E-car in winter - How to get through the cold season well!

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Article image E-car in winter

The topic of e-cars in winter occupies the minds of many people who are considering switching to electric mobility. In doing so, you can often be confronted with clichés and outdated information. For this reason, we would like to clear up the misinformation and give you the necessary know-how to get through the cold season relaxed.

Electric car in winter: Does the range change?

Many people are familiar with this: energy costs rise in winter, mainly due to heating. This is also the case with electric cars. The combustion engine consumes more petrol or diesel and is therefore at the filling station more often. An e-car in winter usually has to draw heat on the road from its battery power, which leads to faster discharge. The actual effects vary depending on the model - but on average, you can expect a reduction in range of around 10 - 30 %. The largest consumer is clearly the air heater. This is why city traffic, which is otherwise so fuel-efficient, is particularly affected by increased consumption in winter due to the many stops and interruptions. Longer journeys without interruptions are much less affected.

The second main reason for this phenomenon is familiar from one's own mobile phone: batteries reduce their performance in the cold. So it's true: electric cars often travel less far in winter than in warmer temperatures. But the deficits are no longer as extreme as they were with earlier models. On the contrary, the vehicles are evolving - and no one has had to freeze for a long time.

Heating an e-car: What you need to bear in mind!

You have already experienced how important heating is for an e-car in winter. However, there are still a few tips you should know:

  • No more ice scraping

    A parking heater can be very convenient, so you don't have to wait in the cold car until it heats up to reasonably comfortable temperatures. In principle, all electric cars are equipped with such a parking heater. In contrast to the combustion engine, they do not rely on the waste heat of the engine. The windscreen can also be quickly and easily defrosted. If the car is connected to the mains in the garage, electricity is not even used from the battery, so you start the day warm and with a full battery.

  • What do you have to pay attention to while driving?

    You should be careful to turn off unnecessary sources of heat. Some cars offer an economy function where only the driver is heated, an interesting alternative if you are travelling alone. If you are forced to make small stops, care should be taken to minimise heat loss. Avoid opening the doors or windows too often and drive on early enough to prevent the electric car and, accordingly, the battery from cooling down completely. Again, garages or other air-conditioned parking facilities are preferable.

  • Reduce electricity consumption with a heat pump

    If you want to conserve the battery and minimise the reduction in range, it is advisable to consider a heat pump. These can bring the outside air to a pleasant temperature with the help of refrigerants and waste heat. Since this requires less energy from the battery, the effective range increases compared to models without this special equipment. VW promised a range advantage of up to 30 % at temperatures as low as -25 degrees Celsius for the ID.3 and ID.4 models with heat pump. Unfortunately, this promise could not be fulfilled. So now more than 50,000 existing customers will be compensated and the purchase price of the heat pump reduced. This does not mean that a heat pump does not work, Auto Motor Sport assumes a range increase of 10 to 20 % with regard to comparable systems, but it should give you a realistic view of the performance of such a technology.

Charging an e-car properly in winter

In addition to the reduced performance of the batteries, very low temperatures also have an impact on charging. The charging process is significantly slower at low temperatures, you should know this and plan for it. In contrast to other seasons, you should definitely not rely on fast charging. Again, a garage will help. The temperature of the battery is primarily decisive for the charging speed. The car in the well-tempered garage at home hardly suffers any loss in charging speed, in contrast to the car in the open air. If you are interested in general tips and tricks on the subject of charging an electric car, take a look at our article Do's and Dont's when charging an electric car.

E-car in traffic jams: justified concerns?

One cliché that is far too persistent when it comes to e-cars in winter is the rapid discharge of the battery in traffic jams. In frosty temperatures, there is even talk of danger for the passengers. However, we can completely relieve you of this worry with a clear conscience. The ADAC wanted to be sure and tested under realistic conditions. The result? Even at temperatures of -9 to -14 °C, the batteries of the tested models Renault ZOE Z.E. 50 and VW e-up with a pleasant interior temperature of 22 °C and active seat heating lasted 17 and 15 hours respectively without any problems. Incidentally, the Renault ZOE Z.E. 50 has a medium-capacity battery. The battery in the VW e-up is even smaller. So the tests were by no means limited to vehicles with particularly large batteries. The heating capacity of e-cars in winter traffic jams is therefore comparable to that of combustion engines.

Increase range: This is how it works

So what do you need to consider in order to be able to travel with as much range as possible in winter? Ideally, you should put your e-car in the garage in winter to protect it from extreme cold and complete cooling. Use the existing charging infrastructure to heat up the e-car before use. In this way, you avoid unnecessary consumption of energy for heating. If possible, use the energy-saving settings and programmes available in the electric car. For example, the "Eco" driving mode can save energy and increase the range. You should avoid short stops, but if you are forced to do so, take care not to let the vehicle cool down completely as far as possible. You should also consider investing in a heat pump if you have the right driving profile. Saving energy is great, but please do not save on your own safety!

Our tips: How to get through the winter well

Driving with foresight and planning charging stops are generally recommended and are even more important for an e-car in winter than usual. Cold weather reduces the performance of the batteries. Heating also costs energy. The more you have to heat, the less is left for driving in the end. You can expect a reduction in range of between 10 and 30 %, which you should also keep in mind for potential routes. The increased charging time is also relevant here. By the way, you don't have to worry about your battery. Manufacturers use insulation to protect them from hypothermia and thus prevent permanent damage.

Conclusion

When it comes to e-cars in winter, two disadvantages are true: you will have to accept restrictions in range during the cold season and the charging process will take longer. If you bear this in mind, you can enjoy the advantages of an electric car in winter: convenient pre-heating of the car in the garage at the wallbox, no frosty waiting time until the waste heat is sufficient for heating and avoiding the annoying ice scraping. As long as you are informed and know about the effects of the temperature on your vehicle, you can get through the winter safely and comfortably!

If you have further questions on the topic of electromobility that we have not yet answered in our blog, please write to us at frag@umschalten.de!

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A contribution by Marcel Duparré

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