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Electric Vehicles and Cold Weather

As electric vehicles (EVs) continue to gain popularity, one recent issue garnering attention is their performance during winter conditions. Recent reports highlight issues such as decreased range and efficiency due to factors like battery performance and increased energy consumption for heating systems. Addressing these concerns is crucial to ensuring the widespread adoption and reliability of EVs, especially in regions with harsh winter conditions. In this article, we will explore how electric car owners can prepare for winter and address some common misconceptions. 

Cold temperatures can slow down the chemical reaction inside the battery that generates electricity, reducing the battery's output. When you add on the power drawn from the battery when running appliances that keep your car warm, such as the cabin heater, or defroster, it reduces the EV’s overall driving range as well. According to the AAA, EV’s can lose up to 41% of their driving range when temperatures reach 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Luckily, most modern electric vehicles, such as the Hyundai Ioniq 5 or the Toyota bZ4X, are equipped with thermal management systems that help combat this issue. EV models started incorporating heat pumps into their cars around the early to mid 2010s, which warm up car interiors, lessening battery strain in cold weather. Older models have “resistive” heaters as well, though they are less effective. It is estimated that electric vehicles with heat pumps lose 20% less range than those without it, making the average driving range lost only 20% in cold weather.

While you can’t change the weather, you can make sure you’re prepared for it. 

For one, EV owners should make use of their car's preheating feature while it is still connected to a power source. This is known as preconditioning, and warms up the battery and cabin, ensuring a comfortable driving experience. Because the energy for heating comes from the grid, not the battery, you’ll also be preserving battery range. 

You should also make sure to park indoors whenever possible, since constant exposure to cold weather can accelerate EV battery degradation by around 20-30%. This helps to ensure your battery stays as close to the ideal temperature as possible as well as stabilizes cabin temperatures.

We hope this article helps electric car owners confidently navigate the winter season by getting rid of common misconceptions and helping them prepare their vehicles for colder weather.


Brian Normile and Damon Bell          January 18, 2024, Jennifer Geiger    News Editor, Stef Schrader          January 23, 2024, & Aaron Bragman    Detroit Bureau Chief. (n.d.). How well do electric cars work in cold weather?. 

NBCUniversal News Group. (2024, January 18). Ev drivers wrestle with cold weather sapping their battery range. 

Snyder, J. B. (2024, January 26). Everything EV owners need to know about cold weather issues and tips to maximize driving range. Autoblog. 


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