How to drive an EV in cold weather and snow through a Canadian winter – here’s the EV winter driving tips you should know
The use of electric vehicles is becoming more common around the world, especially in North America. The driving experience for everybody is not the same, however, as not all driving conditions are the same around the world. Someone driving on the California coast will not have the same experience as someone drive an EV in cold weather in Canada during the peak of the winter season.
During the winter, Canadians have a lot to worry about. In addition to the dangers of slipping and falling on ice and the effects of seasonal affective disorder, the biggest concern for most Canadians is winter driving, especially with an EV. Many Canadians might be hesitant to purchase electric vehicles, citing the vehicles’ poor winter performance as their major hesitation. Although drive an EV in cold weather does affect battery performance, this should be the least of your wintertime concerns.
In this article, we will share with you what we have learned from living with the harsh winter season up here in the North; and give you advice on how to drive an EV in cold weather and snow through a Canadian winter that is often frowned upon for drivers of EVs.
EV range variation in winter
The range of an electric vehicle (EV) can be affected by several factors, including ambient temperature. Driving an EV in cold weather, the range of an EV may be reduced because the battery’s performance can be impaired by the cold. This is since the chemical reactions that produce electricity in the battery become less efficient at lower temperatures. As a result, the battery may not be able to generate as much power as it would at higher temperatures, which can lead to a reduction in range.
There are a few ways in which cold weather can affect the range of an EV:
- Cold temperatures can cause the battery to lose some of its charge. When the battery is cold, it becomes less efficient at storing and releasing energy, which can lead to a reduction in range.
- Cold weather can also increase the amount of energy needed to heat the interior of the vehicle. To keep the cabin warm and comfortable, the heating system will use some of the energy from the battery, which can reduce the range.
- Cold weather can also increase the amount of energy needed to operate the vehicle’s various systems, such as the headlights, wipers, and heater. This can also reduce the range of the vehicle.
Caring for your EV’s battery in cold weather
In Canada, where the harsh winters may result in more battery degradation than in other locations with a different temperature, an EV’s battery life should be the first and possibly the primary emphasis when purchasing an electric vehicle and doing maintenance. Lowered output and charging rates may be caused by a battery bank’s intrinsic chemical reactivity, which is affected by cold weather. Even if you charge your EV inside or under cover, insulation is still important, because the batteries could still become cold while you’re driving. Because an electric vehicle’s motor won’t shut off like it would in a gas-powered vehicle if you run out of juice while you’re driving, keep in mind that transporting one typically requires a flatbed tow.
As always, Carnex can provide you with detailed information about buying and owning electric vehicles in Canada.
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There are a few steps you can take to care for your electric vehicle (EV) battery in cold weather:
- Keep the battery charged: It is important to keep the battery charged in cold weather, as a fully charged battery will perform better in the cold than a partially charged one. If possible, try to charge the battery to at least 50% before storing it in cold weather.
- Preheat the cabin: Preheating the cabin before driving can help to warm up the battery and improve its performance. Some EVs have a feature that allows you to preheat the cabin using a smartphone app or by setting a timer.
- Use seat heaters instead of the cabin heater: Using seat heaters instead of the cabin heater can help reduce the amount of energy used by the heating system and improve the range of the vehicle.
- Avoid rapid charging: rapid charging can generate heat, which can be beneficial in cold weather. However, it can also cause the battery to age faster. If possible, try to avoid rapid charging in cold weather and opt for slower charging instead.
- Store the vehicle in a warm place: If you are not using your EV for an extended period, it is best to store it in a warm place, such as a garage or carport. This will help to keep the battery warm and prevent it from losing charge.
Charging while traveling with your EV in the winter
When doing long trips in your EV, having the correct charging infrastructure along the way is essential to a smooth and fast trip, as well as having a battery for the entire trip distance.
The Level 3 chargers, also known as “Quick Chargers” or “DC Fast Chargers,” are designed to give your electric vehicle’s battery a quick recharge while you’re on the go. In the time it takes to use the restroom, have a coffee, and get a snack, connecting to one can extend the range of the EV’s battery by at least 100 kilometers. Remember that a Level 3 charger is the quickest way to recharge your EV’s battery when searching for a public charging station. For longer journeys in the cold, when the battery will deplete more quickly, it is wise to keep one of these along your route. A route with lots of Level 3 charging stations available can boost confidence while driving long distances in an electric vehicle in the winter.
Therefore, planning your trip ahead of time can be very useful, as you can find some level 3 chargers along the way and plan for the breaks you may want to take during the trip.
An AWD-equipped EV is still a big investment. Although EVs like those from Tesla, Porsche, Jaguar, and other manufacturers use dual motors to offer four-wheel traction, the cheapest EVs now available are front-wheel drive. Driving in the winter is much easier when your EV can drive with all four wheels, as it provides more performance and traction in the snow. In general, vehicles with AWD are better equipped to handle slippery or uneven road surfaces, such as those found in snow and ice, because the power is distributed evenly to all four wheels. This can improve traction and stability, making it easier to accelerate, brake, and steer the vehicle in adverse weather conditions. However, it is important to note that AWD is not a substitute for good driving habits and proper winter tires. While AWD can improve a vehicle’s traction and stability in the snow, it is still important to drive slowly and carefully and to use winter tires that are specifically designed for use in cold weather. Winter tires have a special tread design and compound that helps them grip the road better in cold and snowy conditions, and they are an essential component of any vehicle’s winter driving setup.
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