Auto, energy, News, , transportation

Winter Brings Worries for Electric Car Owners

Tesla Model S in Norway

If you live anywhere in the northern hemisphere, you’re likely already aware of how bitterly cold temperatures can dip to. In the United States or Canada alone, good luck if you’re living in Alaska, North Dakota, or Minnesota, as temperatures can reach well below -1 degrees Fahrenheit. Same story with Iceland, or Scandinavia. However, you’re going to need more than luck if you’re an EV (electric vehicle) owner in a cold climate, as it appears that electric car batteries may well struggle in winter – taking more time and energy to warm up and function efficiently.

Sadly, global warming pushed winter patterns from November/December to January-March, and having snow as late as April in the middle of Europe is not an uncommon occurrence. We’re now witnessing snow even in Taiwan or Southern China, which is not something you would expect from average temperatures.

According to a recent article from Business Insider, your car’s cabin heaters are a major culprit to draining energy away from the main battery. Unlike a regular vehicle with an internal-combustion engine, cabins in electric cars can’t forage excess heat from the main power source. However, the most effective way to warm up your car before driving, is by simply plugging it in before you actually start the engine. Therefore, the energy comes from the grid, and not your car’s battery, in order to heat the cabin.

Along with picking up snow chains and other winter accessories from online outlets like Mister Auto, there are many simple tips that should be implemented when driving in winter – EV or otherwise. Using your seat warmers, rather than your cabin heaters, will greatly assist your EV reach its maximum range, or reduce burden on the car battery in an conventional ICE-powered vehicle. Putting the car in a garage, or placing a cover over the vehicle, will help raise the engine’s temperature. And of course, lessening hard accelerating and breaking, as well as high-speed driving.

As we’ve seen, electric cars can be a fickle market, as shown by the bankruptcy of one electric car battery manufacturer. However, EV owners have been vocal about being able to acquire upgradable batteries after a certain time-frame – something that manufactures are reluctant to bow to, stating that a new vehicle is the upgrade, not the battery.

  • BaronMatrix

    OMG, this is the first time I’ve seen a news site admit that we have pushed the seasons a month on both sides.. It takes longer to get colder and warmer in fall and spring, respectively…

    I said it before the Indian chief…

    • Personally, I do not ‘believe’ in global warming, since it’s already here. I am not the author of the article, but I do agree with her – on the first day of winter, we experienced 17C / 63F, Christmas saw tghe same temperature, it was 11C / 52F on New Year, and snow storm came a week after – and then it was freezing. Personally, I changed to winter tires in the first week of January, since I refuse to change the tires before the temperatures drop – and you’ll only ruin them if you’re driving with the temperature being too high.

      So yes, time of winter has shifted. Talking about winter in November, when it’s almost ice cream time during the day is just rubbish. Turning AC on in the car because it is too hot after an hour of drive is also summer, not winter topic. Winter is now January-March or January-April. And that comes from a person living in the European counterpart of Oregon.

  • Steve:O

    lol ” Unlike a regular vehicle with an internal-combustion engine, cabins in electric cars can’t forage excess heat from the main power source.” That’s just a cute way of saying, “Summer and winter petrol engines convert only 25-40 percent of their potential energy into propulsion, the vast majority is wasted as noise and heat.” Sadly, petrol engines are not only noisy and dirty, they are inefficient year round: summer and winter. Yes, EV range drops noticeably in the cold, but it’s noticeable because their 90% +/- efficiency ratings means they don’t have an overabundance of already wasted energy to divert to the cabin.

  • Mike

    Whoever wrote this article didn’t do enough research. The Model S can use the waste heat from the battery packs to heat the cabin. It also does extremely well in Econ mode. I noticed very little drain in zero degree weather running the heater.

    Other manufacturers may have the issues listed but Tesla does fine.