Due to "Range is key for EVs," there's been loads of negative coverage about EVs in cold weather. But ...
Since electric vehicles first came to market, range anxiety has been one of the biggest issues. So, of course, mainstream media still puts range at the forefront in most reports about electric cars. For this reason, there has been plenty of negative coverage about EVs in cold weather. The articles have even come from the likes of AAA and Consumer Reports.
While it's true, electric vehicles do suffer range loss in cold weather, so do all cars, though to a lesser extent. It's important to note, however, that an EV will still save you money (more on that below). Moreover, if you add up all the other advantages of electric cars overall and in winter weather, the win over gas-powered cars is abundantly clear. Fresh Energy reports on several reasons that EVs are amazing winter cars.
First of all, let's get the range issue out of the way. Today's batteries are larger, meaning many of today's electric cars offer more range. Improving technology means that these batteries lose less range than they did in the past. Recent reports point to as much as a 50-percent range loss depending on conditions, while other reports point to 30-40 percent. As we've previously reported, the EPA says gas-powered cars and hybrids can see a range hit of some 12-34 percent in cold weather. So, yes, EVs will suffer a bit more, but it's not exponential.
So, with range aside, why is an electric vehicle advantageous as a winter vehicle?
EVs offer instant heat. They don't have to be "warmed up" like a gas car. Plus, they're almost sure to start regardless of the temperature. You can precondition your cabin and your battery while the car is plugged in, which means you're not using energy from the battery, but instead, energy from the location that the car is plugged in. No more cold starts, cold cabins, rough idling, etc. In terms of preheating the car, in many cases you can just grab your phone, open up the vehicle's app, and get the car immediately warmed up before you venture out. Even if a gas-powered car offers remote start, it still takes quite a bit of time to get the cabin warm and cozy and you can't do it in a garage or indoor parking structure.
Electric vehicles' instant torque and low, heavy center of gravity are other keys to the cars' success in winter. Not only are EVs fun to drive, they're also better at staying grounded and getting/maintaining traction on snowy, icy surfaces. Modern traction control pairs well with electric motors and is especially useful in dual-motor, all-wheel drive electric cars. However, as we've shared on numerous occasions, even sporty, rear-wheel-drive EVs like the Tesla Model 3 perform surprisingly well in slick conditions.
According to Fresh Energy's calculations, electric car range loss in cold temps doesn't mean you'll pay more to operate the car when compared to a gas alternative. Taking account for the loss of range, driving an EV for 1,000 miles (1,609 km) could still only cost you about $40. In contrast, a gas car that returns 25 MPG will cost you about $100 to fuel up for 1,000 miles of driving based on today's average gas prices.
Fresh Energy doesn't factor in how that 25 MPG car is impacted by the cold, but even if suffered only a 10-15 percent range loss, you could spend another $10-15 dollars on gas. Not to mention pricey maintenance and repairs that gas cars often need due to cold weather issues. What the recent articles fail to state is that even though EVs lose more range than gas cars in cold weather, they still save you money on "fuel/energy," and require virtually zero weather-related maintenance or repairs.
There are a number of other reasons electric vehicles are just plain better than gas-powered cars, cold weather or not. Once EVs reach price parity with ICE cars, charging infrastructure should also no longer be an issue. Additionally, during that time frame, battery tech will continue to improve, range will continue to grow, and technologies that further assist in cold weather will be improving as well.
Source: Fresh Energy