Everything you need to know about driving an EV in the colder weather
There’s how to charge it, where to charge it and also understanding that the driving experience is different to the petrol and diesel car you might be used to. But things can get a little bit more confusing in winter. Here’s what you need to know about using an electric car in the colder months.
Can I still use and charge an electric car in colder weather?
Of course you can, is the simple answer. Just like petrol and diesel vehicles, EVs are extensively tested in all weathers and conditions – whether that be close to the Arctic Circle or in the desert.
In fact, many manufacturers pay particular attention to their cold-weather performance, rigorously testing them in some of the harshest climates around – far more severe than we typically get in the UK.
Will using an electric car in winter affect the range?
In a nutshell, yes. Anything with a battery doesn’t tend to perform quite so well in colder temperatures, and electric cars are no different. It’s because batteries use a chemical reaction to take on and release energy and that process slows down during cold weather.
You’ll notice it most when it comes to range, as how many miles you can get from a charge will reduce in the colder months – by up to as much as 20 per cent in the worst instances, though it’s not always as severe as this.
You might also notice that the car doesn’t charge as quickly as it does in summer, because the chargers themselves aren’t able to operate at full voltage quite so quickly.
What can I do to help?
There are a few things you can do in colder weather to improve range. The first is to turn off anything you don’t need that sap energy and reduce the range – as while you want to make sure you’re a comfortable temperature, the heater does not need to be on full blast for a sustained period of time.
Many electric cars are also equipped with a pre-conditioning feature, which allows you to warm up the car’s interior before you get to it. Often controlled via a smartphone app, you can set it for a certain time and pattern, such as if you go to work at the same time every day. If the car is still plugged into an electricity source while you do this, it won’t drain the car’s battery getting the vehicle up to temperature.
Many electric cars are now fitted with heat pumps, too, which is a more effective way of heating up a vehicle’s interior, yet without compromising an electric range.