Electric vehicles have been around since the late 1800s, in one form or another, but have recently grown in popularity thanks in large part to their low environmental impact and cost savings on gas. But, did you know your electric vehicle may be less efficient during the frigid months of winter?
Plugincars.com reports that a recent survey by PlugInsights, a research firm exclusively focusing on plug-in electric vehicles, shows the operating range on an electric vehicle can be reduced by approximately 25 percent to 50 percent in below freezing conditions, depending on the electric vehicle model. While Forbes reports that 68 percent of U.S. commuters travel 30 miles or less to and from work, based on data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, this can definitely be a problem if you are traveling on longer trips to visit family for the holidays or attending farther work functions.
So what can you do to get more electric car range in cold weather? First, it might be helpful to understand what can cause a loss of range:
Forbes notes, however, that possibly the largest issue with electric cars in cold weather may come with the use of the heater. In an electric vehicle, the heater used to warm the interior is also electrically powered and takes more energy to raise the temperature than that in a gas-powered vehicle. This is because gasoline engines create a lot of heat when running, and that warmth can be collected to warm the cabin.
When the weather is cold, Forbes explains the battery performance of an electric vehicle may be diminished, just like any car battery in freezing conditions, and may make it more difficult to charge. In addition, regenerative braking (a process that recovers energy that would otherwise be lost during braking and sends it to the battery) may be restricted in frigid temps.
Cold weather may affect how far your electric vehicle can go without a charge, but you can do several things to maximize your range. For starters, the U.S. Department of Energy suggests preheating your vehicle while it is plugged in, so the interior warms without digging into the battery’s charge. Once you have done this, Plug In America, a nonprofit chapter of the Electric Auto Association, proposes these other ways to increase your range in cold weather:
Forbes also gives a few other range-increasing suggestions for cold weather, including:
Cold winter weather can reduce mileage or range on any type of vehicle, but it seems to be especially rough on electric cars. While you may not be able to get maximum electric car range as you cruise through the snow or heavy winds, if you follow these simple tips and prepare yourself, you might get a few more miles out of your electric car in cold weather.