Electric vehicles in winter
The arrival of winter brings a number of changes in our daily behavior, such as changing our clothing habits or turning on the heating in our home.
We also adapt our diet because our body needs more energy to fight the cold.
An electric vehicle, especially its battery, has an optimal range of operating temperatures. Below this, a number of things must be taken into account to reduce as much as possible the impact of the cold.
The differences between an electric vehicle and a thermal one when winter arrives
Since they have existed, and especially as they get older, thermal vehicles have accustomed us to take into account certain inconveniences that appear as soon as the cold season arrives.
These are engine starting, window defrosting, defogging, etc.
Once the internal combustion car has started, all you have to do is wait for the heat from the engine to benefit the whole vehicle, including the passenger compartment.
On an electric car, it’s different: the engine doesn’t heat – or only insignificantly compared to that of a combustion vehicle.
However, the passengers also need to warm up, and the energy to produce this heat must come from the vehicle’s propulsion battery.
The same applies to the defrosting of the windscreen and rear window, etc.
The battery of an electric car and its performance in winter
When winter temperatures arrive and the mercury no longer reaches 12-15°C, the performance of an electric vehicle battery degrades.
Indeed, one can see that a battery fully charged in summer indicates a longer range than in winter.
This performance decreases even more with the consumption of heating.
In winter, it is therefore recommended to drive slowly at first, avoiding heavy acceleration when starting, so as not to put too much strain on the battery while it is still cold.
The chemical reactions caused by the use of the battery increase its temperature, which means that the full potential of the battery can be used after a few kilometers.
The range of the electric vehicles in winter
In general, it is estimated that the range of an electric car decreases by about 20% in winter compared to summer, without taking into account the use of heating.
This figure may even double depending on the temperature required in the passenger compartment.
The use of heating
If you look at your electric vehicle’s on-board computer, you’ll notice a loss of range of 5 to 10 kilometers per degree when you turn up the heat.
People sensitive to cold should therefore think carefully before adjusting their air conditioning, because heating the interior of the electric car will always be to the detriment of the range.
It is therefore wiser to settle for a thermostat around 20°C to reduce this loss of range.
Heated seats and steering wheel help optimize the car’s heating usage, thus reducing the consumption from the propulsion battery and its consequences on its range.
The "winter mode"
Today’s electric vehicles are generally equipped with a “winter mode” that must be activated during the cold season.
This “winter mode” is quite interesting because it helps to keep the battery at a certain temperature by warming it up when necessary. This keeps all the driving qualities of the battery (responsiveness, etc.) and improves the performance of the DC charging.
However, keeping the battery at the right temperature in winter requires warming it up. Warming it also consumes energy, which reduces its range.
Recharging an electric vehicle in winter
The process of recharging the battery of today’s electric vehicles causes chemical activity within the battery components, which in turn increases the temperature of the battery.
In winter, to leave in the morning with your electric vehicle, it is therefore more interesting to program the recharging process so that it ends just before your departure.
The battery will then be at the right temperature, thanks to this recharging process, and its management system will not have to draw on its reserve to warm it up.
In addition, driving and using the battery will keep it at the right temperature without using extra energy.
Preheat during recharging
A great luxury offered by today’s electric cars is the ability to program the right interior temperature before departure. When air conditioning is available, the system activates the heating – or air conditioning – depending on the ambient temperature and the temperature set by the user.
In winter, this function allows the passenger compartment of the electric vehicle to be found already heated to the desired temperature. This pre-heating uses only the energy that comes from the charging station (private, mobile or public) and not from the battery.
In addition to the comfort of this function, the most interesting feature is the economy obtained in the propulsion battery, which allows you to save kilometers of range.
Winter tires and their importance in electric vehicles
In winter, your electric vehicle will need to be fitted with tires suitable for that season.
These tires increase safety thanks to their grip performance in low temperatures, as soon as these drop below 7°C.
You should also remember to inflate them properly according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Inflating the tires to the recommended pressure allows you to maintain good road holding, but also to reduce their wear and tear and above all to improve the consumption of the electric vehicle.