Can Electric Vehicles Handle the Harsh Alberta Winter

Let’s just admit it. Even though we are Canadian, no one likes having to stand out in -40 Celsius weather just to fuel a car. Well, one of the best things about owning an Electric Vehicle is that you no longer have to stand outside in freezing temperatures to refuel. There is a wonderful alternative to freezing while pumping gas. Instead, just plug in your Electric Vehicle at home and charge it overnight while you sleep in a nice warm bed.

Battery Electric Vehicles do not use a gas engine to start, or any oil that may become too cold or thick to use in cold temperatures, making them an advantage over gas fuelled cars for the tough Alberta winters. Electric Vehicles heat up quickly by utilizing electric resistance heating instead of waste heat from a gasoline engine. This is more efficient and means your EV will start without a hitch in the Alberta cold.

Colds effect on Battery

Cold does affect the life of a battery but traditional gas-powered vehicles use more gas to heat up in the winter compared to in the summer, making them more costly to run during the winter months. Fortunately, EVs can easily manage the average Canadian’s daily commute distance of less than 60km without difficulty. Many Electric Vehicle drivers across the Prairies report positive first-hand experiences driving Electric Vehicles in cold weather.

To get a better understanding of how cold weather affects Electric Vehicles driving, Geotab created a Temperature Tool for EV Range, mapping out the impact temperature has on day-to-day Electric Vehicle range following an analysis of 4,200 connected electric cars and 5.2 million trips. Cold weather impacts on range are starting to become even less of an issue as new electric car models have increased battery capacity and can easily manage twice the daily mileage of older Electric Vehicles; meaning there will be little impact on most daily trip needs.

You can extend your Electric Vehicles battery life to achieve the maximum kilometers on a single charge. Remember to keep your Electric Vehicle stored in a garage, ideally a heated one. Keep plugged in when not in use. Also, you can limit the use of the heater while driving to conserve battery power and use the eco-mode feature to adjust performance parameters, which also preserves battery usage.

When it gets cold, engine oil becomes thicker and doesn’t flow around the engine as easily. It can become tough to pump oil and fluids through the engine block. This places stress on any battery. An Electric Vehicle is powered entirely by electricity, meaning it does not use gasoline.

Myths persist about Electric Vehicles and cold winters like in Alberta but Electric Vehicle batteries are unlike cell phone batteries, for instance, which would die if left out in the cold snow for 30 minutes. Electric Vehicles have an active thermal management system. Complex term but simple enough idea. The battery sits in a glycol bath (an organic compound in the alcohol family), and is connected to a heat pump. The heat pump circulates the glycol and keeps it warm using some of the batteries’ own energy in the process.

Another common myth is that it takes longer for Electric Vehicles to heat up in the winter. According to the Electric Vehicle Association of Alberta (EVAA), most Electric Vehicles use resistance heating, which generates heat almost instantly. Imagine heating your car up as you walk to it instead of waiting for heat to generate when the engine warms up. Instant heat means instant comfort in those cold Alberta winter months.