How to drive an electric car in winter: Top tips

  • Electric car owners should take extra precautions in cold weather conditions than conventional internal combustion engine-powered vehicles.
Snowy or icy roads pose a lot of challenges to drivers, while the Ev drivers face some additional challenges. (AFP)
Snowy or icy roads pose a lot of challenges to drivers, while the Ev drivers face some additional challenges.

The winter is here. Like internal combustion engine-powered vehicles, electric vehicles, too, face some difficulties with extremely cold temperatures. One of the prominent ones among them is the range drop issue. In extremely cold weather conditions, it is normal for electric vehicles to return fewer kilometres than in summer or any other time of the year. This happens even after the vehicle is normally and fully charged.

Interestingly, you may never have noticed, but the fuel efficiency of petrol vehicles too drops in winter, especially in extreme cold weather conditions. Even during very short trips in cold weather, a petrol vehicle could use a bit of extra fuel than other times in the year. For electric vehicles, the lower efficiency translates into a lower range. The range drop in winter for electric vehicles happens because EV batteries work more efficiently when they are warm.

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Also Read : How to drive in snow: Important tips

Reduction in the efficiency of the electric vehicle batteries can reduce EVs' range by up to 12 per cent in cold weather. One can prevent the significant drain of the charge from the EV battery by following a couple of important tips. Here are some important tips about driving an electric vehicle in winter.

Pre-warm the car

Pre-warming a car means heating the car while the driver is yet to enter it. This allows the driver to jump into a warm car without doing windshield scraping. Also, it means the driver will not feel the chilly cabin initially. Many modern cars allow this function to be activated remotely using a dedicated app. What's more important is that pre-warming the car will ensure the battery of the EV can be ready to move the vehicle more efficiently. Just ensure that when you preheat or pre-warm the car, it is plugged in because there is no point in drawing energy from the battery, instead from the grid.

Charge when the EV is idle

Try to charge the EV battery overnight, which is usually the time the vehicle sits idle. This would ensure the maximum efficiency of the battery and the vehicle. A battery warms when it charges, allowing you more available energy and range for the day than a battery that is recharged and left cold. A warm battery ensures that regenerative braking works better from the start.

Use regenerative braking

Ensure you use the regenerative braking frequently in cold weather conditions. On a snowy o icy road, where the risk of skids and slides is higher, regenerative braking would ensure the car's speed is in check, and at the same time, it will top up the battery with energy generated while the brake is applied. In fact, regenerate braking works better than ABS braking technology on icy roads. However, regenerative braking is more effective when the battery is warm and not very cold. A cold battery cannot accept as much surplus energy as a warm battery.

Avoid speeding

Speeding may be a thrilling sensation, but for your EV, it means losing more energy than ever. Speeding increases drag for a vehicle, eventually impacting the mileage. Always try to drive slowly and maintain optimum speed in winter, ensuring you use the battery power efficiently.

Drive in Eco mode

Driving an EV in ‘Eco’ mode ensures there is less power being delivered to the drivetrain without stalling the vehicle. The Eco mode means lower torque generation, making it perfect for snowy or icy roads. This will not allow the driver to accelerate much and help to reduce the possibility of wheel spin. Also, it will ensure less drag for the vehicle, resulting in lower pressure on the powertrain. The Eco mode also limits power-consuming features like the heating system, eventually saving energy.

Maintain tyre pressure

Maintaining the optimum air pressure in tyres is a key step to increasing an EV's range, not only in winter but throughout the year. When the temperature falls in winter, tyre pressure may drop by as much as 10 per cent. Less air in the tyres than the requirement means higher drag for the vehicle, which results in higher energy consumption.

How to drive an electric car in winter
Step 1 :

Pre-warm the car

Step 2 :

Charge when EV is idle

Step 3 :

Use regenerative braking

Step 4 :

Avoid speeding

Step 5 :

Drive in Eco mode

Step 6 :

Maintain tyre pressure

First Published Date: 26 Dec 2022, 15:07 PM IST
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