Winter’s coming. That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to prepare to fight off hordes of white walkers, but in extreme cases, as an electric car owner, you might become a walker yourself. When your battery drains unexpectedly – because of the colder conditions.

Do electric cars lose range in cold weather?

Yes, they do. Electric car range in cold weather can become shorter than what the driver is used to in summer or autumn. In most cases, this difference will not hinder your ability to move from place to place, but if you are planning a longer trip, it is worth considering finding an extra charging station along the way.

Why do electric cars lose range in cold weather?

Electric car range reduction in cold weather can stem from two factors. One is the chemistry of the battery itself – how many times have you noticed your phone draining its battery faster when it’s gotten cold outside? Same thing happens to electric car batteries. They’re chemical devices, in which chemical reactions going on inside are used to produce electric current. Low external temperatures can sometimes slow these reactions down, which can result in not as much current being offered to the receiving devices (like, say, an engine), and the perceived battery capacity being lower. This, in turn, will result in your phone lasting shorter or your car losing its range when it’s cold outside.

Cold weather impact on electric car range has one more side to it. When it’s cold outside, car usage tends to consume more energy. Heating the car interior doesn’t consume much extra energy when using a combustion engine. The heat it generates is a by-product of its work, a necessary energy waste that we can harvest and take advantage of in cold conditions – just blowing the hot air inside our car. With electric cars, the heat needs to be generated by an electric heater, which is a massive current sink – meaning a device that needs lots of power to function. Most modern electric cars have systems that take care of the battery’s working conditions – which means keeping it in the sweet spot of optimal working temperature range. In winter, it might mean that the systems will need some extra power for the extra work in that department. To sum up, cold weather will almost certainly mean fewer miles per charge. Some of that deficit will stem from pure chemistry and the way the cold weather affects your electric car battery, and some of it will be caused by the increased power needs – like heating the inside of the car up.

How much range do electric cars lose in cold weather?

Time for your favourite answer: it depends. The AAA (American Automobile Association) says that your electric car will most probably lose at least 12% of its range in winter. And that’s without the extra strain you put on the battery. When you’re using your heater, says the AAA, the available range can shrink by as much as 40%. The Norwegian Automobile Federation, on the other hand, says that on average, electric car owners can expect about 20% less range in winter. But what does “winter” mean here, exactly? At what temperature should you expect your battery to deliver less current than normally? Experts say that the optimal temperature range for electric car batteries is from 4 to 46 degrees Celsius. Anything below or above that will probably make the batteries underperform.  

So, if you’re asking yourself – will cold weather affect the range of my electric cars – the short answer is yes, it will, but the longer, more comprehensive answer is – it depends.  The most important thing to consider is whether you’re using your car to travel at short distances or if you’re planning a longer trip. In the first case, the shorter total range at your disposal probably won’t be a problem. If, however, the trip you’re planning is a longer one, it is worth your time to plan it out with more scrutiny than in summer. Finding an extra charging station and planning one extra stop might mean the difference between driving and… walking.

But remember, even if it comes to the worst, you can count on Allianz Roadside Assistance programs that will help you out of a difficult situation. Our base insurance includes immediate assistance – like towing your car to the nearest repair shop or charge point. When it’s possible, our mobility service will get your car up and running on the spot.

The extended roadside assistance program offers additional services along with everything the base option offers. With the extended option, you can also count on our help with car rental, hotel accommodation, or arranging your return home – if your car malfunctions or takes part in an accident. Regardless of which option you choose, you can count on our 24/7 support – we will stay in touch with you until the problem you encountered is resolved.