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It’s Cold. Here’s What Happens to Electric Cars in Winter.

Driving in a winter wonderland - blog header

With winter in full swing, let’s talk about the change in range for electric car drivers. It’s no secret that cold temperatures reduce the range of a vehicle, whether electric or gas-powered. Recently, we hosted two webinars on the topic – one focused on winter driving in general and one focused on winter road trips. What better way to spend time indoors in the freezing cold today than catch up on the recordings?

Winter Driving 

Our winter driving webinar was a hybrid presentation and panelist webinar. In the first part of the webinar, we discuss how much range loss folks can expect, ways to mitigate range loss, the impacts of snow and ice, and more. In the latter half of the webinar, there's a great discussion with EV Ambassadors and participants. 

Driving Through A Winter Wonderland

The webinar recording is included above, but in the meantime, here are some of the key learnings: 

  • Why does range decrease in cold temperatures? 
    • Batteries perform best in warmer temperatures. Chemical and physical reactions in batteries occur more slowly in cold temperatures. Cold temperatures inhibit chemical reactions and act as resistance that slows down the physical processes. Thus more energy is needed for the battery to operate, which means there is less energy to put towards the range of the vehicle. 
    • Heating the cabin of an electric car uses a fair amount of energy and will lead to a decrease in range. 
  • How much range loss can I expect? 
    • According to the Norwegian Automobile Federation, drivers can expect to lose an average of 20% of their stated range at 32 degrees Fahrenheit.  
    • Recurrent Auto did a similar study with popular electric cars more recently. Their results illustrate that there’s significant variation between EV models and how much range they lose in the cold. Check out a snapshot of their results below. 


  • How can range loss be mitigated? 
    • Preconditioning  – Heat your car’s battery while it’s still plugged in. This way you don’t deplete your battery’s reserves to heat it.  
    • Utilize efficient heating features – Heating the cabin of your car is a big energy user. Try instead to use the heated steering wheel and heated seats that are common in most EVs. 
    • Drive efficiently – Turn on regenerative breaking and don’t speed! 
    • Park & charge somewhere warm – Whether that’s in a garage or a sunny spot, it’ll give your battery a chance to have a higher resting temperature and allow it to charge more efficiently.  
    • Battery Conditioning – A feature that certain cars have that can unlock a 50% improvement in charge time (not exactly range, but related!). It’s different from Winter Mode, which is aimed at warming the battery to improve performance in cold temperatures, Battery Conditioning mode heats the battery up to higher target temperatures for more efficient/faster DC Fast Charging. 

EV Chat: Holiday Road Trips 

For our second webinar, we invited EV Ambassadors to act as panelists and have an informal discussion about holiday road trips and answer questions from attendees.  

This particular EV chat features many questions about camping in cold temperatures and potentially camping overnight in one’s EV. (Hint: it’s possible, but you want to make sure your car is plugged in to keep the heat on.) Other topics included mitigating range loss, favorite charging apps (PlugShare and A Better Route Planner), planning trips, charging at New England ski/snowboarding slopes, winter tires and more!) 

EV Chat: Holiday Road Trips

A couple things to note on winter tires in particular: 

  • Generally speaking, any tire used on an EV needs to be different than your traditional tires used for gas-powered cars. Why? EVs are heavier due to their batteries and require tires that can handle their instant torque.  
  • That being said, some tire companies, like Michelin, design their tires (winter or otherwise) so they work for both gas and electric cars as long as the load capacity restriction is observed.  
  • Winter tires are handy to drive in ice and snow, but once winter’s gone, you’ll want to change back to summer or all-season tires to increase your car’s efficiency. 

Colder temperatures will mean a decrease in range, there’s no doubt about that. But that hasn’t stopped our EV Ambassadors from recommending electric cars to everyone they know! If you’re looking to start your electric car journey, check out our shopping tool or join our Drive Green Community Group to continue the conversation.