EV Life | February 20, 2019

5 Tips for EV Driving in Cold Weather


Colleen Jansen

Chief Marketing Officer and Senior Vice President, North America Policy

A Chevy Bolt EV in Snowy Seattle

This winter, temperatures in the Midwest dropped to a chilly 50 below as the region was pummeled by a polar vortex. We even got some snow in the foothills around Silicon Valley. No matter how chilly it gets, though, EV drivers have no reason to fear. While cold weather can affect your range, you can still get where you’re going in an EV.

Cold weather can reduce range because batteries are at their most efficient between 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The climate control systems in your car rely on your battery to run, so your range can take a double hit if you crank up the heat. But don’t worry, we’re here to help you keep zooming around on electrons this winter. 

Here are some helpful tips for EV driving in cold weather. 

1. Precondition when plugged in 

Take advantage of being plugged in at home, work or around town. Most modern EVs let you use an app or your key fob to start heating (or cooling, in summer... or in Arizona) the car before you get in. Precondition your car while you’re plugged in so your car is the right temp when you start your drive, without using your battery capacity. It’s super convenient to do this right in your garage. 

2. Use heated seats and steering wheels 

Heated seats and steering wheels are more efficient (because they warm up your body directly) and use less energy than the heater, so using them won’t have as much of an impact on your range. Make the most of these convenient accessories to keep toasty in the winter. This is especially important on short trips if you don’t precondition your car. 

3. Dress warm and drink up 

You’re probably already bundling up to go outside, so keep your winter wear on in the car. This will save you time and you and your coat will be warm when you get out at your destination. (To stay extra cozy, fill up your thermos with a hot beverage or swing by the coffee shop en route.) 

Stay Warm With Starbucks When You Charge

Tip: Use the ChargePoint app to find a charging spot near your favorite coffee shop. 

4. Be nice to your battery 

Batteries like consistency, so when possible, avoid running your battery super low or DC fast charging it a lot. While that’s always a good idea, it becomes especially important in extreme temperatures. Aim to stay between 20 and 80 percent charged whenever you can to maximize battery efficiency and longevity.  

5. Give others a helping hand 

EVs have a big advantage in the cold: they start right up, usually with the push of a button. No more cranking your key and flooring the gas pedal to start an internal combustion engine as you watch your breath freeze before your eyes and inhale gas fumes. In fact, your EV just might help jump-start a gas car this winter. 

Kia Niro EV Charges at Circle K in Norway

A Kia Niro charges up at ChargePoint Express 250 stations in Norway. 

Does the thought of driving an EV in winter still leave you feeling cold? Maybe it will help you to know that frigid Iceland, Sweden and Norway are among the top countries for EVs, and Canada is home to thousands of happy EV drivers. Plus, there are drivers using ChargePoint in all 50 states and all 13 provinces and territories. No matter where you live or how low the mercury dives, rest easy knowing you can drive electric with ChargePoint on your side. 

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