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How Cold Weather Affects Electric Vehicles

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2018 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier
Bolt EV Premier
Photo: Chevrolet

It’s normal to consider winter’s impact on conventional gas-fueled vehicles. You might not have considered its effect on electric vehicles (EVs), however. Here are just a couple ways that chilly weather affects EVs — and some helpful tips for optimizing your vehicle’s range during the winter.

How EVs lose in cold weather

Recently, Idaho National Laboratory researchers completed research for a comprehensive EV Project, analyzing 10 million miles of data from EVs. The researchers found that cold weather can result in a 25-percent or more reduction of range for electric plug-in vehicles. In particular, this group found that Chevy Volts operating in Chicago winters experienced a 29-percent lower range than those driven in the same location in spring.

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electric car

Photo: Pixaline

How to maximize your EV’s range

EV manufacturers are starting to refine and implement temperature-control technology like battery heaters to improve these model’s efficiency in cold temperatures. But what if you don’t have a model equipped with this feature? There are still some practical steps you can take to help improve your vehicle’s range.

Precondition your EV

One of the best ways to help increase range is to heat the cabin and/or battery before unplugging your EV. Some vehicle models even let you do this via a smartphone or watch app, per the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Take advantage of economy mode

Many electric models come with an economy mode that helps boost fuel economy. It’s a great way to help your EV conserve energy in the winter.

Take it slow

Avoid speeding, as well as hard braking. Both driving behaviors can take a toll on your auto’s range.

Use accessories the smart way

Per Energy.gov, use seat warmers in lieu of the cabin heater, to help conserve energy while increasing range. It’s also a good idea to limit utilizing other accessories like the AC, heating, and entertainment technology since these features drain the EV’s power.

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News Sources: Union of Concerned ScientistsEnergy.gov