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EV owners will likely experience slower charging speeds and reduced range in winter with some taking to the Reddit forum (r/electricvehicles) to admit their car loses as much as 50 percent of range in the dead of winter. With this in mind, EV experts at Hippo Leasing have consulted experienced EV drivers to reveal tried and tested tips on getting the most range from their electric vehicles in winter.
Pre-condition the battery or pre-heat the cabin
Most EV drivers charge their car overnight so it’s ready for their morning journey.
One Reddit user suggested that drivers should “preheat the cabin wherever possible while plugged in”.
They added: “This will use energy from the grid to heat the vehicle before you drive off, rather than from the battery while you’re driving.”
Doing so not only heats the cabin ready for the journey, but it also preconditions the battery for the journey meaning the car doesn’t have to use the battery while driving to get up to optimum performance temperature (generally around 20°C).
Direct heat to the passenger, not the cabin
Internal combustion engine cars have waste heat that heats the passenger cabin, but this isn’t the case in an electric vehicle and blasting the heat to compensate can reduce an EV’s performance even further in winter.
One forum user suggested: “Instead of sacrificing warmth, use a more direct source for it. Heated seats can offer the same or better comfort than turning the heat up five degrees or so.”
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Charge according to journey time
Another user, after driving in temperatures as low as -7 degrees set the overnight charge to finish as close to his morning journey as possible as opposed to charging it the night before.
This meant that the battery didn’t have a chance to cool before being used on the road meaning there was no initial loss of range before setting off.
Charge to at least 90 percent to compensate for the loss of range
In freezing temperatures, battery management systems onboard electric vehicles reserve about 15-20 percent of the overall capacity in order to keep the battery at its optimum temperature.
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Instead of charging the car to what drivers think they need, they should charge it up to at least 90 percent to allow a margin for the loss of range from increased use of HVAC and battery management.
Reduce wind resistance by slowing down
One Reddit user claimed that “the most important tip is to slow down”.
They added: “If you just slow down a bit and go the speed limit or five under, your range will increase significantly.”
Naturally, when doing higher speeds on motorways drivers are using more energy to go the same distance.
The experts suggest that if motorists have plenty of time, they should look for alternative slower road routes on a GPS before embarking on their journey.
Rebecca Marsden, Electric Vehicle Specialist at Hippo Leasing, said: “It’s widely known that cold weather can impact fuel efficiency in ICE vehicles, but the way the cold affects electric vehicles is slightly more pronounced.
“Operating range is one of the most important performance metrics of an electric car and lithium-ion batteries onboard it can be impacted by a drop in temperature.
“The ions in lithium-ion batteries, like the one onboard electric vehicles, struggle to move around in the cold. This in turn has an impact on an EV’s range overall.”
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