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Electric Car Cold Weather Effects

How do Electric Cars operate in Cold Weather Climates?

Written by Bryan Johannsen

Electric Cars in the ColdWhen you live in an area that gets extremely cold during the winter purchasing any car is not as simple a task as it is in warmer areas. Cold batteries won't turn over the engine, engine coolant can freeze and so on.

With an electric car the problem of engine coolant freezing and cracking the block isn't a concern but extreme cold has an effect on the batteries that power electric cars.

All batteries deliver their power via a chemical reaction inside the battery that releases electrons. When the temperature drops the chemical reactions happen more slowly and the battery cannot produce the same current that it can at room temperature. A change of ten degrees can sap 50% of a battery's output. In some situations the chemical reactions will happen so slowly and give so little power that the battery will appear to be dead when in fact if it is warmed up it will go right back to normal output.

Batteries also constantly "leak" power so this is why many people store their AA cell batteries for their household appliances in the freezer. It allows them to keep longer.

Cold Effect on Electric CarsIn a car where all power is supplied by a battery pack you can see where this would be a problem. The batteries don't produce as much power so the car has less power. The batteries also have to work harder so the effective range of the car is also significantly reduced. Charge time will also be longer, cold has a negative impact on all aspects of battery operation.

Alongside the negative impact on the batteries cold also has a negative impact on the driver as well. Drivers need to be warm to operate the vehicle effectively so on top of the reduced range and power of the batteries just from the temperature they also must operate the car heater to keep you warm. This will further reduce the range of the car.

If you live in an area where the winters get extremely cold an all electric vehicle will have to be garaged and equipped with some kind of plug-in battery warmer for it to be effective in the coldest months of the year. Keep these thoughts in mind if you're planning an electric car purchase, we don't want you finding out the range of your car has been halved when it's five below zero and you're fifteen miles from home.

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