WHILE the UK doesn’t experience extreme cold winters like many other countries, it can still drop to cold enough temperatures to have an impact on your EV’s performance.
The main performance metric that can be affected in the winter is your EV’s operating range. EV batteries are made of lithium-ion, and those little ions find it harder to move around in the cold, thereby reducing your range in cold conditions.
The cold also has an effect on charging an EV, too. To charge efficiently, your car’s battery likes to be within a certain temperature range. If it’s really cold outside, the battery needs to warm up first before it can charge at faster speeds. This means charging can take longer in winter.
The whole process is controlled by the car’s on-board battery management system which is there both to protect and optimise the performance of the battery cells
David Lewis, Electric Lead at Select Car Leasing, has provided tips on getting the best performance out of your EV as we approach the winter months.
1. Park your vehicle in an enclosed space
Keeping your vehicle inside during winter can make a major difference to its battery performance. The warmth of the garage will hold the battery charge for longer and help it charge more quickly.
This also applies to when you’re out and about – if there is a choice between parking in an outdoor space and a multi-storey, opt for the indoor option.
2. Warm your car before you set off in the morning
Most electric vehicles come with handy apps for your smartphone or tablet which allow you to heat your car from the comfort of your kitchen. If you turn on your car’s heating before you leave the house, it will both heat up the cabin to your desired temperature and also warm up the battery to aid performance.
Most people charge their cars overnight, and if the car is still plugged in when you start heating the car in the morning, then none of your precious battery’s electricity is used up – it all comes from the grid instead.
3. Don’t let the charge in your battery get too low
When it’s really cold, the car’s battery management system likes to reserve a certain percentage of the battery capacity in order to heat the battery up. The reserve percentage is generally about 15-20%.
So if you usually keep your battery charged above 15-20% – let’s say a minimum of 50% – then you will always have a nice margin to keep your car’s performance as high as possible.
4. Heat the passenger, not the car
Since EVs do not have an internal combustion engine running hot, there’s little additional waste heat that helps warm the passenger cabin.
However, blasting the heating all around your cabin when it’s cold can drain your EV’s battery further and reduce its range. Try restricting heating to just the driver, whether it’s by turning air vents on or off, or controlling seat or steering wheel heating settings. It’s a more efficient use of the battery and consumes less electricity than heating the whole car.
5. Inflate your tyres
As the temperature drops, the air in your tyres contracts and the pressure falls. Regularly checking your tyres in winter and ensuring they’re properly inflated is a great way to maximise winter range. You want the car ‘rolling’ along the road with as little resistance as possible.
6. Use Eco-Mode
Most EVs have a form of ‘eco-mode’, in which you can boost mileage through reducing power consumption by limiting the energy supply to the driving motor and cabin heaters. You may accelerate more slowly, but this can also make driving safer in icy conditions, limiting the chance of wheel spin on icy roads.
By reducing acceleration and limiting the power of cabin heaters to a certain extent, you’re maximising the battery efficiency during cold weather.
Like any vehicle, winter means planning in extra time for your journey and thinking about what your electric car needs before you set off.