Newly registered plug-in vehicles now represent more than one in four new cars on the UK roadsi, which means there are a lot of first-time EV owners getting to grips with battery based motoring this winter. As Brits prepare themselves for the return of severe weather conditions in the coming weeks, Venson Automotive Solutions is reminding new EV owners that some popular models are reported to reduce in battery range by as much as 52% at -5 degrees and urges them to plan ahead.
Alison Bell, Operations Director at Venson Automotive Solutions comments, “Although the weather forecast predicted severe weather conditions, many drivers were still caught out by the harsh driving conditions. And EV drivers face a different set of challenges to keep their vehicles road ready. In particular, the batteries that power EVs are very temperature sensitive, so bad weather can significantly reduce a car’s range and increase the length of time needed to recharge the battery. These are things owners must consider when preparing for a journey. Always aim to keep the vehicle’s battery between 20 percent and 80 percent charged and use the eco-mode whilst driving to reduce your rate of battery draining acceleration.”
There are other key measures that EV drivers can take to minimise battery drain when a big freeze sets in. This includes using the vehicle’s preheating function, also known as preconditioning, to heat the vehicle’s battery and cabin as required. Not only does this ensure the vehicle will be warm inside when the driver is ready to set-off, the program efficiently manages the heat once it hits a preferred temperature. This means only that only the necessary amount of energy is used to warm the car and regulates the temperature whilst on the road, again minimising battery drainage. Making sure the vehicle is plugged-in whilst preheating is vital though, so that the battery isn’t being drained by the process.
As with traditional fuel vehicles, tyre inflation is also important to a keep check on when EV winter driving. Due to the temperature dropping during winter, tyres will begin to contract as the air pressure falls, negatively impacting battery drain. Regularly inflating tyres will avoid this and help to maximise road grip at all times.
Alison Bell continues; “Whatever powertrain vehicle you are driving this winter, it is important to prepare your vehicle, so it functions efficiently in adverse driving conditions. Not only does it reduce wear and tear, but it also helps mitigate against the chances of having an accident due to driving a poorly maintained vehicle.”
Venson’s top tips to ensure electric vehicles run at their best this winter
- Use the vehicle’s precondition function. This allows the driver to heat or cool the battery and cabin as needed, allowing the stored energy in the battery to be used as its main purpose, to power the vehicle. By making sure the car is plugged in while preconditioning means you are not draining the battery.
- Be Battery Kind. Batteries like consistency, so, when possible, avoid running your battery super low. Aim to stay between 20 and 80 percent charged whenever you can to maximise battery efficiency and longevity.
- Regenerative Braking. When the battery is very cold using the regenerative braking system will be less effective. Therefore, turn it off when driving in icy and/or snowy conditions and rely on the vehicle’s friction brakes until the battery warms up.
- Use the Eco Mode. Eco Mode generally reduces the amount of power supplied to the drive motor and features, like the cabin heater. Used in the winter, it can reduce the power to the motor, so the car accelerates more slowly – not a bad thing as it reduces the possibility of wheel spin.
- Avoid freezing ‘fuel cap’. In extreme cold weather leave the vehicle plugged in overnight to avoid a frozen fuel cap should you need to charge the vehicle in the morning. Also be prepared, refer to the manufacturer’s guidance for how to release the fuel cap manually.
- Properly inflated tyres. As the temperature drops, tyre pressure falls and under-inflated tyres create more road friction, which impacts on the vehicle’s efficiency. Drivers need to check tyre pressure and general tyre health regularly as properly inflated and safe tyres are an easy way to help maximise winter range.