Are Electric Cars Good In The Winter?


As electric cars grow more and more popular, more concerns about electric cars are popping up. For those who live in cold and snowy areas, how well these cars perform in the winter is a huge concern.

Are electric cars good in winter? Electric cars do extremely well in the winter thanks to having a lower center of gravity, instant peak torque, advanced active thermal management systems, advanced traction control software, and oftentimes all-wheel drive.

If you live in a very cold and snowy area, owning a car that can help you survive those cold months is crucial. Many people turn towards all wheel drive and four-wheel drive vehicles in order to help them manage the snow and ice. In addition, many people buy snow tires that they can put on during the winter months.

For those who live in very cold areas, having cars that are capable in the winter is an absolute necessity. Whether you are trying to get to work, get to the grocery store, or just drive around or out of town, you need a car that can reliably and safely get you from place A to place B. Electric cars are a great choice for winter driving!

Why Electric Cars Are Good In The Winter

So, why exactly are electric cars good in the winter? There are a couple of major reasons why. The very first is thanks to the way that components are placed in the car. In an internal combustion engine, you usually have the engine mounted under the hood in the front of your car.

In an electric car, your battery pack, which weighs a ton, runs underneath the length of the car. Putting this large weight underneath the car, shifts the center of gravity quite a bit. This significantly improves handling and also makes the car less top heavy which reduces the likelihood of a rollover. 

The second big advantage is that electric cars usually have advanced active thermal management systems. The goal of these systems is to maintain the cars temperature even when not being driven. This means keeping the battery itself warm but also things like having your windows already defrosted before you even get into the car or having the cabin warm for when you get in.

You also have the benefit of instantly having heat coming out of your vents as opposed to having to wait for the engine to warm up in an internal combustion engine. You can also utilize these active thermal management systems while your car is plugged in. That way everything can be warm and ready to go without having any effect on your cars range.

The third big thing doesn’t apply to all electric cars, but a good majority. That is all-wheel drive. This allows for power to be supplied to all four wheels on the car as opposed to only the front two or only the back two. This helps a lot in low traction environments. Snow and ice can be one of the trickiest terrains to safely drive in. Having all-wheel drive helps prevent you from sliding and greatly helps improve handling.

In addition to all-wheel drive, electric cars drivetrains also operate very differently from internal combustion. Depending on your electric cars setup, you could have a single motor that drives multiple wheels or a dedicated motor for each wheel. Having multiple motors allows for very advanced traction control systems. Due to the nature of electric motors, any motor can instantly supply peak torque. As such, any wheel can instantly supply the necessary torque level on a wheel by wheel basis. 

Tips To Optimize Winter Driving In An Electric Car

Is there anything that you can do to make driving in the winter with an electric car even better? There are some things that you can do. The very first thing that you can do is get better tires. Generally, the tires that you get on an electric car, aren’t super great for the snow. Generally, these cars come with tires optimized to have less rolling resistance. This way more energy is conserved. Unfortunately, this also means that you get less traction.

Buying better tires is one thing that you can do to drastically improve winter driving performance in an electric car. These could be winter/snow tires, or they could even just be all terrain tires. Do note that this will have an impact on your cars range. You may even consider having a set of winter tires and a set of summer tires that you switch out when the time comes.

Another thing that you can do to significantly improve your winter driving experience is to keep your car warm and charged as much as you can. Driving in the cold can significantly reduce the range of your electric car. In addition, it takes significantly more power to keep the car warm. Parking it inside of a garage and plugging it in and help protect it from the cold when not being used and keep your charge high so you have the range you need when you are ready to drive.

How Cold Is Too Cold To Drive An EV

So, what exactly is considered an extreme cold temperature? In general, anything colder than 70-80 degrees is suboptimal. Those mild temperatures are the absolute best for cars. In those temperatures everything works the best it can, and you get the most possible life out of your electric car. You don’t have to worry about causing extra stress on your cars electrical system.

So, really anything colder than that will have an impact on your car. Although, the impact is pretty small slightly colder than 70 degrees. Where you really start to see a major effect on your electric car is when you get below 20 degrees. From there, the effects of the cold continue more and more drastically. You will see further and further decreases in your electric cars range. That is largely due to the batteries chemistry being affected by the cold and also by the car having to work harder to maintain the battery at temperature and to keep the interior of the car warm.

It is at these cold temperatures of 20 degrees or below where you can see up to a 40% decrease in the range of your car. That is why, when buying an electric car, it’s always important that you buy a car that has twice the daily mileage that you think you would ever need or more. That way in the cold winter months, even if you’re range is reduced, you will still have plenty for your daily driving. Now, a lot of electric cars are getting 200-300 miles of range, so this is becoming less and less of a concern.

Other Possible Scenarios Where Electric Cars Aren’t Ideal For The Winter

Overall, electric cars are fantastic in the winter. As we’ve mentioned, a lot of the features and technology built into these cars makes them incredibly safe to drive in the winter. With the addition of snow tires, you can drastically improve their snow performance even further. Are there any times that driving an electric car in the winter is sub-optimal?

As we’ve mentioned, electric cars lose range in the cold. They can lose up to 20% of their range in the cold. That means you can’t drive nearly as far on a full charge. In addition, charging takes quite a bit longer than normal. Also, when your car is sitting parked, it will lose more charge than normal in the process of maintaining the battery temperature.

As such, long road trips become less and less convenient in electric cars in the winter. Not only will you have to stop more often to charge your car, but you will also spend more time waiting for it to charge. Depending on your situation this may not be a huge deal but if you want to drive a long distance quickly, it could be a nuisance.

On a side note, electric car technology is constantly improving. While the effects of cold on range are currently fairly drastic, we will likely see technological improvements over the next few years that should negate or significantly decrease the effects of cold. This means that even in the cold, driving your electric car may be no different than driving it in the summer.

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