Electric cars: how to maximize your range during the winter

Published by on 12.17.2019 - 3 min

During the winter, low temperatures put vehicles to the test. With electric vehicles, extreme conditions can decrease range and increase charging times. That doesn’t mean the situation is hopeless, however, it is simply a matter of integrating some good habits into your routine. Follow this guide.

Electric vehicles, cold weather and range

Vehicles, whether they have an engine or motor do not always operate optimally when temperatures drop below 0°C very well. For electric cars, the primary issue is with the battery. A test carried out by the American Automobile Association on 5 different models found that at temperatures of -6°C and with the heat on, cars’ ranges dropped on average by 41%. The causes? “Numb” batteries and excess heating.

The battery in winter conditions

The lithium-ion batteries used in electric cars are based on electrochemical reactions that are slowed by cold weather. The battery thus provides less energy and loses its charge more quickly. The same phenomenon can be observed in smartphones, which are powered by the same type of battery: the battery life decreases, and in extreme cold the telephone can slow down or even stop.

ZOE on a snowy road

Energy-intensive heating

Regulating the temperature inside the vehicle, whether it be by heating or cooling, can decrease the range of your electric car by as much as 30%. Turning the heat up too high or using it for too long can thus decrease the battery’s performance. This is important to keep in mind when you’re tempted to bump the temperature up by a few degrees.

Either way, rest assured, all is not lost — it’s simply a matter of adopting a few best practices.

How to minimize the loss of an electric vehicle’s battery life in winter

Remember to preheat your car

Thanks to preconditioning, the car can already be at the correct temperature when we get in. It is sufficient to program it with the MY Renault application on a smartphone to start adjusting the temperature 30 minutes before leaving. This is beneficial for two reasons: for comfort, of course, but also for battery economy. If the preconditioning is done while the car is charging, the interior will warm up without using any battery power. You can hit the road in a warm vehicle and with a battery at 100% capacity!

If there is only one person in the vehicle, the driver can also take advantage of the heated seat and/or steering wheel, if the car is equipped with them. They require less energy than heating the whole vehicle.

ZOE preconditioning dashboard

Switch to eco-driving mode

Eco-driving consists of adapting the driving style to consume as little energy as possible. And what better time to get into the habit than during the winter when snow and ice can cause slippery road surfaces? Indeed, one of the main characteristics of eco-driving is smooth, controlled acceleration and braking. Avoid energy-guzzling hard accelerations and last-minute braking in favor of gradual acceleration and using the engine brake, which lets the battery recharge through regenerative braking once it is up to temperature.

Careful management of heating and air conditioning are also part of the eco-driving style.

For relaxed driving, activate the “ECO” mode once the conductor hit the road to help maintain good driving habits. Eco-driving can increase the range by as much as 20%, a considerable improvement.

Plan your trips for just after the battery has finished charging

Just like the temperature with preconditioning, charging can also be managed and programmed remotely. By charging the vehicle as little as one hour before leaving, the battery can benefit from the warmth provided by a charging system and thus be better prepared to handle longer distances.

Protect your car from the cold

You’ve no doubt thought of this yourself, but a little reminder can’t hurt! Garages and closed parking lots are allies in the fight against cold and negative consequences it can have on the battery.

In conclusion, hitting the road with a preheated car that has just finished charging and follow the basic principles of eco-driving, the car’s range should suffer less from the cold! Easy, no?

 

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