With the colder months approaching it is now the time to take the necessary steps to winterise your electric vehicle (EV). Whether you have been driving an electric car for years or this is your first year of ownership, there are a number of important steps to follow before the freezing conditions hit.
Winter driving provides a unique set of challenges for electric cars. Unlike cars powered by internal combustion engines, EV’s have no trouble starting up on a freezing cold winter’s day. But despite this there are some things to be aware of, mostly around the range and charging capacity of your electric vehicle.
Here are seven tips on how to get the best performance out of your electric car as the winter months quickly approach.
1. Keep Your Battery Warm
An electric car battery performs optimally between 20°c and 25°c. As the temperature falls, battery performance and range progressively decrease. You may have noticed that this also happens with your smartphone.
This happens as colder temperatures lead to a decrease in conductivity, which slows down the chemical reactions in the battery cells. Consequently, the electric cars battery is less efficient and the range deteriorates. Research conducted by the American Automobile Association found that on average an electric car loses 12% of its range at -6°c compared to 23°c.
To conserve your battery, we recommend parking your electric vehicle in an enclosed space such as a garage. We also advise that you start driving the electric car as soon as you disconnect it from the EV charge point. This is as the battery will already be ‘warm’, meaning it will be less likely to lose range.
2. Inflate Your Tyres
Car tyres can lose 1 PSI (pound per square inch) every time the temperature falls by 10°c. For this reason you should regularly check your EV’s tyre pressure and inflate them regularly to ensure your vehicle has maximum grip. It can also help to increase your vehicles efficiency.
3. Park In A Garage
If you are lucky enough to have a garage, clear out all the old boxes and put your Electric Vehicle in it. Parking your EV inside a garage during the winter months can make a big difference to battery performance, as it will keep the battery warm when you are not using it. The battery will hold its charge much more efficiently if its not exposed to sub-zero temperatures every night.
4. Don’t Let Your Battery Get Too Low
As we have mentioned, the cold winter months can be tough on your electric cars battery, leading to reduced battery performance and range in some instances. When it is really cold, the EV’s battery management system will reserve a certain percentage of the overall battery capacity in order to warm up the battery. This is usually around 15-20%. This is why it is important to not let your electric cars battery fall below 20% and ideally not below 50%. This gives you a safety net incase you get lost and don’t know where the nearest EV charge point is. It will also keep your EV’s performance as optimised as possible.
5. Use Heating Intelligently
Turning the heat up too much or keeping it on for a sustained period of time can decrease your electric vehicles range by up to 41%, according to research by the American Automobile Association. Try restricting heating to just the driver by turning air vents on or off, or controlling seat or steering wheel heat settings. Alternatively, you could just wrap up in a big coat, hat, gloves and bring a flask!
A good way to get around this is to precondition the car before you start your journey, which we will discuss next.
6. Precondition Your EV
Another top tip for preventing winter range loss is preconditioning your EV. When your electric car is charging, you can start warming up the battery so that it isn’t cold when you start driving. This system can also warm up the EV’s interior, making those cold morning commutes that bit more bearable. As the car is being heated while still on charge, you can save the battery’s power for driving.
Most modern electric cars have an app you can use to initiate preconditioning remotely. You can also setup a pre-set schedule so the vehicle knows when it should start heating itself up.
7. Adopt An Eco-Driving Style
Selecting your electric vehicles eco-mode will help to negate the effects of the cold weather on your battery. The eco-mode for each EV varies, but they all achieve the goal of boosting range through reduced power consumption by limiting the energy supply to the drive motor and cabin heaters.