EV Winter Driving

Consumer Reports »

Running the cabin heater, seat heaters, defroster, and other accessories that combat the cold weather inside the car all sap range. For cold temperatures, what we have found is that 20 degrees Fahrenheit and colder is when the range really drops.

We’ve done some testing on how the cold weather affects range, and one of the biggest takeaways is that a buyer needs to consider how many miles they drive in a typical day and double that number to determine the driving range that’s right for their needs. If you drive 50 miles a day, you’ll want an EV that has at least a 100-mile range. The good news is that many electric cars are getting 200-plus miles of battery range nowadays, and that number is generally improving from model year to model year. (Where this is a greater concern is with an older EV that may have lost some range due to the ravages of time.)

A key reason to choose added range is not only the energy demands but also the unpredictability of weather. You don’t want the stress of being caught in a winter storm not knowing how long the drive will take.

To reduce the impact of cold, park the car in a garage where it can remain on a charger. “It takes less energy to maintain a temperature than to raise it, so this can make a significant difference in range,” says Sam Abuelsamid, senior analyst at the automotive research and consulting firm Navigant.