Electric vehicles (EVs) offer so many advantages to gas-powered vehicles, like increased power, quietness, a more planted ride, as well as a better choice for the environment. Unfortunately, the common misconception that EVs don’t work in the winter is a little too common on the Internet. In today’s blog post, we’ll talk about what happens to an EV in conditions below freezing. We will also explore how other countries whose climate is like Canada’s, like Norway, lead the world in EV sales. Finally, we’ll provide you with some tips on how best to operate your EV in the cold.
What Is the Problem?
When EVs are subject to temperatures 4.5 degrees Celsius and below, it’s harder for the drive system to extract electricity. Therefore, some EV owners have reported a 40% loss in EV range. The decrease in range can also be explained by the cold temperatures limiting the battery’s ability to recharge through friction from the brakes.
However, as the vehicle’s electrical components warm up, its range can increase. Because of the battery’s position in most EVs, they have a low centre of gravity, making handling in wintery conditions great, especially if all four wheels have power.
However, when fresh, deep snow is present, it does take a considerable toll on EV range. The snow creates resistance for the electric motors, making them work harder to move the same distance.
Norway is a leader in the world in EV adoption. As of March 2021, 84.8% of new car registrations were battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. Norway’s climate is like Canada’s, with an average winter temperature of -6.8 degrees Celsius. They have adopted electricity for all forms of transportation, including trams, trains and e-bikes.
Our EV market has not grown the way Norway’s has for two main reasons: 1) We do not have the federal and provincial tax credits to promote the sale of EVs, and 2) the area of our country is many times larger than Norway, making it difficult to build the necessary infrastructure for EVs from coast to coast. This all suggests that temperature has less of an effect on EV buying than the Internet may suggest.
Tips for Driving an EV in the Winter
- Precondition the car.
- Like a gas-powered vehicle equipped with a block heater, it is extremely helpful to precondition your car.
- Just plug your EV in, no need to turn the car on. The charging cable will help warm the battery and its electrical components.
- Some EVs, such as the Jaguar I-Pace, allow you to control climate and comfort features from an app before entering the vehicle.
- Take it easy when driving.
- When driving an EV, especially in cold weather, drive steadily. Increased acceleration in the cold can lead to a significant decrease in range.
- Adjust climate settings to stay only as warm as needed to conserve power.
- Use the heated seats more than the heater. They will physically warm you up faster with less power than the climate control.
- Once your EV is warmed up, you can return to normal driving and climate control settings.
- Note that features like one-pedal driving, something the Nissan Leaf has, may not be available in the cold.
- Make sure you have the range
- Preconditioning the vehicle will ensure you have the range to get you where you need to go.
- However, if you can’t charge your vehicle beforehand, a good rule of thumb is to make sure you have double the range you need. This will help you avoid range anxiety.
- If the battery runs out, you can leave your car off for 30 minutes to an hour. Then you should be able to start it to drive a few more kilometres in case you don’t quite make it to a charger.
Cold Weather Worries Do Not Equal EV Worries
Even though your EV will lose some of its juice in cold weather, you can still confidently buy an EV. The EVs on the market in 2021 show a smaller loss than what the older models used to have. If you are properly prepared, have read the owner’s manual, and follow our simple tips, you’ll be well on your way to easing those winter worries, saving on fuel, and helping the environment.