Wheels in winter – how does the weather affect electric vehicle performance?

As we head into the chillier months here in the UK, we’re finding more people asking about the performance of electric vehicles in the cooler weather and what considerations they need to make when driving their EV.

In truth, all cars are affected by the varying weather conditions of the seasons. In colder weather petrol, diesel and electric vehicles have lower fuel efficiencies, which decreases the distance the vehicle can travel without refuelling.

Some EV’s have a lower range than most traditional petrol/diesel vehicles, so there are additional considerations to make when choosing or driving your current EV. Having said that, as more EV’s are being manufactured and models continue to improve, so does their ability to perform in such climates.


Comparing petrol and diesel engines, with the alternative electric vehicle in icier weather

Cold engine oil and motors sitting around for long periods of time in gasoline vehicles can reduce fuel economy by approximately 20%. On the flip side, electric vehicles can be more efficient due to the electric motor – it turns stored electricity into motion rather than an internal combustion engine that converts the chemical energy into mechanical energy.

Traditional, non-electric engines and EV’s both lose energy through heating the vehicle, however, where the combustion engine also loses energy through the tailpipe and radiator, the EV doesn’t.

The batteries in EV’s have lower performance as temperatures decline due to the impact on the mobility of electrons through the battery. In order to keep performance at a high and reduce accelerated ageing of the battery, many EV’s have a thermal management system in-built, allowing the battery to stay warm through cold conditions and cool throughout warmer periods.


EV’s and range in cooler weather conditions

Range anxiety is a concern that is constantly on the mind of some EV drivers and wannabe converts, as you can imagine it’s a particular obsession around the winter months.

Indeed, your range can reduce during cold periods, especially on shorter journeys, but this is only by approximately 10% (around 2-3 miles), which really isn’t a lot.

One of the most obvious pieces of advice up for offer is to make sure you familiarise yourself with your local charge points or if you’re heading out for a long journey, map out your charge point stop-offs in case you need to pull over and top up. There are apps that can help with this too! If you’re a registered Hubsta customer you can log on and find where any of our charging stations are, alternatively if you’re looking for any charge point across the UK, Zap-Map is a great tool!

If you’re looking to maximise your car’s range in such weather conditions, there a few things that you might want to consider.

Where possible, (we know not everyone has this luxury) keep your vehicle tucked away in a garage safe from the elements.

Take the time to pre-heat your vehicle. Some EV’s have a pre-conditioning feature that you can kick into action before heading off on your journey, you can often do this through an app on your smartphone.

Keep your vehicle plugged in, maintaining a temperature will use less energy than attempting to raise it once it’s cooled down. As well as the pre-conditioning feature, some vehicles also offer an ‘eco’ setting, which adjusts the performance to preserve the battery.


Points for all drivers to consider 

When driving in rougher conditions you need to be prepared for all eventualities regardless of what type of vehicle you drive.

Ensure your tyres are in a good condition. This goes without saying for driving in general, but tyre performance can also be drastically affected when the temperatures drop. Check your tyres regularly for air pressure and grip, both of these factors are very important.

Simple things can also be lifesavers if you find yourself caught out in bad weather. Be it a broken-down car or misjudged corner, little tricks can make all the difference in protecting yourself.

Here are a few of our suggestions;

  • Store some blankets in the boot of the car
  • Ensure you have a shovel and gripping material, eg. flattened cardboard
  • Maintain the levels of anti-freeze screen wash at all times
  • Keep a window scraper in the glovebox
  • Bottled water also never goes amiss!

Overall, it’s good practice to keep your vehicle maintained and in good condition, electric or not and in all types of weather.

We hope you learn to relax and enjoy your EV even in the winter months!

Viva electric!



About the Author:

Leave A Comment