Electric Cars in Cold Weather: How to Maximize Range and Performance

It’s certainly hard to ignore the remarkable efficiency, thrilling performance, refined driving characteristics, and low maintenance costs that come from owning an electric vehicle. However, one of the most common concerns of first-time EV buyers relates to how electric cars handle cold weather. Just like a conventional gasoline-powered car, there are a few extra precautions and tips that you can follow to help your EV maximize performance and range when the temperatures dip below freezing outside. Our team at Blue Grass Motorsport is here to help you learn more about exactly how electric cars perform in cold weather.

Audi e-tron Snow

How Does Cold Weather Affect Electric Cars?

One universal truth regarding cars and cold weather is that freezing temperatures can have a negative impact on performance, no matter if you drive an electric or gasoline-powered vehicle. In a gas-powered car, it’s always a smart idea to give the vehicle a few extra minutes to warm up before hitting the road. When driving an EV, there are a few factors to consider if you’re trying to maximize both range and performance.

  • Studies have shown that electric car batteries have reduced range in temperatures below freezing. In fact, one study reported that total driving range fell by 12% at temperatures below 20 degrees and by 41% when the heater was turned on. Take advantage of your vehicle’s heated seats and steering wheel as an alternative to running the heater whenever possible. This means that you need to take extra precautions and charge the vehicle more often than you normally would.
  • Since most of the energy lost in cold weather is spent warming the vehicle up, make sure to keep your car parked in a heated garage and out of the elements whenever possible. Some EVs have a “pre-conditioning” feature that can heat both the interior and the battery while the vehicle is plugged in and charging. Using this feature whenever possible helps to preserve battery capacity and keeps the vehicle ready for the road.
  • It’s important to remember that speed is still the quickest way to drain your battery, even in cold conditions. Driving economically helps to preserve range and keeps you safer in slippery conditions. Even with their sophisticated technology, an electric vehicle is just as prone to traction loss and potential accidents as a conventional vehicle.
  • Plan ahead whenever possible. Since finding and maintaining a charge is especially critical in freezing temperatures, take some time to locate the nearest public charging and/or DC fast charging stations near your home or workplace. Having a backup plan can make a huge difference if a snowstorm strikes or you find yourself unexpectedly low on charge.
  • Consider a set of winter tires. Just like a gasoline-powered vehicle, your EV can certainly benefit from the additional traction, stability, and control offered by a set of winter tires. These tires use a specialized rubber compound that promotes safety and adds grip in freezing conditions. Combined with the fact that many EVs currently available on the market are equipped with all-wheel drive, there’s no reason to fear driving in the winter.

Driving an EV doesn’t mean that you have to stay home when the snow starts to fly. By taking the time to prepare for freezing temperatures and winter weather, you can still enjoy the same efficient and exhilarating experience that you’ve come to expect from your electric vehicle.

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