Electric Cars OK in Winter

In honor of what seems to be a national snow day (I don’t even want to hear from my in-laws in southern Florida right now), I wondered how the EVs of the world were faring in cold, icy, and snowy conditions. Again, I turned to the helpful members of the Oregon Electric Vehicle Association to answer my questions.

A few of the problems with EVs in winter:

  • Some, especially conversions, don’t have a heater
  • The locks on older cars used for conversions can freeze up
  • Lead acid batteries left in the cold lose 10-20% of their range

A few benefits of EVs in winter:

  • They don’t have to warm up – “instant on” no matter the temperature
  • Newer lithium, NiCd, and NiMH batteries lose less power than older lead batteries
  • All batteries can be charged in a toasty garage with minimal power loss

One OEVA member said his ZAP car drives fine in the snow for his short commute, and another has a factory-built Chevy S10 pickup with a little diesel-powered heater, so he does fine. One guy mentioned that he’d put so much time into his conversion that he couldn’t bear to drive it in questionable conditions, so he drives his “store-bought” car when it’s snowy out, but one other guy said he’s got a battery-powered quad that he plays with in the snow.

So it looks like EVs aren’t much better or worse in the snow and ice than gasoline-powered cars. But the EVs can plug in overnight rather than take a trip to the gas station, and they emit zero pollution. So they do have that going for them.

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