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Driving an electric car in cold weather – what you need to know

Two of the coldest countries in Europe, Norway and Sweden, are currently leading the way in electric vehicle (EV) adoption in Europe according to Electromaps. A clear indication that driving an EV in cold weather works.

You may have heard that electric vehicles (EVs) can be less efficient in cold temperatures. So, why are EVs affected by the cold and what can you do to maximise range? 

How do cold conditions affect electric vehicles?

Electric vehicles are usually powered by lithium-ion batteries which are sensitive to temperature. The batteries work best at a temperature range between 20 and 40 degrees Celsius. Colder conditions affect the efficiency of the battery because the chemical reaction used to create energy slows down.

Extremes of temperature won’t affect your battery in the long term, but you should be prepared for some performance changes in cold weather. So, what does that mean for EV drivers?

  • Charging may be slower – because the battery isn’t working at optimal efficiency you should allow longer to charge your car. If you’re charging away from home, charging when the battery is already warm will help to speed up charging time. 
  • Reduced range – charging network Osprey says that drivers can expect a reduction in range in cold weather. Most UK journeys are under 30 miles, but for longer cold weather trips it is important to plan your charging. Where possible, you should also set out with a well charged battery.  

7 tips to maximise EV range in cold weather

1. Turn on eco-mode – this will help the car perform more efficiently and prolong range

2. Pre-heat the car, while it is plugged in – this will pre-condition both the car and battery and ensure the pre-heat doesn’t deplete the battery before you set off

3. Use heated seats not the heater – heating people, not the entire vehicle cabin conserves energy

4. Check manufacturers’ advice – manufacturer websites often provide excellent model specific information on driving your car in weather extremes  

5. Plan for a charging stop on long journeys - ensure you plot the best route, inclusive of latest traffic conditions, and plan ahead for a charging stop as your range will be reduced

6. Adapt your driving style to the conditions – just like a traditional combustion engine car, you need to adjust your driving style for winter conditions. Avoid harsh braking and acceleration and allow for longer braking distances.

7. Think about your tyres - Some drivers also choose to change to grippier all weather tyres for the colder months to ensure better road holding. Whatever you choose, check your tyres and ensure the tyre pressure is correct.

And there is a real positive to having an EV in the winter...

You’ll never have to scrape your car windscreen again. Most electric vehicles have the ability to pre-heat via an app, so you can get straight into a warm, defrosted car. The pre-heat is a favourite feature amongst EV drivers and makes those freezing winter mornings just that bit more palatable.

Interested in an electric car? ElectriX is here to help

ElectriX is an EV specialist, powered by LV= General Insurance, we make it easy to switch to electric. We offer business contract hire and salary sacrifice, plus personal leasing solutions. And to make it even simpler, we can package the car, cover and charger.

Find out more about ElectriX here.

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