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EV Tips: Driving Electric Cars in Winter

    Travel & Transportation    March 5, 2019

This winter we have seen our share of challenging weather. I have often been asked how EVs manage in snow and slush and on icy roads. And what about the range??

So here’s my take on driving an EV in the winter.

First…Creature comforts. In an EV, use the heated seats and if you have one, the steering wheel heaters. They work really well, and a warm bum and hands helps you to stay warm without having a really hot cabin. The cabin heat and defogger use a bit of juice, so I keep the cabin at a low set temperature, and cycle the defogger on and off.

Better yet, if you have access to your car via your phone, pre-warm the cabin before you leave for the day or before heading out from your performance at ArtSpring.

You will lose distance during the Winter months. The combination of reduced battery efficiency and reduced re-generative braking, increased use of headlights, heater, high friction winter tires, all take their toll. But you get used to it very quickly and the distance comes back in the spring with the daffodils. My first generation old Leaf has a small battery and limited range, so it does pay to baby it through the cold weather.

I have good winter tires on my Leaf and I find with the constant torque from the electric motor that it performs very well in the snow and ice. So far there is not an affordable all wheel EV available.

The longer range models hitting the market now (Chevy Bolt, Hyundai Kona Electric, Kia e-Niro and Soul, Nissan Leaf Plus, Tesla) will also see a drop in range with winter driving, but for on island use you will be fine, and on a longer journey off island, fast charging is more and more available and you can happily plan that winter road trip.

We have over 200 EVs on Salt Spring and to my knowledge none of them has got stuck or run out of battery so far this winter.

So what’s really good? Plug your car in when you get home, and walk away. It will be full and ready to use in the morning. It will cost you a fraction of the gas of an equivalent ICE car. You will produce ZERO emissions, ZERO particulates. You make very little noise. If you have solar panels, you can literally run on sunshine, on energy you create in your own back yard that does not need to be mined, processed, transported, and burned to make your car run. Failing solar, you will run 95% on water power provided by BC Hydro.

So if the temperatures are really frigid, you might have to make a few adjustments to baby your EV, but that should not make you avoid buying one. They are still the best, cleanest and most enjoyable forms of transportation on the road today.

EV Tips from Jim Standen and the EV Group
Promoting Sustainable Transportation on Salt Spring Island

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