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Do electric vehicles perform worse in winter?

We can all feel it... winter is here!

As Christmas approaches, so does the cold period which will be around for several months here in the UK. Birmingham may even see a white December, according to some reports.

Throughout 2022, the number of electric vehicles registered in the UK (and across the world) has increased as people and businesses prepare for the 2030 ban. So, how are these EVs going to perform throughout the cold winter?

The Car Takes Charge (literally!)

Any car charger you look to use for your EV can provide its stated power. However, there are a few factors that determine how much power it will accept in order to protect the battery.

To learn more about how electric vehicles charge, read our blog here.

It all comes down to the temperature of the battery. The battery is one of the most important and expensive features of an EV, costing upwards of £5500 to replace. Although it is estimated to last up to 20 years, every step to care for it must be taken.

The charging speed of an EV battery is greatly determined by its temperature. A battery can register under zero degrees, but it is optimal around 40 degrees. The colder the temperature, the more difficult it is to reach optimal temperature. The lower the battery's temperature, the more the range and charging speed will be impacted.

How much range is lost?

The AAA's 'Cold Weather Can Cut Electric Car Range by Over 40%', electric vehicles can lose over 10% of their range in colder weather and this can increase when heaters are turned on.

How can you lessen the impact of cold weather?

  1. To lower the impact of cold weather on your vehicle, park it in a garage or warmer area while it is charging.

  2. Heat up the vehicle while it is charging to maximise the charge you will have.

  3. Tire pressure can also impact the range of any vehicle, as can heavy braking and higher speeds.

  4. Planning ahead can be a real winner! Use routes that will lessen the need for increased braking.

  5. Use 'eco mode' if you can, especially if you are running low on charge.

  6. Turn on regenerative braking. Slowing down and braking will allow the motor to act just like a generator, reverting energy back to the battery.

How are petrol & diesel vehicles affected by cold temperatures?

It's only fair, right? Even though we have come to terms with the downfalls of petrol and diesel vehicles, it's important to recognise their shortfalls in comparison to EVs.

Traditional ICE vehicles take longer to heat up and batteries can often fail.

Any vehicle will be negatively impacted by cold weather due to the increased demand placed on it. Colder temperatures require more energy which in turn can drain the battery.

Short trips will be uneconomical in colder weather as fuel economy drops when the engine is not at its optimum temperature. Also, oil for your engine thickens, and friction increases throughout the engine system leading to the unnecessary burning of fuel.

In summary

Unless you are planning to do excessive mileage every day during the winter months, an EV with around a 180-200 mile range could still suit your needs perfectly.

Plus, every year that passes will see the average range of an EV increasing up to the desired 300-mile range.

  • EVs can perform up to 12% worse in colder conditions, but this can be lessened by parking and charging in warmer areas, using 'eco mode', and heating the car while is it still charging

  • Diesel and petrol vehicles also perform worse in colder temperatures, so don't be put off switching the electric vehicles!


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