Winter is coming and with it comes shorter days, colder temperatures, and preparation for icy road conditions. It is especially important to prepare any vehicle for the colder climate and heed with caution as 24% of weather-related accidents occur in winter conditions. While ICE vehicle owners still feel the headache of winter, it’s a much more difficult season for EV owners.
An EV’s efficiency can be negatively affected in the winter. The electrical energy used to power an EV motor also powers the demanding HVAC system, resulting in higher energy usage and shorter range in the winter months. In fact, your EV can experience a 12% range reduction when met with colder temperatures,
You can avoid problems like this with the right tips. Here are five ways to winterize your EV:
1. Preconditioning Is Key
One of the best ways to prepare your EV for driving on winter roads is to get in the habit of preconditioning. Preconditioning is starting or warming your car while it’s still plugged in. This allows you to have a preheated cabin and a battery that is ready for driving. The key is to keep the vehicle plugged in while doing this, that way the energy expended is from the grid and not from your vehicle’s battery. Now you can roll out of your driveway in a warm, fully-charged car.
Not only does preconditioning help keep your car toasty, but it also prepares the battery for more efficient driving. Higher temperatures allow lithium-ion batteries (used in most electric cars) to increase performance and storage capacity. Your car will be easier to drive thanks to preconditioning.
You can also align your car’s charging times with departure times, as a fully-charged battery will be warmer than one that finished charging hours ago and had time to cool.
2. Monitor your braking systems and speed
Regenerative braking is a common feature in EVs. It reuses energy released from braking to power the battery. It is very efficient but often hampered by winter conditions. Utilize this feature as best you can, but be prepared for it to be less effective since cold batteries aren’t as receptive to energy as warm batteries are.
Instead, rely on other ways to conserve your battery such as reduced speed and slower accelerations. Reducing your speed by 10 MPH allows you to consume 14% less energy. Driving slower also helps you avoid dangerous and icy conditions on the road.
3. Limit heater usage
Most of your battery’s energy is feeding the heater in the winter. It’s best to limit the use of the heater as much as possible to extend your EV’s range. Studies show that loss of driving range can be as high as 41% with the heater on full blast.
Opt for a heated steering wheel or heated seats as a substitute to lessen the strain on your vehicle’s HVAC system. Electric vehicles require proper thermal management in the winter, which is why many EV manufacturers are looking into heat pumps that would reuse excess battery heat to warm the cabin of the vehicle. This would ensure that the battery wouldn’t overheat while maintaining the cabin’s temperature and powering the rest of the car.
Another way to circumvent this is to engage eco-mode, limiting the amount of energy your car is utilizing to warm itself.
4. Optimize Routes
To prepare for the 12% of range you’re bound to lose in winter, be sure to optimize routes to include shorter distances and chargers along the way. Look up public chargers in your area and remain familiar with the ones on your route. During the day, park in direct sunlight to keep the car warm. At night, park in a garage to avoid exposure to the winter weather.
5. Ensure proper vehicle maintenance
Proper vehicle maintenance is essential in all seasons but especially in the winter. The increased density of cold air causes tires to contract and deflate. Low tire pressure leads to a lack of traction and stronger heat dissipation, which shortens your range. Regularly check and maintain your tire pressure to increase range.
Despite the cold weather, your battery is still prone to overheating. Ensure your coolant levels are full to mitigate the risks of overheating and support your vehicle’s thermal management system.
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