February 26, 2020
Electric Car Winter Driving Tips
When the winter months arrive, electric car owners need to give extra attention to their vehicles to make sure they’re ready to handle the challenges of the cold season.
The change in seasons can be challenging for electric car owners, especially those living in the colder regions. Whether you’re a first-time electric car owner or an EV aficionado, here’s everything you need to know about conserving the energy in your battery when the temperatures drop.
How Cold Weather Affects Electric Batteries
Cold temperatures can sap electric car batteries, temporarily reducing their range by up to 40 percent, especially when using the heater. For example, if your electric vehicle normally runs for 150 miles on a single charge, you may only be able to drive for around 90 miles before needing to plug in. Planning ahead and using the following tips can help prolong your cars’ battery range during winter conditions.
Tips to Improve Your Electric Car Battery in Winter
If possible, keep your electric vehicle in a garage or other climate-controlled space at home and/or work. A warm battery will always be more efficient
If a climate-controlled space isn’t available, park your car in the sun to keep it a bit warmer
If your vehicle has a pre-conditioning feature, engage it (usually via a smartphone app) before driving. This will heat both the interior and the battery pack, and if the vehicle is plugged into the charger, you’ll use grid energy instead of battery energy.
Plug in your vehicle frequently to maintain a fuller charge
If your car has an “Eco Mode” use it as often as needed
Limit the use of the heater while driving. Bundle up if you can. Use the seat and steering wheel heaters instead, they use less energy than the heater.
Using the regenerative braking system on your EV can increase range
Keep Tires Properly Inflated in EVs
Keeping your tires properly inflated during the winter months can increase your EVs range. As the temperature drops, the air in your tires contracts and the tire pressure falls. Nitrogen-filled tires will hold their pressure better than air-filled, but they will also be affected by cold ambient temperatures. Under-inflated tires create more road friction which reduces the vehicle's efficiency. Tire experts say that for every 10 degrees of temperature drop your tires can lose 1-2 lbs. of pressure.
Drive Slower to Preserve Battery Life
Driving slower than usual is the best way to extend your battery range. This is true regardless of the temperatures, but during the winter months driving a little slower can help offset the battery range you’ll lose to the cold.
Use Regenerative Braking
Regenerative braking uses an electric vehicle’s motor as a generator to convert much of the kinetic energy lost when decelerating back into stored energy in the vehicle’s battery. The next time the car accelerates, it uses much of the energy previously stored from regenerative braking instead of tapping in further to its own energy reserves.
According to a study conducted by a Stanford University student, a proper implementation of the regenerative braking system extends the driving range, improves the braking efficiency, reduces brake wear, and improves energy conservation.
Tri-State is a not-for-profit cooperative of 45 members, including 42 member utility electric distribution cooperatives and public power districts in four states, that together deliver reliable, affordable, and responsible power to more than a million electricity consumers across nearly 200,000 square miles of the West.