Does Cold Weather Discourage EV Ownership?

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Does Cold Weather Discourage EV Ownership?

During this season, a common topic of conversation is the chilly weather sweeping the nation, bringing snow, ice, and for electric vehicle (EV) owners, concerns about how the cold impacts their car’s battery and range. The perception that EVs falter in freezing temperatures is a notable deterrent for potential buyers, despite the majority of EV sales being in warmer states like California and Florida. However, experts in the field assert that owning an EV in colder climates isn’t out of the question—it merely requires some foresight and preparation.

The well-known fact among EV owners is that their vehicles’ range diminishes in cold weather, yet the specifics of this impact—how and why it occurs, and the extent of range loss—remain unclear to many.

The Impact of Cold on EV Range

Cold weather indeed takes a toll on electric vehicles (EVs), reducing their driving range. The extent of this reduction varies based on several factors, including the specific vehicle, its usual range under normal conditions, and the use of heating systems. Research from AAA suggests that in cold conditions, EVs can lose about 12% of their range. However, when the heating is turned up to the maximum, this loss can skyrocket to 41%.

Wired magazine provides an analogy comparing batteries to humans, noting that batteries operate best within the same temperature range that humans do. Performance dips when temperatures fall below 40 degrees Fahrenheit or rise above 115 degrees Fahrenheit, preventing batteries from reaching their optimal performance levels.

What Causes EV Range Reduction in Cold Weather?

The decline in range of electric vehicles (EVs) in cold weather is not directly due to the cold’s impact on the battery itself, as highlighted by Consumer Reports. It’s a common challenge faced by all types of vehicles, both gas-powered and electric. The key issue is the increased energy demand during cold weather conditions. It’s the heightened need for power—for heating the interior, using defrosters, and maintaining battery temperature—that ultimately reduces the vehicle’s range. Essentially, any condition requiring the vehicle to use more power than usual can influence its range, cold weather included.

How to Overcome Cold Weather Challenges for EVs?

The key to mitigating range loss in cold weather starts with choosing an electric vehicle (EV) that offers a generous range. Investing in range over luxury features can make a significant difference. Jake Fisher from Consumer Reports advises that for those in colder climates, opting for an EV with double the range of your daily needs is wise to avoid being caught off-guard by a sudden drop in temperature.

Charging your EV in a garage, if possible, and preheating or cooling the car while it’s still plugged in can help preserve battery life. Avoid idling the car to warm it up before driving. Planning your trips to minimize unnecessary use, avoiding high speeds, and refraining from heavy braking can also help conserve range. For heating, opt for seat warmers instead of the car’s heater to save energy. Keeping tires properly inflated and avoiding external decorations that could increase drag are additional ways to maintain efficiency.

Living in a colder climate doesn’t have to limit your ability to own and enjoy an EV. With careful planning and these strategies, you can ensure your EV performs optimally, even when temperatures drop.

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