We all know what it’s supposed to be like. You get in your, fully charged, electric car in the morning, start it up and set off, to arrive a few hours later at the mountain lodge or your favourite ice-fishing location.
But what is it really like to own and operate an electric car in a cold climate? We’ve all heard horror stories of discharged batteries, frozen door handles and cars just refusing to operate after a cold night, but that can hardly be the whole truth, or nobody would buy them in countries like Sweden and Norway, where freezing temperatures are a regular occurrence.
The truth must be somewhere in between the horror stories and the idealized image of them, always working perfectly under all weather conditions.
Batteries hate low temperatures
It’s a fact, and there is no way around it, that batteries and low temperatures do not mix very well. This is true of any battery of any kind and certainly so for the battery in your electric car. When cold it will perform less well, with reduced overall capacity as well as reduced maximum current.
But is this necessarily a problem?
As with anything electric, and indeed car related, your batteries will heat up when used, so the initially cold battery will, in short time, regain full capacity after a few minutes of driving, which means you will get the same mileage out of them as always.
What you need to keep in mind is that the battery needs to be fully charged, so that you can get your car going in the morning, i.e. make sure to always leave it charging or already fully charged when calling it a day.
Yes, the components of your electric car will get hot, all on their own, while driving in winter, but don’t forget the driver and passengers.
While most of your car’s gadgets will work just fine in freezing temperatures, you will not, so you will have to use the heater to keep warm. This will use extra power and there is really no way around it.
So, there you have it. Yes, it is indeed possible to use an electric car in a cold climate and with just a small bit of planning it’ll work just fine, but in the end you will take a small hit from the need for heating which will care a bit off from the car’s maximum driving range.