Winter Is Coming: 5 Tips To Maintain Your EV Range
Winter weather is fast approaching in the northern hemisphere, and we’ll be prepping our EVs to ensure we get the most efficient range and, most importantly, stay safe on the road. The ideal temperature for EV batteries is about 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit, and they can lose up to 20% of range in extremely cold conditions (compared to a similar 15-20% of MPG for gasoline cars). We’ve put together this list of recommendations to help keep you charged and ready for all your winter adventures.
1. Follow The 80/20 Rule
Keep your battery charge level no lower than 20% and stop charging at 80%, unless you need the range for a long journey. Charging takes the longest for that first and last 20%, and you don’t want to risk being stranded in the cold with a dead battery.
This will also extend your EV battery’s life. Just like your smartphone, your EV's battery will last longer if you prevent it from charging to 100% or running it down to zero. Lithium batteries have less wear and tear when moving energy in and out in the middle 60% range of a battery's capacity, which is why long-range EVs have a trip mode and a daily driving mode.
The 80/20 rule does have a few exceptions. Tesla recommends charging the battery in its rear-wheel-drive vehicles to 100 percent, even for daily driving, so EV drivers should consult their owner's manual for charging recommendations for their specific model.
2. Precondition Before Driving
Most EVs come with a prewarming or preconditioning feature in their app that allows you to warm up the car before you start driving, which will prepare the battery to move more efficiently and you can enjoy a more comfortable ride. Start prewarming while your EV is still plugged into the charger to save even more battery power, if possible.
3. Maximize Regenerative Braking and Eco Mode
One of the best features of EVs is their regenerative braking system (known as “regen”). How does it work? As soon as you lift off the accelerator, the electric motor switches into a generator, slowing your car down as the wheels spin and return energy to the battery. When you use friction brakes, you're essentially wasting energy as heat that could've been put back into the battery pack.
Additionally, most EVs have a form of “eco-mode” which reduces power consumption by limiting the energy supplied to the motor and heaters. You may not accelerate as quickly, but this can also result in safer navigation amidst ice and snow.
4. Check Your Tire Pressure and Wheel Alignment
Regularly check your wheel alignment and tire pressure to ensure you’re getting the most range out of each charge. Wheel alignment is important for safe driving in winter weather, and if your tire surface isn’t as flat on the road as possible, it can increase tread wear and reduce your range by up to 10%.
Your tire pressure light will only come on when the pressure is significantly low, but even mildly under-inflated tires can cost you a 0.2% drop in mileage for every pound per square inch (psi) that they are under the manufacturer’s suggested tire pressure. Your tire pressure being too low (or too high) also wears the tires down faster, leading to an earlier replacement.
5. Use Your Steering Wheel and Seat Warmers
A study by AAA found that EV range drops by about 40% when using the heater in cold temperatures, but it uses less energy to keep on seat and steering wheel warmers. In colder climates, taking advantage of alternate heat sources can keep you warm and comfortable while using less of your heating system.
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