Ice & Weather report

Arjeplog today

Temp 5.6 °C

Wind 6.1 m/s

Ice thickness 80 cm

Arvidsjaur today

Temp 5.8 °C

Wind 4.9 m/s

Ice thickness 85 cm

28 Jan 2022

Winter testing of electric vehicles - Can they survive the cold?

When the temperature drops, so does the performance and ability of many cars, trucks, and most other vehicles to operate safely and smoothly. This goes for both conventionally fuelled vehicles and EVs (electric vehicles). EVs, however, are often considered even more susceptible to low temperatures due to its battery, and often need to undergo rigorous vehicle winter testing to make sure it can perform in cold environments.

In the end, all vehicles' fuel economy suffers in cold weather. The question is, how does the EV’s energy consumption look as compared to a conventional car with an internal combustion engine during low temperatures?

How does cold weather affect fuel economy?

Cold weather affects vehicles in multiple ways, more than you probably think:

  • Engine and transmission friction increases during low temperatures due to cold engine oil and other drive-line fluids.
  • The cold increases the time it takes for the engine to reach its most fuel-efficient temperature. This is often an issue during shorter trips as the vehicle has less time to reach the ideal temperature.
  • Heated seats and steering wheels, window defrosters, and fans need to use additional power to counteract the low temperatures.
  • Cold air is denser, thus increasing the aerodynamic drag, especially at higher speeds.
  • The tire pressure decreases, increasing rolling resistance.
  • Battery performance decreases in cold weather, making it more difficult for the alternator to keep the battery charged. 
  • Cold weather affects the performance of regenerative braking systems on hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and EVs.
  • Icy or snow-covered roads decrease road grip, requiring more energy.

So, how do EVs actually perform in the winter?

As you can see, there’s a great many factors to consider, making it important to perform rigorous winter testing to guarantee the performance and ability of the car. This goes for both EVs and gasoline/diesel powered cars. However, there’s long been a stigma regarding the performance of EVs in the winter. But is it really as bad as what many say? 

Well, both yes and no. It’s important to note that EVs don’t lose range because of how the cold weather is affecting the batteries. It’s because of the added power demands that arise from driving the car in low temperatures. However, that is not to say that the physical batteries are not affected by cold temperatures at all.

We’d suggest you check out this video from NAF (The Norwegian Automobile Federation) to see how 20 different popular electric vehicles fared during winter testing at low temperatures at their winter proving grounds.

Winter testing in the north with Icemakers

Leading ice track makers in the world, we are the pioneering company of the Winter Test Region, providing vehicle winter testing facilities with a complete EV infrastructure to perform all types of winter testing. We operate as a full-service winter test supplier to our clients to allow them to rigorously test their EVs to assure the performance, reliability, and safety during cold temperatures.

Read more about our vehicle winter testing facilities.

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