get the most out of your car.

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