As the red in the thermometer begins to drop, electric vehicle drivers may begin to worry about how their vehicle will stack up against Alberta’s notoriously cold winters.
We have some good news for you, and some tips on how to winterize your EV whether this is your first winter driving an electric vehicle or you’re a season veteran.
Tested in All Conditions
We know the worry is there, but many EV manufacturers test their vehicles in multiple different conditions to ensure they, and their battery, stack up.
Ford Motor Company says they tested their latest EV – The Ford F150 Lightning – in conditions at hot at 60 C and as cold as -40 C. These tests were done in an atmospheric chamber, as well as in the great out of doors in Alaska and Michigan.
North American manufacturers know their vehicles are going to be put through the rigger by the elements and drivers alike. They took all necessary precautions to make sure they were up to snuff for whatever weather conditions they faced.
How Cold Weather Affects Your Battery
Cold weather can have an impact on your battery. This is because the cold air affects the battery cell chemistry. In cold temperatures, particularly those colder than -40 C, the electrolyte fluid in your battery thickens and causes your battery to become sluggish. This then limits how much power is available for discharge and how quickly the vehicle’s battery can charge.
What this means is that in temperatures below freezing, most EVs will suffer range loss. The amount of battery range an EV will lose is different depending on the vehicle. Some EVs will lose upwards of 30% of their range in freezing temperatures. That doesn’t mean your battery will always stay in a depleted state. On the coldest days your car’s range may initially show as 30 less than normal, but that should increase again as the battery heater starts to work.
Electric Vehicles need to work harder to heat themselves than their Internal Combustion Engine counterparts. An ICE vehicle produces a lot of extra heat that is wasted in the summer, but that same extra heat can be redirected to warm the cabin in the winter months. An EV, on the other hand, is more efficient, and the little heat generated by the motor is used to warm the battery. This means the heating in the cabin must come from a different power source, the battery.
Tips To Maintain Your EV In the Cold
Precondition Your Vehicle - a cold battery drains much faster than a conditioned one
Just like getting an ICE vehicle ready to go in the winter, you need to precondition it. This simply means turning your vehicle, and the heat, on around 30 minutes before you head out, while the car is still plugged in. This warms up the battery, so it keeps a better charge, and helps maximize the car’s driving range.
It is recommended to precondition your vehicle while it is still plugged in and charging so no additional energy is used from the battery to warm up the car.
A cold battery can also have a negative effect on regenerative braking. By preconditioning the battery you allow regenerative braking to kick in, maximizing the efficiency of your vehicle.
Many EVs allow you to remotely start them before you leave and have a way for you to set a time to start warming up the cabin for departure. In addition to this the FordPass app allows you to remote start your vehicle and also has a departure timer that is easy to set.
Cut Back on Heater Use – use heated steering wheel and seats to stay warm
Keeping your cabin warm using the heater can draw a lot of power from the battery, even if you precondition your vehicle and warm up the cabin beforehand. Luckily there is another option, so you don’t freeze!
Using heated seats and steering wheel feature will keep you toasty while also using very little energy from the battery compared to heating the air.
Park In a Garage When Possible – stay out of the wind
I think most people in Alberta can tell you the benefits of using a garage, especially in the winter. No scraping ice off the windows. No pile-up of snow to work through. You are out of the wind and the elements. This makes a difference no matter what type of vehicle you drive.
EV drivers who have the option to park in a garage during the winter can see a huge difference in their vehicle. The relative warmth of the garage will help keep the battery charged longer.
This isn’t just a tip for at home. Whenever you have a chance to park in a garage – at shopping centers and sporting events for instance – park out of the elements and in a garage if possible.
Drive Economically – use eco mode and cruise control
To help alleviate your battery anxiety in the winter, drive carefully and economically. By that we suggest engaging your Eco Mode, using cruise control and avoiding sudden acceleration and braking.
Eco Mode on your EV helps to boost mileage through reducing power consumption. This is done by limiting the energy supply to the drive motor and cabin heaters thus maximizing the battery efficiency during cold weather. While your acceleration will be slightly slower in eco mode, this means you’re driving safer by limiting the chances of wheel spins on ice- or snow-covered roads.
Did You Know? Most EVs start better in the winter months than their ICE counterparts?
In the end, our ICE vehicles have the same reduced fuel economy in the colder months, often are plugged in at night and we usually start them ahead of time for warming the engine. Driving an EV in the winter months is not that much different at all. Albertans know that winter causes adjustments, but rest assured your electric vehicle is up to the task and will still provide you with everything you need.
The team at Lacombe Quick Lane is ready to welcome you and your EV vehicle and help answer any of your questions about winterizing your EV. We provide easy, convenient, and affordable maintenance for all makes and models of electric vehicle. Our Electric Certified and Trained Technicians are backed by the expert care from our professional service advisors.
We understand the different maintenance requirements for different types of vehicles, and we believe there is a standard of excellence every driver deserves when trusting a shop to look over and service their vehicle.