Will Winter Storms Spell Disaster for Your Electric Car? Page 2

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Driving on ice in Paignton, England

Driving on ice in Paignton, England

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Taking your electric car from your home garage to your the garage in your place of work shouldn’t affect the range that much in cold weather, provided you have a reasonable route devoid of too much stop/start traffic. 

On the other hand, leaving an electric car parked outisde all day without any way to keep its battery pack warm will significantly affect your range. 

Cabin Heating

Keeping the interior of any car warm requires energy. in a gasoline powered car this energy comes from the heat wated by the internal combustion engine. In an electric car, heat comes from a heating element which has to consume electrical energy to warm the car. 

But don't worry. There are some solutions to ensure that the energy drain from keeping you warm is as small as possible. 

Some cars, like the 2011 Tesla Roadster Sport 2.5, use heated seats. Other electric cars offer heated steering wheels. Both these features can produce heat to keep the driver warm more efficiently than a traditional cabin heater, reducing energy loss to heating and improving range. 

Additionally, pre-heating the cabin before you leave in the morning can also help save energy during the drive. Since it takes less energy to keep a set temperature than it does to raise the temperature of a cabin, set the car’s pre-heat function to warm the car before you unplug in the morning. The 2011 Nissan LEAF, 2011 Chevrolet Volt and 2012 Ford Focus all have this feature. 

Extremes - and Surviving Them

winter tire

winter tire

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As pointed out in The Washington Post by Charles Lane, being stuck in sub-freezing weather for six hours could certainly impact on your electric car’s range if the heater is needed to keep you warm. Similarly, pointing out that electric cars cannot be charged when home power is cut hardly needs to be stated.  

But we’d like to hope that in areas where heavy winter snow de facto and authorities are used to dealing with extreme snowfall, such tailbacks and power cuts are relatively unusual. 

As for areas where winter snow brings the world to a standstill? We’d like to think common sense is applied and where possible; you think twice about that commute anyway regardless of the vehicle you drive. 

If you do encounter snow and  want to make the most of winter weather in your electric car  we'd recommend you follow three simple points: 

  1. Keep your car plugged in so it can keep itself warm
  2. Store your car in a garage when it is not in use
  3. Pre-heat the cabin while charging from the mains, and use seat heaters and/or steeringwheel heaters where appropriate. 

Do you drive your electric car in snow? What experiences do you have? Don't forget to tell us in the Comments below. 

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