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Can Electric Vehicles Handle a Cold Winter?

The leaves are falling, the days are shorter, and there is a little chill in the air. It’s the time of year we start preparing for colder days ahead. For Canadian drivers, icy streets and snow call for winter tires, ice scrapers and patience.

There are so many myths and misconceptions about EVs in the winter that it can make you question whether an EV will fit your needs year-round. Maybe this is your first winter with an electric vehicle, or perhaps you’re considering purchasing an electric vehicle but have some reservations about winter performance. In any case, let us help dispel any of the false stuff you might have heard.  

EVs perform great in the winter, with some drawbacks and even a few benefits.

In Canada, most of us have experienced a cold, stubborn car not starting on a frosty winter’s day. It’s usually the battery, and maybe that’s where the common misconception about EVs and winter was born. Although both internal combustion vehicles and EVs often use a 12-volt battery to get the engine going, electric vehicles demand very little power to start up. For an EV, it’s just the lithium-ion battery to wake up, and boom, you’re good to go. Gas-powered vehicles have a whole engine to heat up; therefore, that little 12-volt battery (particularly when it’s weak) might struggle to be reliable when the temperatures dip.

Drawbacks of Electric Vehicles in Winter

The biggest drawback for EVs in the winter is the impact of cold weather on an electric vehicle’s range. The range of an EV can be cut by as much as 50% in frigid temperatures. Surprisingly, this is not a reflection of the performance of EV batteries in the cold. It’s actually quite the opposite.

Electric vehicles are too efficient.

Yes, you read that right. In a gas-powered vehicle, there is a lack of efficiency in converting gasoline energy into motion, so the result is heat generation. This heat generation can be used to warm the car’s cabin, keeping you all toasty as you drive.

EVs are so efficient that they don’t produce enough waste energy to heat the cabin. Therefore, electric vehicles must use battery energy to heat the cabin instead of using it to propel the vehicle—the result is a faster-draining battery that reduces range.

Another minor drawback with EVs in cold weather is that the regenerative braking functions can be limited. When this function is limited, less energy can be recovered and returned to the battery. So again, this can impact your EVs ability to recharge the battery while decelerating or stopping.

Benefits of an Electric Vehicle in Winter

  • EVs are reliable to start even in the coldest of temperatures
  • You don’t need to wait for the engine to heat up
  • Traction in the snow is fantastic thanks to the battery located on the top of the axles giving a low center of gravity.

Optimizing your Electric Vehicle for Winter

You can do a few things to enhance your EV for the cold winter months. Here are a few helpful tips to follow before you hit the road…

  • Park your EV in a garage to protect it from the cold, ice and snow.
  • If you don’t have access to a garage, try to park in the sun.
  • Keep the battery plugged in to ensure a full charge.
  • Make sure you know where all the charging stations are on your route in case your battery gets low. There are apps for that. 
  • Learn the settings in your EV. Some apps enable pre-set charging and set controls to preheat the battery, seats and steering wheel. These settings allow you to prepare your car for the road before unplugging it.

While you’re on the move…

  • Limit your speed to achieve a greater range.
  • Bundle up and limit your use of the heater while driving. (EVs with heated seats are a much more efficient way of heating occupants than heating the air in the cabin)
  • Keep your battery charged with a 20 percent reserve to allow energy to keep the cabin and the battery warm.

What Canadians should look for when shopping for an EV

Make sure the quoted battery range of the electric vehicle you are looking at suits your driving needs. What’s better, make sure that if you deduct about 50% of that range, you will still have enough juice to get you where you need to go when the temperatures drop.

Most new EVs come with a heat pump nowadays but if you are looking at a used electric vehicle, check to see if it comes with this technology. A heat pump provides a more efficient way of heating the inside of your EV without stealing range. Looking for an EV with heated seats is recommended. Heated seats use less energy than air and feel pretty nice on the bum.

If you were skeptical about EVs in the winter, we hope this has put your mind at ease. At, we have a great selection of quality used electric vehicles that can warm up even the frostiest of days. Every single one of our used EVs goes through a rigorous 150-point inspection to ensure that the EV you purchase is ready for your wintertime road trips. We’re so confident you will love your “new-to-you” winter ride that we back it up with a 10-day money-back guarantee. Browse for your winter ready, used electric vehicle from the comfort of your home in your warmest flannel pajamas at Drive Clean, Drive Green. Your Electric Vehicle, Delivered.