Electric Cars: The Basics
For those of you new to zero-emission electric driving, we recommend a read of the following articles:
- Types Of Electric Vehicles: A Short Guide
- Should I Buy An Electric Car In 2021?
- Top 20 Jargons Used In The Electric Vehicle Industry!
- UK Plug-In Electric Car Grant 2021
- What Is The Difference Between Conventional Hybrids and Plug-In Hybrids?
- Electric Car Home Charging OLEV EVHS Grant
- Best Electric Cars 2021
- Electric Cars Range: What Is WLTP?
Sign up to the e-zoomed Electric Living newsletter
Extreme Temperatures Impact The Performance Of All Types Of Vehicles, To Include All-Electric Cars. Yes Electric Cars Work In The Winter!
We at e-zoomed are often asked by potential EV buyers, if an electric car will work in cold temperatures. The short answer is yes!
The United Kingdom does get cold, but not quite as cold as Norway, Sweden, Finland or even Russia. In 2019, January was the coldest month in the UK, with an average temperature of 4.2 degrees Celsius. July was the hottest month, with an average UK wide temperature of 17.6 degrees Celsius.
If we go back to 2015, the average UK temperature in January was 4.8 degrees Celsius and in July 2015, 15.7 degrees Celsius. Yes it is true that these are average temperatures and the northern regions of the United Kingdom, in particular, the highlands experience lower temperatures in the winter, in particular at night. However, it is fair to say that the UK has a mild climate compared to the above mentioned countries.
Interestingly, Norway, the most matured EV market has an average January temperature of minus 7 degrees Celsius. But that has certainly not reduced the enthusiasm of the country to migrate to zero-emission road transportation.
When it comes to temperature, all types of vehicles are impacted at varying degrees. These include both, internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles (petrol and diesel) and electric vehicles.
In the case of pure electric cars or all-electric vans, the key temperature threshold is sub-zero (below freezing) temperatures, as this is when the temperature most impacts the performance of a plug-in electric car like an all-electric Nissan Leaf. Having said that, the performance of an EV can be reduced from below 5 degrees Celsius. Manufacturers continue to find optimal thermal management solutions to better regulate EV battery temperature and reduce any negative impact from lowering temperatures.
In general, key areas impacted in electric driving are:
Though they have been some commentators that have suggested that in sub-zero temperatures, the range of a battery-electric vehicle (BEV) is impacted as much as 40%, the majority of the findings suggest an average drop in mileage of 12% (without the use of any services like heating) and up to 25% with the use of services like heating.
In general, an EV battery (lithium-ion) performs best in an ideal range, also known as peak performance. This is no different to any other type of vehicle. When an electric car is out of its ideal temperature range, the EV battery performance is lower because the cold temperatures (sub-zero) or the extreme heat, slows down the performance of the electrolyte fluid within the EV battery cells.
Put another way, in cold weather, the frosty conditions impact the mobility of the electrons within the EV battery. The performance of an EV battery in sub-zero conditions will depend on the type of battery i.e. not all EV batteries are the same. However, in general EV batteries perform their best between 15 degrees Celsius and 25 degrees Celsius.
Apart from the above, in sub-zero or colder driving conditions, it is but obvious to take advantage of heating within the cabin, to include features like heated car seats etc. These services are also powered by the EV battery and therefore an increase in the use of such services will reduce the battery charge available for electric driving.
Cold temperatures also reduce the speed of charging, and depending on the exact conditions, charging speeds can be reduced by 30%. It is also the case that regenerative braking does get impacted in colder conditions i.e. it is not as efficient at recouping energy lost as heat during braking.
In other respects, sub-zero driving conditions impact an EV the same way it impacts an internal combustion engine (ICE) petrol or diesel car i.e. the road surface becomes slippery, and in general driving conditions are more hazardous. Always best to drive with caution and with an appropriate set of winter tyres.
So, if you do live in sub-zero temperatures, we would recommend you to always make sure you have adequately charged the EV battery, and planned your trip to include the potential reduction in performance in emission-free range. Also worth taking advantage of any preconditioning feature to heat the EV cabin while still connected to your home charging point.
Of course, before buying a plug-in electric car, we would encourage you to research in detail the range of the EV, impact of the cold on the specific EV and the overall fit of a potential EV for your needs. The bottom-line is that most of the latest all-electric cars like to award-winning Tesla Model 3 have a zero-emission range adequate for most commuters between 150 miles to 300 miles (WLTP). Moreover, the performance of the EV batteries has vastly improved since the launch of the first generation of electric vehicles (EVs).
We also hope to see new EV battery technology develop further, to include solid-state batteries, which has the potential to perform better than lithium-ion batteries in extreme cold environments. But as mentioned above, we in the UK are fortunate to live in relatively mild temperatures through the year, so for many of us, the issue of sub-zero driving is not as pertinent!
For those of you seeking to buy EV home charging points, we offer a vast range of high quality and high performance electric car charging points at competitive prices. We also offer EV charging cables, EV leasing and green energy.