Driving in cold weather or even snow is challenging for electric car drivers. Even though electric motors as well as their digital controls have been made to provide great control and traction, there are other factors that need to be taken into account when driving electric vehicle on show and ice. Electric car drivers should consider how far they go and how long it takes them to get the battery recharged. Unfortunately, cold weather hurt both. This is the reason why electric car struggle in the cold. In order to solve the problem, it’s better to understand further how it can happen.
Why electric car struggle in cold
Electric cars are powered by lithium-ion batteries (batteries used in laptops and cellphones). The batteries are very sensitive to temperature. Batteries are indeed like humans. Just like people do, batteries prefer particular temperature range. The ideal temperature range for lithium batteries is between 60 – 89 degrees. They won’t be able to deliver the best performance if the temperature is below or above the ideal range.
If the temperature extremely drops, the electrolyte fluid contained in the battery cells gets slugger. As a result, there is not adequate power when you need to charge the battery. Actually modern electric cars are made to encounter the problem. However, while the internal combustion engines produces its own heat, the car will try to find the warm from another source by either running a heater or scavenging the heat from the inverters. It takes a lot of energy. As a result, there is not much power to move the wheels.
Furthermore, the onboard computer, one of the most crucial component of an electric car that functions to protect the battery, will not work optimally in a very low temperature. When the weather is very cold, the energy of the battery is not fully available on the drive as the battery is too cold. Compared to the use in warm weather, an electronic car will cover about 20 percent fewer miles in the cold.
The freezing weather also leads to a problem in putting electrons into the battery. First, it hinders regenerative braking. As a result, the car can only regain little power and drivers can’t rely on one-pedal driving. For experienced electric car drivers, this might not be a big problem as they are already used to the quirk. However, some first-time electric car drivers might find it difficult to deal with.
What you can do
If you experience the problem above, don’t get desperate. There are some solutions to solve the problem. The most important thing to do is to keep your battery power below 20 percent. Even when you are driving near an outlet, too low battery power won’t get you out of trouble. It’s because too low power (below 20 percent) is likely to fail to power up your car in subzero temperature.
Today, researchers in some automobile manufacturers are working on some solutions to optimize the cold weather coping capacity of electronic vehicles. They are trying to program the navigation system to make fast charging possible. In addition, a battery is going to be designed in such a way that it can release some of its energy when it’s cold to keep it warm. It seems to be a difficult task, but driving on a cold battery is wasteful especially with high resistance.
In the future, scientist are working on batteries with solid state to address the problem. This kind of battery doesn’t contain any liquid instead. Therefore, it won’t be sensitive to cold temperature. Unfortunately, they are still being tested. Probably it will need 5 to 10 years before they are used massively in electric vehicles.
Until you get to see an electric car with solid state batteries in your garage, what you need to do is to prevent your battery from draining in cold weather. In addition to keep the power above 20 percent, using eco-driving mode and preheating the car before it is used are other useful things to do to protect your car batteries from the cold. Also, if you are planning to drive long distance, it is better to charge the car as little as an hour before leaving.