By Maggie Hirt, Program Manager, Drive Electric Ohio program at Clean Fuels Ohio
All cars struggle a bit in cold weather due to the increased amount of energy that is required, and EVs are certainly no exception. EV range decreases 10-12% in the winter and up to 40% if the heater is on full blast (American Automobile Association, 2019). This change wouldn’t affect most daily drives, but if you’re one for winter road trips or if you have a longer commute, you might consider EV models with extended range or plug-in hybrids that would allow you to run on gasoline if you run out of charge.
Drivers should also utilize features such as heated seats and steering wheels since these things are much more efficient than running the heating system. If you’re traveling on rough winter roads, you may consider an EV with all-wheel drive, an extended battery pack, and snow tires. Electric vehicles test well in crash and rollover scenarios due to battery weight, making them very safe and suitable for winter driving conditions. While driving with less range is inevitably a factor to consider in the wintertime, here is a list of best practices for restoring or preserving some of that range, published by Drive Electric Vermont (Drive Electric Vermont, 2022):
- Driving Speed
- Reducing travel speed is one of the most effective ways to boost range in any condition. Setting the cruise control and slowing down 5-10 mph can provide an additional 10-20% or more range, depending on the model and conditions.
- Preheat your vehicle
- Warming the cabin of the car while still plugged in means more energy is left in the battery for range. This can usually be controlled with smartphone apps and/or key fobs and generally works best on higher-powered Level 2 chargers.
- Schedule your departure time
- Many EV models will allow you to schedule a departure time that will finish a charging session just before you need to go. This is a great way to get the battery warmed up.
- Staying warm
- Using heated seats and/or steering wheels is usually much more efficient than operating the cabin heat. Some drivers will use a lap blanket or wear jackets and other well-insulated clothing to avoid using the cabin heat on longer-distance trips.
- Tire Pressure
- Cold temps increase the density of air, which commonly leads to lower tire pressures. You can find the recommended tire pressure on a sticker located on the driver’s door jamb. Check the pressure and add air regularly to increase winter efficiency.
- Some vehicles have “eco” or economy modes. Also, following eco-driving principles like accelerating slowly, braking slowly, letting off on the accelerator as you crest a hill, and slowing down will help maximize the use of regenerative braking systems that put energy back into the battery instead of wasting it with mechanical brakes.
Have more questions about electric vehicles? Contact our team!
Jake Schwemlein, Director, Drive Electric Ohio program at Clean Fuels Ohio
Maggie Hirt, Manager, Drive Electric Ohio program at Clean Fuels Ohio
Olivia LoGuidice, Manager, Drive Electric Ohio program at Clean Fuels Ohio
Braedyn Dorn, Program Assistant, Drive Electric Ohio program at Clean Fuels Ohio
We also recommend utilizing these EV resources:
Drive Electric Cincinnati Facebook group
Drive Electric Northeast Ohio Facebook group
Drive Electric Dayton Facebook group
“Electric Vehicles in Winter.” Drive Electric Vermont
“Cold Weather Issues for Electric Vehicles in Alaska.” Alaska Center for Energy and Power
“AAA Electric Vehicle Range Testing” American Automobile Association