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Driving Electric Cars in Cold Weather: Effects and Consequences

The surrounding temperature affects anything and everyone. Not even your electric car is free from the harsh effects of cold weather. Both gas-powered and electric cars’ performances are affected by cold weather.

Petrol-based cars’ liquid fuel and lubricating oils may freeze in low temperatures when not heated. The event makes driving a nightmare for many drivers. In electric vehicles, the same thing may happen. Find out more about what happens when driving an electric car in cold weather.

What is the effect of cold weather on electric cars?

An electric car or electric vehicle (EV) has a battery pack consisting of lithium-ion (or Li-ion) with liquid electrolyte. Li-ion batteries comprised four parts: anode, cathode, electrolyte, and separator.

The cathode and anode store the lithium while separated by a thin plastic filter (the separator). The lithium ions are carried by the electrolyte between the anode and cathode, the filter allows only the ions to pass through.

During freezing weather: the electrolyte in which the power (or electricity) is stored; solidifies (or thickens). The thickening of the electrolyte during low-temperature weather causes the battery efficiency to drop dramatically. 

How freezing weather hampers battery performance?

What we are talking about is that the electric car battery is the one that will suffer the most when it is exposed to frigid weather. The outside temperature affects your car’s performance significantly.

When the temperature drops below 20F (-6.67C) during the winter months, EV batteries take extensive beatings. A study on electric car batteries suggests; driving in chilly temperatures: the battery range reduces by as much as 41%. It is more observable when car owners utilized their EV heaters during this time.

How to recharge in cold weather

Once you decide to drive your EV in freezing weather: ensure that you will be home with at least a 20% charge left on the battery. Do not let it drain. You will need the remaining power in warming the vehicle’s interior and the battery.

You can make do of a heated carport to keep the car warm and away from the harsh effects of cold environments. Try to keep the car plugged overnight to sustain a full charge the next day. 

Before going outside, keep the battery plugged while utilizing the reserved charge in conditioning the vehicle. Many latest electric cars have a pre-conditioning feature.

When reaching your destination, try to park in a place with sunlight to keep the vehicle warm. This way, the battery liquid may not freeze. 

How to drive in frigid weather

When driving in cold weather, try to ease up on speed. It will also help in draining the battery. If you go faster, the speed drains the battery quicker than driving at a regular speed. It is also safe driving at a normal pace as frigid weather brings fog and lower visibility on the road.

But God forbids! You may end up in an accident when the road is slippery when driving faster: especially when making a sharp turn. In case you plunged into the water: here are the fastest ways of getting out of the car. 

Furthermore, many electric cars have the same aerodynamic features as petrol-based vehicles. At higher speeds EV streamlined drag also increases (like conventional cars). In this manner, you may need extra power to compensate for the drag. Hence, the battery range decreases.

Moreover, your car’s wheels may slip in an icy road easily as a fossil fuel vehicle might do. You can select the Eco-mode setting in preserving the range of the battery. Many EVs have this feature: so you can utilize this attribute in prolonging the range of your battery.


The electric car revolution is continuing as we write this piece. We expect within five years: there will be new types of electric car batteries. They will be more responsive to cold.

For now, it is better you know the consequences that may happen when driving an electric car in cold weather. 

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