Jan 11, 2022 7:09:05 PM / Brooke Loeffler / Electric Vehicle Winter Driving Tips

Electric Vehicle (EV) Winter Driving Tips

No matter what type of vehicle you drive, Mother Nature always has the upper hand during the winter. Internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, and electric vehicles (EV) both experience cold weather related problems. In recent years, there has been some hand-wringing over EVs in the winter. The truth of the matter is, with a few tips and a little bit of planning and preparation, EVs are a perfectly viable option for cold climates.

Electric Vehicle (EV) Winter Driving Tips

Why The EV Winter Worry?

Because EVs don't have an internal combustion engine to generate heat, their batteries must provide heat for the vehicle's interior. Colder temperatures, increased defroster/defogger usage, and more, create an additional drain on power, reducing your driving range during the winter. How far does winter reduce your driving range?

  • AAA conducted a freezer lab test and found that sub-freezing conditions reduced EV range by 41%.
  • Consumer Reports conducted a side by side test between 2 EVs and found that both lost about 50% of their range.
  • In Norway, where EV sales hit 65% of the market last year, the winter tests look a little more promising. The Norwegian Automobile Federation drove 20 different EVs all the way down to 0% power under winter conditions and found an average of 20% range loss.

Here are a few EV winter driving tips to help you recuperate some of that loss and avoid being stranded on an icy road this winter.

EV Winter Driving Tips

Get an EV Charging App

EV charging app on a smart phone

Downloading a free or purchased app can help you find the most convenient charging stations and plan your trips more efficiently. 

  • Some EV manufacturers (like Tesla) offer their own app. These apps can offer tips or advice specific to your make and model.
  • Read the reviews on your preferred app store to find the best fit for you.
  • You can also find EV apps that help you: pay digitally at the charging station, track weather, and find hotels and restaurants with charging stations for longer road trips.
  • Remember that you will have greater driving range on long trips than several short trips (where the cabin repeatedly cools down and needs to be reheated).

Purchase Options to Look For

  • If you live in an area where winter actually happens, purchase a longer range option. Based on the tests above, you can expect anywhere up to 50% less range during the winter. Even Consumer Reports (which advocates for not buying “more vehicle” than you need) advises:

“EV buyers who drive in colder climates should strongly consider getting a car with a range about double what their daily driving needs are, so they’re not left stranded in a cold snap.”

  • Look for winter or cold weather packages. EV manufacturers are continuously upgrading options to help during the winter months. Click here to see an alphabetical list of manufacturers to see what winter package offerings are out there.

Choose Conductive Heating

  • Conduction (direct touch) is a more efficient heat transfer method than convection (heat moving through air or liquid).
  • To increase your winter driving range, use steering wheel and seat heaters instead of a cabin heater. Your body will heat up more efficiently than by using the cabin heater, and draw less power from your battery life.

Park in a Garage

  • If possible, park and charge indoors during the winter. Not only will this reduce the amount of snow and windshield clearing, but also keep your vehicle and cabin at a warmer base temperature.
  • Remember, it takes less electricity to maintain a temperature than it does to raise it.

Warm Up While Plugged In

  • Here’s where EVs have a distinct advantage over ICEs (no carbon monoxide buildup while warming up!).
  • Start your car and heaters while your car is plugged in before you leave. That way you are using charging power to warm up instead of stored battery power on the road.

Pack A Winter Vehicle Kit

  • Packing a winter kit is a good idea no matter what kind of vehicle you drive. 
  • Click here to see what you should include to keep you safe during emergencies.
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Want an environmentally friendly ice melt to pack in your EV for emergencies and deicing on the go? Nature’s Blend offers convenient packages of highway powered ice melt that is safe for soil, plants, and animals. Cut through ice and restore traction no matter where you are by bringing Ice Slicer Nature’s Blend along for the ride.