Electric range varies with the seasons and it is essential to take this into account when choosing a vehicle. The range indicated for each model is in fact an annual average: in spring, summer and fall, a car will often yield a higher mileage, while in winter it will be lower.
The variation of electric range comes mainly from the fact that the batteries are affected by the temperature. Lithium batteries operate at their full potential at temperatures between 15 and 35 degrees Celsius.
The operating range of lithium batteries can go from -20 to 60 degrees, but below zero we are already starting to see a slowdown in their ability to provide their energy. Starting around -12 degrees, most vehicles will activate the battery heater to maintain acceptable performance.
NOTE: The heater consumes power, but this is usually offset by the gain in efficiency.
The colder air, more dense, also offers greater resistance and thus increases energy consumption. In addition, the road traction is slightly worse and the mechanical resistance is higher.
These same effects also apply to the gasoline car, but you don't notice it. Gas mileage can easily increase by 20% in winter, but all you notice is you refuel more often.
For electric vehicles, heating the passenger compartment in winter and air conditioning in summer have some impact on range since the energy necessary is drawn from the traction battery. But contrary to popular belief, this is not the main factor that decreases the range. In most standard electric vehicles, half the battery can easily heat or cool the passenger compartment for up to 15 hours!
Since a model’s announced range is an annual average that varies with seasons, when estimating your daily trips, include a safety margin of about 40% for winter conditions. So consider that, in the worst winter conditions, an electric vehicle with an average range of 400 kilometers could be limited to 240 km of range.
Such extremes will be rare, but they could happen. It is better to plan it so as not to be caught unaware!
To choose the right vehicle for you, we recommend that you consider the longest route that you travel REGULARLY. Consider the distance between two “destination” recharges (the place where you can recharge your vehicle day or night).
Some examples :
It is up to you, of course, to decide what you consider to be “regular” travel. Many EV drivers find it acceptable to use the public charging network a few times a month during the harsh winter days... to save thousands of dollars with a smaller battery electric car!
Especially since the rapid recharging on the road will give you nearly 50 km in 15 minutes! Remember that you might only use it in the worst winter conditions.