Electric Cars Power On Through Harsh Yukon Winter

JAN 22 2019 BY STEVEN LOVEDAY 23

It turns out, an electric car can be an asset in frigid winter weather.

Yes, EVs lose range in cold climates. Yes, we’ve reported on many owner problems with some electric cars in freezing temperatures. However, as CBC reports, some Yukon-based EV owners are very satisfied with their electric vehicles, despite frigid temps and difficult conditions. Regardless of expected range loss, these cars start immediately and easily, as well as offering enough range to suffice for many drivers.

CBC talked to Tesla Model 3 owner Mike Simon. He lives in the Yukon and deals with temps as low as -40C. While there are no dealerships in the Yukon that sell EVs, interested candidates can travel to areas like Vancouver to buy them. Simon shared:

I am quite pleased with it. It has started and it runs in all temperatures. You don’t get any ugly engine noises in the morning, it just starts rolling.

I’d recommend to get a battery that is twice the range of your daily commute just to be on the safe side. For me, it’s [Tesla Model 3] more than I need for my daily commute for sure.

If you live in an area with a relatively cold climate and can’t splurge for a Model 3, the Nissan LEAF may be a good option. Of course, it doesn’t have active thermal management. However, that’s an issue that impacts owners in warm climates. For this reason, the LEAF is known to be a fantastic and inexpensive EV option for those that don’t deal with really hot temperatures.

The new 2018 Nissan LEAF offers a respectable range (151 miles), and a longer range version is on the way with a 226-mile range. However, Yukon-based owner Shane Andre owns a used 2012 LEAF. Its range of about 80 km in cold weather is still adequate for his needs, and the car is reliable. He tells CBC:

 … you might not go out to the hot springs on a cold day. I do have to drive it every day. It needs to be able to get me to work and I need to be able to pick up my kids from school.

It starts fine. As long as it’s plugged in overnight, it’ll charge the battery. I also have a timer that warms up the interior of the car before I leave, so it’s nice and toasty.

There are only 12 battery-electric vehicles registered in Yukon, and the area offers only two charging stations. So, it makes sense that some people in the region have decided to purchase hybrids and PHEVs. CBC talked to the Gilgans — a retired couple in Whitehorse — who own a 2018 Toyota Prius Prime. Its 40 km range works just fine for their needs, even when reduced by cold weather. Gordon Gilgan said:

We’ve driven the car just over 1,600 kilometres and we’ve put no gas in it.

Because we’re travelling in the winter, we always wear outdoor clothing. There’s no need to heat the cabin to room temperature. All we need is to make sure the windows are clear for winter driving. The heated seats and steering wheel do make it comfortable for winter driving.

In the end, all the contention about electric vehicles and cold weather is disproved by these cases. Sure, as with any car, it has to suit your lifestyle. It must offer enough range for your daily commute, etc. But, in the end, to say that an EV is not suitable for anyone in cold climates is pure hogwash.

Source: CBC

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23 Comments on "Electric Cars Power On Through Harsh Yukon Winter"

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Funny, one co-worker just asked me if electric car start in winter, I guess his next question will probably be: can you go in a car wah with an electric car

I guess one of the biggest reasons for this is because most ICE cars fail in the cold because their battery is older/weaker and can’t provide enough charge on cold days.

When you consider that it does explain why so many question the ability of EV’s to move in those sort of conditions.

As the owner of a 2012 Leaf in Canada I would say a lack of thermal management is absolutely important in cold climates. It may be crucial in hot climates but battery heating would be really useful here too. My experience is similar to the guy in the article but it would be so much better if my battery could warm itself up when it was plugged in. Frozen batteries don’t perform well when it’s cold and my Leaf doesn’t regen in the winter because the pack is so cold. My round-trip commute is 30km in a day. On days like today where it’s -25C I know I can get to work an back but I may not be able to do groceries on the way home. And because I bought a used 2012 Leaf with one bar of battery degradation I know my margin for error on the cold days like today is small, and heating the cabin really eats up the range. The GOM may say 80km’s but if the cabin heat’s on it could be 40km in the real world. In the summer month’s I have over 100km’s of range and it’s no problem. Winter’s are dicey… Read more »

My 2016 leaf has no problem with extreme cold. No need for TMS since its having a heater for the battery has standard equipment in Canada. Sure the range suffer from heating the cabin but I’ve enough to get me around.

The Leaf has a battery heater. I believe it only kicks in at -14 in order to prevent battery damage. It is not designed to bring the temperature of the battery up very far. Would be nice if it could be controlled to heat more. If the car is plugged in I don’t see why that couldn’t be an option.

The North American LEAFs after 2010 all have the battery heater. I have a U.S. model imported to Canada used. They all kick in at -17C and turn off at -10 C. I live in Saskatchewan where it’s very cold but not as much as when I was a kid. We do have some -30 C mornings occasionally in winter and the car works great. The battery heater will come on and is indicated by a single flashing blue light on the dash (the 3rd one I believe.) True about range taking a huge his and regen not there until the system is warmed up. If you drive it enough, all the regen will come back. With larger batteries, none of this will matter. I gravitate to the LEAF before my Prius on a cold morning because it heats up fast. I understand your concerns but I actually think you do have a battery heater. Have you checked the manual?

If your home charge is timed to complete just before you leave of a morning the battery will warmed from the charge up so no problem.

Do Not Read Between The Lines

It shows they _work_ in the cold, but to be clear, while the interviewees live in the Yukon, they’re in Whitehorse, a small city of 25k people, not out in the sticks.

That’s pretty funny. I guess all things are relative. In California, a town “out in the sticks” would be some place less than 100k people. In fact, my city has more than 250k, and most people in California don’t even know where it is.

The whole of Yukon has a population of 35k people!

Close enough! The 2016 census reported a Yukon population of 35,874,

It’s even better in the sticks. I live 30 km out of town in north central B.C. and drive 80 km every day. Not only is my Bolt stable like a 4×4 on hard snow and ice, it also saves me $400 each and every month. Electric cars shine when you have to drive a lot.

Not that absurd. 40km is the EPA rated range of the Prime. If they keep the car in a heated garage and as they say don’t run the heater, I don’t see why they can’t get 40km of EV range out of it, especially driving gently in the city.

I test-drove the Prime in -11 C to -15 C. The range is reduced and the gas engine comes on for several minutes at a time to heat. I was going to buy it as a second car to our used ’13 LEAF but that turned me off. I will now wait until our lease runs out on our normal ’17 Prius and buy a fully electric vehicle. Assuming price/range/chargers deployment improves in the next few years.

-10°C this morning whith snow. Pure electric EV range has been 18.9 km with our Prius Prime in southern Canada. Average 30.3 kWh/100km. Heating set at 20°C.

I wonder if the folks in the story store the car in a heated garage. That might make some difference.

We own a Prius Prime in southern Canada.
Reading in your article “2018 Toyota Prius Prime. Its 40 km range in the cold works just fine for their needs.”

My average in EV mode (when available, almost never hapen in coldest days) in January is 22.4 kWh/100km in Jan 2019 and 22.6 kWh/100km in Jan 2018. That means 25 km.

Reading 40 km range in cold, in Yukon, make me laught. Is someone paid by Toyota to say or write that 40 km in winter in a Prime?

The last two nights have been the coldest so far this winter in Kingston Ontario. Around -24degC. You just get in and the thing goes. Both mornings the temp gauge was down in the blue but no problems. I don’t bother to preheat unless the windows are really frosted up and then only for a few minutes as that’s all it takes. If my old gasser even started this morning I would have had to leave it running for at least 10 minutes before the windows would even start to clear. Range is down to about 195km as I have to use the heater to keep the windows from fogging up.
It’s a 2018 Leaf S with 40kwh battery.

I own a 2018 FFE. Battery suffer in cold weather but i can manage to do between 130 to 140km on a full charge. For sure if the car is in the garage at 5c an i pre-heat the car it make a difference. Enjoy your EV in winter.

I wouldn’t recommend a Leaf for -40F temperatures. Operating at low temperatures also can damage batteries. Max current will be severely limited at such low battery temperatures.

2018 Works like a charm in -30°C. Luckily it doesn’t get much colder than that where i live, i can’t remember seeing colder than -33°C in recent years

this week we hit 8f or -13c and my Kia Soul dropped to 60 miles range. I love my heated steering wheel. I love my UVO app to preheat the car.

“Because we’re travelling in the winter, we always wear outdoor clothing. There’s no need to heat the cabin to room temperature.”

During winter driving, I like to set the interior temperature to 72F/22C. For someone to make that statement above, it’s called “sacrifice”. They sacrifice a warm interior for increased range.

Also, most people these days, if they drive, they don’t buy super warm jackets. They buy something warm enough to get them from their house to their car which will warm up, and from their car into the mall. Once inside the mall, they don’t really want to be wearing a heavy jacket.