How to Drive an EV in Cold Weather and Snow

Posted by Marketing on Dec 01, 2020 05:00 AM

Blog_EV Cold WeatherAs the seasons change and temperatures drop, there are a few things to know about driving an EV in the cold weather and snow.

Did you know that 17% of car crashes in the United States happen in winter conditions? When the roads get covered with ice and snow, drivers need to be extra careful behind the wheel.

In addition to higher safety risks, cold weather presents efficiency issues for electric car owners. Low temperatures, such as 40 degrees or below, can decrease the driving range for EVs by 40%.

If you drive an electric car and charge it at home, there are ways you can mitigate the issues that come with harsh winter conditions.

Maintain personal safety and an energy-efficient EV by following these guidelines:    

Keep your battery warm

EV batteries have to work harder in the cold, which is why they drain quickly in extreme temperatures. When you turn your car on after a long, frigid night, the battery will use more power than usual to warm itself up, meaning less energy gets put toward driving.

To avoid losing power, make sure you’re plugging in your EV as much as possible. According to Wired, your battery should always be at least 20% charged at all times during the winter. Other ways to help the battery remain warm include cleaning ice and snow off your car and parking in the sun whenever possible.

Bundle up

Saving battery power is easier when you rely less on your EV’s air conditioning system. Rather than turning up the heater to its highest setting, keep it on low and simply wear warmer clothes while driving. Bringing along a thermos filled with hot coffee or tea will help warm up your body as well.

Watch your speed

There are two reasons why you shouldn’t drive fast during the winter. For starters, the conditions are more treacherous. Roads can be slippery and your field of vision can get blocked by the rain, snow and fog, increasing your likelihood of losing control and getting into an accident.

Secondly, higher speeds force your battery to work harder, which sucks more range out of them. As discussed, saving battery power is extra important in cold weather. So to remain efficient, avoid driving on highways if you can, but if you must, try to keep your speed below 65 miles per hour. 

Precondition your car before driving

Another best practice for avoiding winter range loss is preconditioning. When your car is plugged in, you can start warming up the battery so that it isn’t cold by the time you start driving. This system can also increase the temperature of your car’s interior, making those chilly morning commutes more bearable. Since your car is being heated with the power of a charging unit, you can save the battery’s energy for driving.

Many EV models have an app or key fob that’ll allow you to initiate preconditioning remotely. Plus, you can set up recurring departure times, so the car knows when it should start heating itself up.   

Consider winter tires

While all-season tires are a convenient option for many, certain EV drivers will benefit from tires that are designed to withstand winter conditions. If you live in an area with frequently low temperatures, equipping your car with winter tires will promote safety and efficiency.

Keep in mind, electric cars tend to be quite heavy, making them tougher to handle in slippery conditions. Winter tires will provide you with maximum grip when driving on snow-covered roads, so you can worry less about spinning out or getting stuck.     

Purchase an EV with a heat pump

Heat pumps use less power than conventional air conditioning systems, which makes them especially helpful over the winter. In 2013, Nissan was the first brand to introduce this technology, and now, many car brands are including heat pump systems in their EV models. 

Heat pumps work by absorbing heat from the atmosphere and compressing it with a refrigerant circuit. This exchange increases the cabin heat, allowing warm air to be blown into the car. Without consuming electricity from the battery and reducing driving range, a heat pump system raises the temperature in your car, making it a more efficient option when cold weather strikes.  


If you want to learn about more best practices for EV owners, connect with us at Webasto today!

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Topics: Level 1 Charging, Level 2 Charging, EV Charging, Electric Vehicles, EVs and Weather