The introduction of electric vehicles has revolutionized transportation, offering environmental and economic benefits. Despite their potential, a new test reveals electric cars are practically unusable in winter, spotlighting significant challenges for EVs in colder areas. According to the American Automobile Association says that using full climate control could reduce EV driving range by up to 41%. To get better details we will explore their winter performance concerns, comparing them with ICE engines, and providing maintenance tips for EVs in cold climates.

New Test Reveals Electric Cars Are Practically Unusable in Winter

Cold temperatures can reduce the travel range of EVs by 10% to 36%, especially in subzero conditions. However, the impact differs among various models and brands. Let us find out how, and why electric cars lose range in cold weather?

1. Battery’s Chemistry

In cooler temperatures, the battery’s chemical and physical reactions slow down, leading to reduced EV power output. Cold temperatures inhibit these reactions, adding resistance to the processes.

2. Generating Warmth

In colder places, the waste heat from the car is used to warm the interior. Electric vehicles, however, are more efficient and produce less heat, so they often use the little heat they generate to warm the battery. This means that warming up the car in an electric vehicle usually requires using energy from the main battery, which reduces the power available for driving.

3. Charging Difficulties and Maintenance

To prevent battery damage, the charging capacity decreases and charging time increases in low temperatures. When the battery is below 30%, charge it promptly. The recommended charging temperature range is 0° C to 45° C.

Lithium-ion batteries, commonly used in EVs, depend on chemical reactions for electricity. Cold temperatures disrupt the flow of lithium ions between the anode and cathode, reducing battery efficiency and potentially impacting driving range.

4. Driving and Safety Precautions

Regarding the revelations of a new test that electric cars are practically unusable in winter, it is important to monitor your vehicle’s range, the current weather, and road conditions to mitigate any range reduction. Moreover, electric vehicles are heavier than petrol and diesel counterparts, which may makes it difficult to manage skids.

Investing in a good set of winter tires will help reduce any handling issues, and they are equally important for EVs and conventional vehicles. Driving an electric car in winter can be challenging, but with regular maintenance like checking the windscreen washers, antifreeze, and tire pressures, it’s still manageable.

5. Varying Electric Cars

Electric cars show varying responses to cold, with tests indicating significant differences in range reduction among models. Many systems in today’s internal combustion engines require optimal temperatures to function properly, which can take longer in cold weather. In contrast to electric vehicles, the impact of warm and cold weather on the efficiency of traditional vehicles is generally less noticeable.

new test reveals electric cars are practically unusable in winter
Graph Credits: Recurrent Auto

What are the Tips to Maintain EV in Winter?

The answer to do electric cars lose range in cold weather is yes, but there are ways to tackle it. Here are some ways to ensure optimal battery performance in winter.

1. Preheat your vehicle: Use smartphone apps to pre-warm your EV before driving, saving energy. Turn on the heaters while plugged in to maximize efficiency.

2. Battery Charging Practices: Charge your EV overnight to improve efficiency and range. Do not use fast charging in freezing temperatures. Opt. for level 1 charging for extensive use.

3. Activate Eco Mode: This improves efficiency and traction on slippery roads by limiting power to the drivetrain and cabin heating. This conserves energy and extends the vehicle’s range, especially in cold weather. Driving at low speeds in winter also helps save battery power.

4. Tire Maintenance: Cold weather can decrease tire pressure for every 10° decrease in temperature, tire pressure can drop by one PSI. Before winter, make sure to check the tire pressure, tread wear, and overall condition of your EV’s tires. Replace worn-out tires because tire rubber degrades over time. Check tire pressure regularly to improve electric vehicle range.

5. Proper Vehicle Storage: Storing your EV indoors, like in a garage or a sheltered parking facility, helps protect the battery during cold weather. It’s important to keep your EV shielded from the elements, whether at home or in other parking options like shopping malls.

6. Utilize Regenerative Braking: It is especially useful in the colder months to improve battery performance and range. It regulates vehicle speed on ice roads while charging the battery with energy generated during braking.

The new test reveals electric cars are practically unusable in winter, highlighting concern, especially regarding battery performance, cabin heating, and charging. Implementing recommended maintenance suggestions for EVs can eliminate limitations, ensuring they remain a viable option. Explore our website for additional tips and guides on EVs.

Recommended: Do Electric Cars Lose Range Over Time?


Olivia is committed to green energy and works to help ensure our planet's long-term habitability. She takes part in environmental conservation by recycling and avoiding single-use plastic.

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