Car market

Electric Vehicle in Winter: In Words And In Deeds

Volvo Cars have shared some interesting information on how to use an electric vehicle in winter.

Volvo XC40 Recharge image

There are many myths about electric cars in winter. Most EVs are not inferior to internal combustion cars, and they are even better in some aspects if owners follow several simple rules.

Storage

In winter, it is better to keep electric cars in an underground parking lot or a garage to save energy. The heating of windows and mirrors consumes kilowatts. 10 minutes of heating can reduce the range by a few miles.

Volvo XC40 Recharge image
Volvo XC40 Recharge

If you leave the electric vehicle for a long time connected to a charging station, the battery receives 15-20 kWh of energy per night even from a household outlet: this is enough for 50-62 miles (80-100 km) in cold weather. If the car is capable to warm up the interior remotely, the power will come not from the battery, but from the network.

Charging

In modern electric vehicles, there are devices to heat the coolant circulating through the battery. Therefore, if the owner connects its cold electric car to a charging station at -5 or -10 °C, the vehicle will show the start of charging but consume some energy to warm up the coolant-antifreeze before replenishing power. So, the charging process in winter and summer is not fundamentally different for the EV owner.

Manufacturers recommend charging electric vehicles at home from a household outlet, or using the WallBox. When the car stays in a relatively warm room, less energy will be needed to heat the cabin.

When charging outdoors, take care of the cleanliness of a hatch that hides a connector, and a port itself: remove the snow for moisture not to get inside. Light rainfall is Ok for the original charging cable, but still it is not recommended to charge in rain or snow, for safety reasons.

Volvo XC40 Recharge image
Volvo XC40 Recharge – dashboard

However, a lot depends on the car charging unit: for example, in the electric Volvo XC40, thanks to the seal, the hatch fits snugly to the body, and moisture does not accumulate under it even in a blizzard.

Riding

The sources of electricity consumption in electric vehicles include driving, air conditioning, heating, cooling, lighting, windshield wipers, audio systems, etc.

In winter, Volvo recommends keeping the battery charged, at least 30-40%, because subzero temperatures reduce the battery capacity. In winter, there is a chance of getting caught in a traffic jam caused by precipitation.

Unlike ICE-powered cars, EVs do not need heating in winter before driving. At low battery temperatures, the onboard electronics will briefly limit battery performance for safe operation. The time of this warm-up is shorter than that of gasoline and diesel cars.

A critical point for electric vehicles is -10 °C: below this level, the range is significantly reduced. Above 10 °C, many electric cars use the battery for heating, but in severe frosts, an electric heater is additionally activated.

Volvo studies show that activated steering wheel and seat heating warms the driver and passengers significantly faster than a heat blower to warm the cabin air. For example, the XC40 Recharge is equipped with three-level heating for 4 seats and a steering wheel as standard.

The electric crossover has its advantages on slippery surfaces. The Volvo XC40 Recharge can be controlled with one pedal: when you release the accelerator pedal, the car automatically slows down due to energy recovery. This mode is recommended for slippery and snowy surfaces: it stabilizes the course and minimizes wheel blocking.

It is also important to choose efficient winter tires. High-efficiency rubber will increase the driving range on a single charge. Depending on the rolling resistance of the tire, its impact on energy consumption will vary from class A (best performance) to class E (baseline economy). Higher efficiency tires use less battery power and reduce environmental impact.

It is important to remember that tire pressure drops in cold weather. Therefore, you need to regularly check this parameter, because with flat tires the rolling resistance coefficient is much higher than that of wheels with normal pressure.

Modern electric vehicles have many systems that significantly improve driving comfort. For example, before driving in freezing temperatures, a Volvo vehicle can automatically turn on the heated windscreens and rear windows to minimize fogging and maintain visibility. The XC40 Recharge detects the difference between the cabin and the outboard temperature, then determines if the heaters need to be activated.

Modern electric cars in winter do not cause more difficulties than internal combustion cars, especially if you take into account operating conditions, if you know how EVs work and use all their capabilities.

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