Are electric cars reliable in the winter?

AAA says not to believe the bad reputation that electric cars get when it comes to winter.


When looking to buy a car, many are choosing to go the environmental route and pick an electric vehicle. But how reliable are they when it starts to get cold? 

AAA says not to believe the bad reputation that electric cars get when it comes to winter. 

"The bad rap might come from the fact that range is decreased with an electric car as it gets colder," Robert Sinclair Jr., with AAA Northeast, says. "In fact, we did a test and found that at 20 degrees, the range of an electric vehicle might fall by 41 percent. But the Norway Automobile Association did a test and found that range fell by 20 percent."

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And while that may seem like a lot, Sinclair says to keep in mind that non-electric cars batteries are affected by the cold too.

"The cold affects the chemical reaction in the lithium-ion battery that powers an electric car, the same as it affects a lead-acid battery that starts the engine in a gasoline-powered car," Sinclair says. 

The cold weather slows down both batteries, but it leads to a decreased range in electric vehicles. 

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Even though the battery may be negatively affected during cold temperatures, the battery serves important for how electric vehicles handle snow.

"Generally, the batteries are under the floor, and they're big, and they're heavy. And when you've got a lot of weight in the vehicle down low like that, that lowers the center of gravity and helps to improve handling. And the extra weight also helps to improve traction," Sinclair says. "That extra weight improves the situation. And if you throw in a set of dedicated winter tires, which are designed and manufactured to be better handling in cold conditions, that will improve the situation."

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