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Yes, Electric Vehicles Work In Winter — Better Than Gas Cars!

Electric vehicles (EV) and gas cars are not very efficient in cold weather. But while we’ve grown to blindly accept the limitations of traditional cars, EVs are still misrepresented, especially when it comes to cold weather. It’s time we nip that myth.

Electric vehicles (EV) and gas cars are not very efficient in cold weather. But while we’ve grown to blindly accept the limitations of traditional cars, EVs are still misrepresented, especially when it comes to cold weather. It’s time we nip that myth.

Electric Vehicles Work In Very Cold Temperatures

I remember trying to start my Alfa Romeo in Luxembourg on an early cold winter day. It didn’t want to start and I resorted to going back into the apartment where I was staying. The funny thing is an EV would have started. Yet, plenty of consumer and automotive groups still misrepresent EVs. (See this Fresh-Energy article for more on this topic.)

Many EVs are now coming onto the market with active thermal management. In other words, they have battery packs that keep the cells at a normal operating temperature. And that is not new either. The much-maligned CODA, which suffered a very unfair reputation, not only had over 100 miles of range 8 years ago but also had a very advanced thermal management system that made it possible to use the car in sub-zero and extremely hot conditions without any noticeable degradation. And yes, that was before Tesla’s sub-zero package.

The truth of the matter is that EVs warm up faster than regular cars. EV heat pumps do the same thing AC units do, except the other way around. They not only heat up an EV quicker than a gas car, but they can also preheat it without idling a gasoline engine. And the best part — you can do it while plugged in and not drain your battery, as you sit comfortably inside a building.

EVs are also slightly easier to drive in winter snow. Although, this depends greatly on the types of tires you have. Here are the pros and cons: Green, efficient tires are more pressurized than regular tires and offer less rolling resistance. The flip side is that some of them are not as sticky and won’t handle as well. However, you could spring for a good quality tire like a Michelin or Pirelli, or wait for the same quality a few years down the road from BF Goodrich, a Michelin company. In any case, tires matter, so make sure you have what you need for the conditions you’re in.

EVs Can Get Going Quickly In Winter With Everything Working

This is a hard concept for most gasoline car owners to grasp because an internal combustion engine (ICE) takes a while to warm up and then is only about a third as efficient. On average, only of the gasoline or diesel you put in the car moves the wheels. The rest is lost in heat and friction. In winter, you burn more of that fuel to warm the car and drive in cold temperatures. The same is true for EVs, but they are still dramatically more efficient than gas/diesel cars overall.

So, why do consumer groups still talk about matters that are quickly becoming moot with EVs? The latest Hyundai Kona EV and Kia e-Niro we tested certainly show that a $37,900 (don’t quote me on it just yet!) vehicle can give you more than 225 miles of range, plug in easily whether it’s hot or cold outside, and be ready to go and keep you warm without the inefficiencies tied to ICE vehicle designs.

I can’t help but think I’ missing countless other benefits EVs have over the gasoline and diesel cars. Maybe you can weigh in.

Related: 30 Reasons Your Next Car Should Be Electric

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Written By

Nicolas was born and raised around classic cars of the 1920s, but it wasn't until he drove an AC Propulsion eBox and a Tesla Roadster that the light went on. Ever since he has produced green mobility content on various CleanTech outlets since 2007 and found his home on CleanTechnica. He grew up in an international environment and his communication passion led to cover electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles, renewable energy, test drives, podcasts, shoot pictures, and film for various international outlets in print and online. Nicolas offers an in-depth look at the e-mobility world through interviews and the many contacts he has forged in those industries. His favorite taglines are: "There are more solutions than obstacles." and "Yesterday's Future Now"


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