Close up view of an electric car charging in icy conditions

Why does my electric car’s range drop when the weather is cold?

One of the biggest arguments people tend to bring up when fighting against EVs is “range anxiety” – the fear of running out of juice in the middle of nowhere (which is no different to running out of petrol in the middle of nowhere but no-one talks about that…). Then, once you’ve found a charger, it takes forever to get going, particularly in the cold – so why is it that when the temperature drops, so does our EVs’ ability to get from A to B?

If you’ve got an EV that is displaying worryingly low range in the depths of winter, or perhaps you’ve got an old Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) car that’s clogging up the driveway and you’re looking to update to something a little less pollute-y, then Scrap Car Comparison is here for you. We’ll find you the very best price in as little as 60 seconds, and better yet, we even offer free collection thanks to our nationwide network of collectors. Give our friendly team a call today and see just how much you could get for your old car.

Close up of an electric car charging in the snow

Do outside temperatures affect EV range?

Absolutely, in fact the temperature can have a drastic impact on your EV’s range. While you’ve probably heard all of the horror stories surrounding electric vehicles in the winter, weather can also have a positive affect on your range. In optimal temperatures, you might find you’re able to drive further than you initially thought, although the amount you’ll gain in the ideal climate is not as much as you’d lose in the depths of winter.

What happens to an electric car’s range in winter?

The cold temperatures play havoc with an EV’s range. Anyone with a mobile phone will know that when it’s cold your battery life is going to drop dramatically, and while that is the case with your car battery, there are other factors at play, too. As you drive along in the cold, you’re likely to want to have the heater on, probably on your seats as well, to improve comfort – and you’re also more than likely going to want some music on too. All of these will be draining battery life, particularly the heater, which uses much more power in an electric car than that of an ICE vehicle, which just draws the temperature from the hot engine bay directly into your face.

Why is my electric car’s range low?

The range of your EV is determined by a number of factors, not just the climate you’re in, and you might even find it’s your own fault that you’re experiencing range anxiety. Of course regular servicing is always going to keep your car in a general positive state, but here’s just a handful of instances that can also change your car’s range.

  • Climate Control: Want to have the car at a specific temperature no matter what the mercury is saying outside? That’s going to be draining your car’s power reserves as it either heats up or cools down the cabin. Renault suggests that the effect can be as much as 30%!
  • Speed: Much like traditional fuels, the faster you drive, the sooner you’re going to be running on empty. Rapid acceleration and sudden braking are known to be the least efficient ways of driving, whereas driving to maintain momentum can save a lot on your energy consumption.
  • The road: Okay, so you have no control over this one, but elevation changes will result in needing to press the go pedal harder, which in turn will use up more energy.
  • Accessories: Using windscreen wipers, headlights and infotainment systems all use energy. Now, of course we’re not suggesting going without wipers or lights on a rainy night, but using them only when required instead of as standard is going to save many miles on your range.
  • Tyre pressures: One of the easiest ways to ensure you’re not wasting fuel in an ICE vehicle, the same goes for EVs – check your tyre pressures. Incorrectly inflated tyres can increase your rolling resistance, meaning you need more oomph to drive along even the smoothest, flattest of roads.

Why does it take so long to charge my EV in winter?

Your EV is going to take longer to charge in winter for the exact same reason you might see a drop in performance in the winter months – the battery is cold. Again, to use the analogy of your smartphone, you’re going to notice a dip in performance in icy conditions, such as going sledging during the winter holidays, and that is the same issue you’re going to have with your EV. Your car’s main battery will have an optimum operating temperature somewhere between 20 and 40 degrees Celsius, and it’s going to be difficult to reach that when it’s -3 outside at night. As a result, the colder temps will slow down the electrochemical processes in the battery, making it harder to both use and receive its charge.

How to protect your electric car in winter

If you want to extend your range, one of the best things you can do is preheat the car while it’s still plugged into its charger in the morning. This way you’ll also heat up the battery, meaning you won’t be trying to warm yourself up while driving with a cold battery. You can also improve your car’s life in winter by driving as smoothly as possible and giving it no shocks from either the accelerator or the brake pedal. Finally, try to charge the car when it’s hot – the car will try to protect it from a high voltage charge when cold, meaning the power will be reduced.

If your EV is struggling in winter and you’re worried the battery just isn’t up to scratch anymore, then it might be time to get rid of the entire car anyway. With Scrap Car Comparison, we’re committed to getting you only the very best price for your car, whether it’s an EV or an ICE dinosaur, and no matter how badly damaged or worn out it may be. We have buyers and collection agents working all around the country, meaning we can provide free collection to 99% of all UK postcodes. So, get started today and find out how much your broken or worn out car could be worth.

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