Driving an Electric Vehicle in Cold Weather
Drivers in Maine and around the world are making the switch to electric vehicles. Electric vehicles, or EVs, are fun to drive, cheaper to operate, and cleaner for the environment. Efficiency Maine offers rebates to make the switch to an electric vehicle even easier. If you’re interested in buying an EV, we’d like to share some useful information about owning and driving them. Over the last few months, we’ve covered a variety of EV topics that we hope will help Mainers across the state feel confident and excited about switching to an EV. Today’s topic: how do EVs work in cold weather?
There are some important considerations to keep in mind when driving an electric vehicle in cold weather. EV driving range decreases in cold temperatures due to the additional energy needed to warm up the battery as well as the cabin of the car. Winter range loss varies by EV make and model. A study by Recurrent Auto found that the vehicles they tested lost between 0 and 32% of estimated driving range at 32 degrees Fahrenheit.* According to an American Automobile Association (AAA) study, average driving ranges fall by 12% in 20-degree weather when the car’s cabin heater is not used. When the heater is turned on, the range could decrease by as much as 41%.** We recommend that you charge your battery more frequently in cold temperatures. If you have the option to heat the seats and the steering wheel rather than heat the air in the cabin, it will help preserve driving range. If you charge at home, preheat your car while it is plugged in to warm the battery and cabin of the car before heading out.
We also recommend taking extra precautions to not let your battery get too low when it’s cold outside – even if that means stopping at a public Level 3 charging station on the way to a final destination that also has a charger. A good rule of thumb is to make sure you always have at least 20% charge throughout your trips in the winter. You’ll need that reserve to warm the car inside and to keep the battery warm.
Colder temperatures will also increase the amount of time it takes to charge your EV due to the chemical and physical reactions that make batteries work. We recommend that you expect slower charge times when the temperature dips below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cold temperatures also decrease the driving range of gas-powered vehicles, so taking temperature into consideration shouldn’t be completely unfamiliar for most drivers. But if you’re driving your EV in the cold weather for the first time, it might help to review these suggestions before you hit the road.
Efficiency Maine offers instant rebates for eligible battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) at participating Maine car dealers. Eligible BEVs and PHEVs direct from a manufacturer are eligible for mail-in rebates. For a detailed list of vehicles that qualify for Efficiency Maine rebates, visit https://www.efficiencymaine.com/docs/EV_Rebate_Eligible_Vehicles.pdf. To find a participating dealer near you, visit https://www.efficiencymaine.com/docs/EV_Accelerator_Participating_Dealers-3.pdf. Also check https://www.efficiencymaine.com/ev/ for our EV video library and other resources.
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