Electric cars boast excellent efficiency, performance, and versatility, especially when compared to their ICE counterparts. However, EVs are notorious for getting hit with substantial range losses in cold weather. These efficiency blows generate some concern with prospective owners in northern climates. But, there are ways to nullify some cold weather losses and maintain a respectable energy consumption figure.
UK-based YESSS Electrical recently compiled a list of the best ways to increase winter range. Without further adieu, here are the best ways to improve your EV's overall usability in the winter.
Charging Tip: Precondition The Battery
In the dead of winter, preconditioning your battery prior to plugging in can mean much faster DC fast charging times. Since Li-ion batteries like to be relatively warm to rapidly charge or discharge, preconditioning the battery pack before charging gets your EV's battery ready for a speedy charging session.
Some EVs, like Tesla products, have this feature built into the UI, so the battery will automatically warm up before arriving at the station. This feature isn't available in every EV, but if yours is equipped, it'll mean that your car can reach its maximum charge rate much faster.
Charing Tip: Park Inside, If Possible
Leaving your EV sitting out in the cold, especially unplugged, must be avoided at all costs if you want to maximise range. Doing this is commonly referred to as "cold-soaking," and the disadvantages are omnipresent. Besides taking a considerable efficiency loss when driving, DC charge rates will be reduced, and power could be limited too. If you can't park your car inside, try to leave it plugged in so you can at least warm the car with shore power before driving.
Charging Tip: Heat Up The Cabin While Plugged-In
The best way to maximise your charge is to use shore power to heat up your ride directly. Instead of waiting until driving to begin heating the cabin, doing so while charging is the best way to conserve your battery's energy. The best time to do this is around 15 minutes before you leave.
Some EVs allow you to set scheduled departure times, allowing the car to activate the cabin heater automatically. Plus, once the cabin is sufficiently warmed, you can tick down the fan speed while driving to avoid using excess energy.
Range Tip: Check Your Tires
With electric cars (and plug-in hybrids, for that matter), keeping your car's tyres within manufacturer specs is ideal for getting the best range. Since electric powertrains are so efficient, unnecessary friction resulting from improperly inflated tyres will eat into your car's range.
Tesla says that a 6-degree Celsius (10-degree Fahrenheit) drop results in a loss of 1 PSI. This means that once the weather gets cold, checking your pressure is vital to maintain the intended specifications.
Range Tip: Drive Proactively
In the winter, the cold temperatures will reduce your EV's overall efficiency. Keeping this in mind, it's essential to drive especially nicely to account for the losses. This means that instead of driving at 75 mph on the freeway, it might help to tick down your speed to 70 mph.
Cold weather also might adversely affect your vehicle's regen abilities, so anticipating stops is equally important. Overall, if you plan on going on a winter road trip, it's important to consider ways like these to boost your efficiency.
Range Tip: Heated Seats > Cabin Heater
Whether or not your EV has a heat pump, it'll still make a difference to utilise the seat heater over the heating system in cold conditions. Especially if you preheat the cabin while charging, running the cabin heater may be unnecessary. In this case, utilising the seat heater could be a supplemental addition for comfort without the expense of using the entire cabin climate system.