Is Driving electric car in snow Any Good? – An In-depth Analysis

EVs are becoming popular, and soon, owning one will be a thing to brag about. And that’s because one will need to pay handsomely to have one. Every part is quite expensive down to its tires. But that does not outset the usual gasoline vehicles, as there are many out there doing well.

Winter driving is usually different for gasoline cars as much traction is needed.  Infact, owners of gasoline cars often asked if they could drive in the snow for safety reasons. But have you ever wondered how driving electric car in snow maybe? Well, let’s find out.

new test reveals electric cars are practically unusable in winter

Pros of driving electric car in snow

If you’ve never driven an EV, you may be asking, how are electric cars in the snow? Are electric cars any way good in snow? Well, driving electric cars in snow comes with its positives, amongst which are:

Short heating period

Have you ever had to spend more than 15 minutes for your gasoline car to warm so the hot air can defrost your vehicle and warm your freezing hands? Usually, cars get frosty during the winter months. And one would wait for the engine to warm up and produce heat to defrost the windows for visibility and warm up the cabin.

But unlike gasoline cars, electric vehicles don’t take long for the battery to heat up to defrost the windows and keep the cabin warm. It can literally warm up your car in seconds. And could do this with the car locked the whole time, which adds to its fast warming. Therefore you won’t have to wait long before driving your car.

Can be preheated

Electric vehicles allow you to preheat your car. These vehicles come with an app installed on your smartphone that allows you to turn on the heater aforetime from the comfort of wherever you are. So you don’t have to wait until you want to drive the car before heating it. With a click from your phone, you can heat it and keep it ready. So the minute you get there, you enter and start your movement. This saves more wait time.

Saves power

You would usually burn gas when heating a gasoline-driven car, yes? However, for electric vehicles, you may not need to touch their battery. With the vehicle still plugged into its power source, you could heat it to save energy. This is why charging electric cars in cold weather is different.

For summer, you could charge your vehicle and heat it after unplugging whenever you like and still get good range. But in cold weather, because the car uses more power, it will be good to do certain activities while still charging. So all the power you use here wouldn’t come from the battery but the power source, which is a great way of conserving the battery.

Improved traction

Certain things come into play to provide good traction in the cold months.

First, electric vehicles don’t require using multiple gears, and with its ultra-smooth motor, it reduces the possibility of slippage. Hence, very easy to pull through in snow or ice, though it requires you to do it slowly.

Secondly, electric vehicles are usually heavy due to their large batteries, making them good for winter traction. Furthermore, the heavy battery is positioned under the car, putting more weight close to the ground. This gives electric vehicles even better traction.

Decreased theft

While EVs can be preconditioned, it allows you to do this with the car locked. While locking it makes it heats up faster, it’s also a safety precaution. For gasoline cars, one literally has to leave the car open when warming the engine. And there have been cases of car theft when left unlocked. It’s worth noting that most insurance does not cover vehicles stolen when left running unlocked.

Cons of driving an electric car in the snow

While driving an electric car in snow comes with benefits, it also has its drawbacks. No wonder people often ask, are electric cars bad in snow?

Tires might be an issue

Evs utilize tires with large diameters. These big tires have low rolling resistance and relatively high pressure, which consumes small energy. This invariably causes inadequate traction than the softer ones, which is horrible to use in severe winter.

Reduced EV ranges

EVs are powered by batteries, meaning everything in the car gets its power from the battery. Generally, each charge has a certain distance they can cover before running out of power. However, cold winter climates may reduce the battery range by about 20-40%. Here is why?

Power is shared among not just the heating system but with other smaller systems.

Features like the steering wheels, heated seat, and cabin all use energy from the battery during the cold months. Hence, amounting to a reduction in ev range in cold weather.

This is especially true for older EVs with smaller batteries and standard AC systems. The invention of new EVs with heat pumps and larger batteries has made driving in winter much more comfortable. So one does not have to sacrifice comfort for EV range.

Important tips to driving electric car in snow

When it’s wintertime, you may likely hear people asking questions like, can I drive my car in the snow? This question often pops up because many experts have always advised people to stay home during the cold months for safety reasons.

But of course, that will not be possible when there are bills to sort. However, some believe that driving an EV would do justice in snow. But it will shock you that even EVs are not totally free. So here are helpful tips to stay safe using EVs in snow.

Keep your battery warm but save power

Putting on your car after a cold night will require using power to warm it up. This helps defrost the windows for visibility and keep you warm in your cabin.

To, however, avoid losing power, ensure you warm your car when still plugged in. Alternatively, you could clean off the ice on windshields and windows with a rag instead of using battery power, especially when the car is not charging.

Preheat your car

While heating your car when connected to a power source saves EV range, preheating can save you time. Long before you set out, you can start warming up the battery, the interior or defrost the windows. This allows you to start driving immediately after you step out since the car is already warm before touching.

But the beauty of this is one can preheat the car remotely using a key fob or an app installed on your smartphone. The app also allows users to set their departure times, so the car automatically heats up itself.

Gear up

By wearing warmer clothing or bringing hot coffee when driving, you may have to rely less on putting the heater to the highest. Because you’ve geared up, putting it on low will not affect you and will also save you power. Usually, the lower the heater level, the better you conserve energy.

Drive carefully

Firstly, vehicles are known to slide in wintery conditions, and EVs are no exception. Your vision could also be blocked by snow, rain, or frost, which may increase your chances of losing control and getting into a crash.

For these two reasons, you may want to avoid speedy driving in winter. Try not to go beyond 65 miles per hour. Moreover, higher speeds cause your vehicle to work more than usual, affecting your driving range.

Consider winter tires

Using seasonal tires has always provided better traction than using a versatile tire, that is, summer tires for summer and winter tires for winter. While an all-season tire will do well in winter, it cannot match the capability of a true winter tire.

So if you have considered driving in the cold months, getting a winter tire will be safer and more efficient. As these tires are known to provide better grip and traction on snowy roads

Get an EV with a heat pump

If you already own an EV, you probably may have one with or without a heat pump. But if you’re only leasing now, try getting an EV with a heat pump. This way, you only have to heat your car with the heat pump, which consumes less energy than the standard AC system.

Heat pumps help warm your cabin by absorbing atmospheric heat and compressing it via a refrigerant tube. This invariably helps save battery life since it doesn’t rely completely on electricity.

best electric car for snow

Best electric cars for snow

Driving in snow can be a thorn in the flesh. There are cases of vehicles sliding backward on hilly roads or owners abandoning their cars along the road due to gasoline exhaustion. Experts may even advise you not to drive during the winter, but that’s not possible when responsibilities are staring at you.

To therefore commute on snow, one may need a machine with the capability to thrive, with EVs coming to play. But you will agree that electric vehicles are produced by different car manufacturers, with each having its uniqueness. Therefore, they won’t perform in the same way.  So if you’re considering using an EV in the snow, here are the best electric cars in the snow 2022 that can do justice.

Porsche Taycan

The Porsche Taycan is an elegant car with so much practicality. In addition to its practicality, it is also a good rider in snowy conditions. The turbo trim features a dual motor combined with an all-wheel drive outputting  670hp. Hence, producing an electrifying snowy ride.

Thankfully, its EV range is quite impressive, even in winter. EPA notes that, the Porsche Taycan beats its estimated range in wintry conditions. Thinking of which electric cars in Minnesota winter to use? Consider the Porsche Taycan.

Ford Mustang Mach-E

Modern Mustang, despite their technological improvement, has been doubted to perform well in snow. Yes, many might not expect too much from this car much in winter since it’s a large car.  However, being a crossover didn’t lessen its performance in snowy conditions, especially with its electric version.

The Mach E is the first EV from Mustang and is a performer in winter even while fitted with an all-season tire. Its grip is pretty decent, with no wheel spin when in the standard engage mode. However, the car can really act weird when switched to the most sporty mode.

Accelerate harshly through bends; the rear wheel might start spinning though controllable. Furthermore, it also has an amazing range, like the Porsche Taycan. It practically maintains its estimated range during winter, though InsideEVs notes that the car may deliver much more than its estimated range.

Jaguar I-pace

The I-pace is Jaguar’s first-ever EV built. It outputs a whooping 394 horsepower via its dual motor system and is matched with an all-wheel drive system making it handle wet roads excellently. It comes with a decent range, with its 90kWh battery pack estimated to last 230 miles. Fortunately, it outshines most EVs thanks to its adjustable suspension system.

With this feature, this Jag can be bumped to a ground clearance of 7.8 inches. The combination of this feature and its excellent power and handling has made the I-pace one of the best electric car for driving in snow. In fact, in 2020, it was voted by The New England Motor Press Association as the best battery EV for winter.

Audi e-Tron Quattro

The Quattro system has been used in their Audi Quattro with 4WD since 1980. And now extends to their EV. The e-Tron, combined with the Quattro system, now acts as a force producing power and efficiency, one being that it excels in snowy conditions.

The Audi e-Tron Quattro, due to its weight and AWD system, houses great snow handling and traction and will keep you under control. This EV comes with diverse drive modes, making it more adventurous. Put it on sport mode, and you will get the greatest ride of your life with absolute control.

BMW iX

The BMW iX is a mid-size crossover and, therefore, bigger than some EVs. It utilizes an AWD system and, when outfitted with proper winter tires, wields traction to face the harshest winter.

This EV car, according to hotcars, will excel in harsh winter weather, even in the mountains. Many drivers won’t be driving electric cars in mountains anyways. But in winter conditions, this car is a great performer and a strong contender to other EVs in the market.

Tesla Model 3

The Tesla Model 3 has been rated the best Tesla EV by experts. It comes with a standard AWD system which makes traction superb on watery terrains. It utilizes a traction control together with its battery lowering gravity for improved stability.

You will be amazed how the Tesla performs when outfitted with a pair of winter tires, even with its 2-wheel drive system. Meaning a rear-wheel drive electric car in snow can excel as much as the AWD system with the right set of tires.

However, its AWD system excels exceptionally in snow, even when it’s 6-12 inches deep.

Frequently asked questions(FAQs)

Q: How cold is too cold for electric cars?

Most EVs batteries are estimated to operate between 20-40 degrees. Anything below this will cause a decrease in battery life. Generally, batteries have an ideal operating temperature both in summer and winter; if used accordingly, you will get a good range.

However, when pushed further, it causes the battery to work harder than required, reducing its range. Reports note that EVs range in snow decreases by 20-40%, and this is assuming that you’re driving in the optimal range. Imagine what happens when you drive in a much lower temperature.

Q: What happens to electric cars in a snowstorm?

Electric cars will still function in a snowstorm. However, the rate at which battery is used is intensified, drastically reducing the EV range. Generally, the colder the climate, the faster these lithium batteries lose power. This is because EVs heating systems rely on heater resistance which uses a great amount of energy, especially EVs with the conventional AC system.

If, however, your car is equipped with a heat pump like Kias and Hyundai, you might just be saving enough power to sail through the storm. These heated pumps help keep your cabin warm by using only about 50% of your electricity. If you are found in a snowstorm, it will be better if you’re driving a heat pump EV. As it will keep you warmer for long without using too much electricity.

Q: Do Teslas drive well in snow?

Teslas drive well in snow thanks to their advanced traction control system. This feature ensures you get through the snow safely with excellent traction. The dual wheel controlling the torque digitally also contributes to its increased traction. You should see how amazing it performs on snow when outfitted with a proper winter in their AWD system.

Proper weight distribution has also helped Teslas, like other EVs. And all these features working together makes Tesla an excellent performer in snow. But you may want to check out the Tesla Model 3, which, according to experts, is the best Tesla EV. It can notably pull through 6-12 inches of snow when outfitted with winter tires.

Q: Do electric cars work in extreme cold?

Electric cars would work in extreme cold. However, their battery range will decrease drastically. Generally, unplugged EVs lose battery range by 12-20% in cold temperatures.  But when faced with an extremely cold climate, it may lose up to 40% of its range and even more. This is true because, at a colder temperatures, drivers tend to set the heater on full blast to keep them warm.

Literally, the higher the heater range, the higher energy consumed. How much range you lose with the heater in full depends on what powers the heater. Cars with heat pumps use less electricity than cars fitted with conventional AC units. So if you have a heat pump, your EV range in cold weather may be extended.

Q: How is an electric car heated in the winter?

Electric cars are heated via a heat pump or conventional AC unit. The heat pump uses thermal energy from the outside air, compresses it, and sends the heat to your cabin. Conventional heaters, on the other hand, convert electricity to thermal energy and send it to the cabin for warming. Generally, cars with conventional heaters will likely have a decreased range since they rely on electricity supplied by the battery.

However, a good way to minimize the power used in heating is to utilize EVs features.  Modern EVs are equipped with heater seats and steering wheels. So instead of heating the entire cabin, you could utilize the heater seats by only warming up the seats with passengers. For example, if there is only a driver, you could heat only the driver’s seat.

Q: Are electric cars safe in snow?

Yes, electric cars or Electric trucks are safe in the snow. However, you must apply caution when driving it. While traction is superb, ensure you don’t go too speedy. Roads in winter are slippery, and you would easily lose control if you’re speeding and slide. Secondly, snow, ice, or rain could cover your windows while driving; you don’t want to be on speed when this occurs.

Thirdly, the faster you go, the more power is consumed, invariably decreasing your EV range. Just ensure you don’t run out of battery on a lonely snow-covered road far from town. You may freeze to death if help doesn’t come on time. Preferably, don’t exceed 65 miles per hour when driving EVs in snow.

Q: How long will the heater run in an electric car?

How long a heater will run in an EV depends on the battery’s capacity, its remaining charge, how cold the weather is, and other things the battery is powering.  But usually around 30-50 hours or more. The bigger the battery, the longer the heater runs.

Many EVs come with a battery capacity of 50-80 Kilowatt hours. If a fully charged 50kwh battery runs the heater at 1kw and is still powering other smaller electronics, the battery can last for up to 50 hours.  But if that same 50kwh battery is left with about 20% charge, it may last for just ten hours or less.

A 65kwh battery could also run the heater at 1kwh for 65 hours when fully charged. However, this is assuming you’re constantly using the heater, which is not always the case. So technically, how long a heater will run in an EV depends on several factors. This includes battery size, remaining charge, how cold the climate is, set heater level, and other things you’re powering while the heater is on.

Q: How do Tesla handle in the snow?

Teslas handle well in snow, even on standard tires, as it has many settings that help in inclement weather. You can choose the limit initial power to help with traction. Other times, could be set the chill mode, adjust regen and even slip mode, depending on the conditions.  Even on their rear-wheel drive, you can still be in control, making a rear-wheel drive electric car in snow useful too.

However, better traction can be achieved on an AWD system. Furthermore, using proper snow tires and snow chain is another way of increasing traction. This added traction gives you better control and keeps you safe. That said, your driving style also plays a huge role in how well your Tesla handles snow.

Q: Do Tesla need winter tires?

Generally, all Teslas, even with rear-wheel drive, will do very well in snow with regular tires. However, if you want improved traction, you may need winter tires. So it typically depends on an individual’s choice, but a Tesla can run without snow tires.

Final Words

Generally, driving in winter could be somewhat challenging for gasoline cars. However, with the advent of EVs and how spectacular they perform, many have wished to know if driving electric car in the snow could be any better. Thus, people ask, are electric cars ok in the snow? Driving Evs in the snow comes with an enormous advantage which includes quicker heat times, better traction, preconditioning, etc.

However, people also understand that almost nothing is free from flaws, hence the question: are electric cars bad in snow? They are not bad, but they come with their pitfalls, with some being the roll profile tires EVs use and how cold could affect EV range. But if you’re asking, can you drive an electric car in the snow? Yes, you can; it just has its pros and cons.

Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a seasoned automotive technician for the past 9 years, and a technical writer. He loves writing about auto professional repair guides, DIY repair guides, and buyer’s guide. After spending six years in the automotive workshop, he decided to impact his knowledge to people aside his domain, and he has achieved this by centering his Automotive writing skills on REPAIRS.

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