How to get the most from your electric vehicle in winter

Winter electric vehicles

As the temperature starts to drop and the nights get darker, it’s important for EV owners to charge and drive with care.

Electric cars are highly popular all year round but require additional attention during cold bouts because of the potential for range loss due to cold temperatures and slower charge speeds.

Here are our top tips to help keep your car running safely and efficiently during winter.

What are the challenges for electric vehicles in the winter?

Cold weather affects the performance of all vehicles, but more so electric vehicles, which see a significant drop in range and efficiency.

The low temperature impacts the battery capacity of the car, which is an issue given the cold winter seasons in the UK.

The optimal range for an electric car battery is between 40 to 115 degrees Fahrenheit.

This means the vehicle will use more energy and typically charge slower, resulting in a lower battery capacity of up to 41%. The reduced range could see you having to recharge more often or see yourself stuck somewhere with a low battery.

There are some steps you can take to minimise the effects of the cold on your driving experience, however, which we will discuss below.

Pre-heat your vehicle

To prime the battery for cold weather driving

A lot of electric vehicles have mobile apps that enable drivers to access the functions of their cars remotely.

For example, the Vauxhall Mokka e comes with Vauxhall Connect, which allows users to pre-condition their vehicles to a suitable temperature before starting their journey.

Pre-heating the battery can greatly improve its efficiency and actually save energy once on the move thanks to running at an optimal temperature.

Park somewhere warm

To minimise range loss over extended periods

When leaving your EV for extended periods, try to park your vehicle indoors in a garage or storage facility that is temperature controlled.

You could also try to park in areas that face the sun which, whilst rare, are available in certain places. Other useful options include parking your car facing east and using a windshield cover, which can help to reduce frost on the vehicle.

Reduce heater usage

It’s more efficient to heat your seat than your car

If you are running low on range, try to avoid using the heater when driving, as doing so can deplete its energy quickly and reduce its capacity.

Instead, heat up the car’s touch points, like the heated steering wheel or heated seats. These are far more efficient than heating the air in the vehicle.

Keep the vehicle at an optimal SoC

To preserve battery capacity in the long run

Try to keep your vehicle plugged in where you can and top up your battery regularly when driving on longer journeys – this is essential when the commutes get longer and the temperatures get colder.

If you expect to let your car sit for long periods over the winter, try to make sure the battery is maintained at 20% to 80% as this will help to prolong the life of the battery.

The total charge level of your battery is known as the SoC (state of charge).

Don’t worry about charging your electric vehicle in poor weather conditions; the charging stations and vehicle are both built to withstand water, rain, and dust.

Alfred drives a Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus but has his eye on a fully-electric pick-up truck. He'd love an electric Ford Ranger, which should be a real thing in a few years!