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Tips for Driving an EV in Winter Times

A Bmw with winter tires and snowy roads

With more electric vehicles (EVs) lining the dealership lots and roadways, drivers need to take a few things into consideration when choosing an EV over a gas-powered vehicle. EVs offer a lot of benefits, including great performance, quiet handling, and zero emissions. However, they can present some challenges during the winter months. These are easily solves as long as drivers follow a few EV tips for winter driving.

EV Efficiency in the Winter

A car covered in snow

Efficiency in all vehicles drop in the wintertime because of the cold temperatures. But while gas engines feature a 20% reduction in fuel economy, EVs could see a drop of 50% driving range in severely cold weather, which will affect drivers who need to charge their car more often.

EV Tips for Winter - Preconditioning the Vehicle

To counteract the drop in temperature and subsequent drop in driving range, EV drivers need to precondition their vehicle for winter driving. This simply means that drivers need to warm up their EV before driving it--but, it needs to be warmed up while still connected to the charging station. While plugged in, the EV and its battery will warm up via electricity instead of pulling juice, and driving range, from the battery. Preconditioning the vehicle will not only warm up the battery but also the car's interior, which reduces the amount of battery usage needed for temperature adjustments while driving.

Using EV Heat in the Winter

Cars driving on snow with winter tires

One of the biggest drains on an EV during the winter is keeping the cabin environment warm. Drivers are constantly running the heat to remain warm, but this draws power away from the battery, subsequently lowering driving range. In addition to preconditioning the vehicle, drivers can reduce this drain by bundling up before driving and bringing along warm beverages to drink to increase their body temperature instead of continuously turning up the heat.

EV Tips for Winter - Purchase an EV with a Heat Pump

Another way to combat battery drain during winter is to buy an EV with a heat pump system rather than a conventional air conditioning system. Without using electricity from the battery, the heat pump absorbs heat from the atmosphere and compresses it with a refrigerant circuit that increases the cabin heat, allowing warm air to be blown into the car. Drivers and passengers remain warm inside the vehicle thanks to the heat pump system without reducing the battery's range.

EV Tips for Winter - Watching Speed

A Tesla driving in snow surrounded with trees

Slowing down in the winter is not only a good idea because of treacherous driving conditions--slowing down also reduces battery drain. Driving at higher speeds forces the battery to work harder, draining it faster than usual. Driving as efficiently as possible helps to save battery power, which is extra important in the winter.

EV Tips for Winter

Overall, the standard winter driving tips apply to EVs the same as to gas-powered vehicles: buy a full set of winter tires, slow down, anticipate increased braking distance, and more. However, EV drivers should take precautions, such as preconditioning their batteries, during the winter months to preserve battery charge and driving range.