Electric car owners warned of major range issues

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Electric car owners are being warned about potential range issues as temperatures slowly decrease. Driving any vehicle in cold weather will increase its energy consumption due to factors such as having the heaters on to defrost the ice and keep the cabin warm in chilly conditions.

For electric vehicles, however, this can negatively impact the driving range, meaning drivers will travel fewer miles on one charge, according to experts at Hippo Leasing. 

The reason for this is that the battery may not be operating at its optimum level due to a mix of excess energy being used to heat the vehicle and the battery taking longer to charge.

According to an AAA study, electric cars can lose 12 percent of their range due to cold weather, with this increasing to 41 percent with the heating on full.

The increase in demand for energy (heating) is what will drain the battery and reduce range, not the cold weather.

Battery life can be maintained by keeping tyre pressure at the recommended level, keeping the weight down by travelling light and avoiding bad driving habits such as speeding and sudden braking.

Charging speed can also be affected by low temperatures. Depending on the model, the ideal temperature for an EV battery to run at its optimum performance is 20-40 degrees, which will not be the case during the winter season.

This can affect the charging speed which will drop considerably in an environment below zero degrees.

As a rule of thumb, the colder the weather, the longer EVs will need to spend at the charging points.

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The experts added that in the winter months, having the heating on more and for longer periods will however contribute to draining additional energy from the battery.

For this reason, waiting for the idling electric vehicle to warm up before setting off is not going to be ideal for maintaining good daily battery life during the winter.

Instead, if drivers have a home charger installed, it is a good idea to keep it plugged in whilst warming up the car to conserve that power and reduce the risk of a low battery further into the journey.

A benefit of this is, as it is electric powered, the vehicle won’t be emitting CO2 whilst warming up.

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Rebecca Marsden, a spokesperson at Hippo Leasing, said: “It is understandable that winter driving can make motorists cautious, and driving an electric vehicle is no different.

“Colder weather shouldn’t be a deterrent to electric vehicle ownership, especially as we tend not to have extreme winters in the UK.

“We would always recommend not driving in potentially hazardous conditions where possible, such as on snowy and icy roads, but it is important to always plan ahead and be prepared.

“Keep your breakdown cover policy details to hand in case of an emergency, a spare phone charger and spare warm clothing in your vehicle.

“Alter your driving according to the road conditions by keeping your speed down, predicting potential hazards and even rescheduling unnecessary trips until the weather is better.”

However, it’s not all gloom and doom for electric car owners, as EVs tend to be better at driving in snow. 

Thanks to the design of electric vehicles with heavy batteries low to the ground, they actually perform well in icy and snowy conditions.

The battery being lower means that the low centre of gravity will enhance greater handling capabilities in bad weather.

Electric vehicles are also gearless, resulting in a smooth transition when pulling away slowly on snow or ice.

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