It’s a fact: electric cars don’t like the cold, with range and power at half-mast when winter arrives. But which model limits damage the most? An American company has just published a ranking, an opportunity to find out more.
Electric cars aren’t so different from us, after all: they don’t like it when it’s very cold either. It is the battery, more precisely, which becomes grumpy, with increasing consumption and difficulty in reaching its theoretical power both for the engine and during recharges.
To better illustrate these drops in performance, the American company Recurrent, specialized in monitoring the health of electric car batteries, has updated its ranking of models that limit the most damage compared to the summer season. And not everyone is in the same boat!
More reliable data
This is a big step forward compared to last year’s study, which we had already relayed: this new version only contains verified data and no longer estimated. 10,000 cars were analyzed, allowing much more realistic results to be displayed.
And we have… two winners. In the category of “vehicle with the most autonomy in icy conditions”, the Hyundai Kona wins, since the Korean SUV is still capable of covering more than 330 kilometers between two charges. Let us specify here that this is the old model (the new one has just arrived in dealerships, it is normal that it does not appear in the study) with the large 64 kWh battery.
And in the category “vehicle losing the least autonomy in winter”, surprise, it is the Audi e-tron! However, this is a more recent electric car, with a presentation in 2018, but the brand’s teams have done a good job with a reduction in autonomy contained at 16% compared to optimal conditions.
Not everyone can say the same
These results are all the better as the rest of the models lag further behind, with an average drop of 30% in autonomy observed in winter. In the lot, Teslas limit damage, with autonomy reduced by 25% on average. The Volkswagen ID.4, on the other hand, brings up the rear, with a 46% reduction in travel distance between charges in freezing weather compared to summer.
If you want more results, you can consult a European study published in February 2023, which allows for more models of electric cars sold in Europe. With a total of around thirty cars tested.
Other problems have also been reported, even though they are not quantified: charging times tend to lengthen. What you have to remember is that the colder a battery is, the more its performance will be limited – Recurrent also informs us that the different technologies of the latter (LFP, NMC etc.) react in approximately the same way . Still on recharging, regenerative braking can also be restricted, for the same reason.
Equipment exists to limit the loss
Once this assessment has been made, are there ways to get around these limits? Yes ! The first thing to do when buying your electric car is to look through the list of equipment and options, and above all, don’t hesitate to select a heat pump as well as heated seats, steering wheel and windshields. .
What you need to understand is that heating an electric car is extremely energy intensive. Where a thermal car can use the heat dissipated by its gasoline engine to maintain the cabin temperature, a battery car will only have to rely on its stored energy to power large resistors, causing a notable increase in consumption.
The heat pump, conversely, will capture the calories present outside to send them into the passenger compartment. Characteristics which make it possible to limit damage when temperatures drop, since Recurrent announces a gain of 25% compared to traditional heating at an outside temperature of 0°C). But this advantage logically tends to decrease when temperatures become polar: count between 3 and 15% in consumption saved when it is -7°C.
The heated seats and steering wheels use small resistors to heat the trim, causing much less consumption than if we only had to go through those used to heat the entire cabin. A little help is always good to take!
Preconditioning, your best friend
Another tip allows you to go even further in optimizing range in winter: preconditioning. Available in the central screen of your car, in the dedicated app or sometimes in the menus of your charging station, this tip allows you to define a departure time; the car will ensure that it reaches the target charge level at the desired time… but also preheats the passenger compartment using the energy from the terminal and not that from the battery.
Some cars even take advantage of this to bring the battery up to temperature, in order to avoid excess consumption when driving to reach its ideal temperature. Likewise, on certain electric cars, when heading towards a fast charging station, the battery heats up to be able to accept the highest possible power, even in winter. Hence the interest of the route planner.
This is therefore very beneficial for you, especially since maintaining a temperature is much less energy-intensive than reaching it. A little tip very appreciated by electric car drivers: arriving in the morning in an already warm car is a pleasure.
Finally, note that, fun fact, thermal cars are also affected by the cold! The official energy agency in the United States attests to this: count on 10% to 20% overconsumption in winter, or even peaks of +33% in the event of short journeys…