//// Tips for Driving Electric in Cold Weather
It’s winter in Kansas City — and while we haven’t seen the consistently frigid temperatures the Farmer’s Almanac predicted, when cold snaps come they’re no joke.
All cars become less fuel efficient in colder weather, whether they’re powered by gas or electricity, but drivers of electric vehicles with smaller ranges might need to pay closer attention.
First, let’s bust the myth that electric cars don’t work or handle well in cold weather. A well-maintained EV is appropriate for winter driving. One challenge that does come with colder temperatures, though, is maximizing range.
EVs are considerably more energy efficient than internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, converting up to 62% of electrical energy from the grid to power the car. The conversion rate for gas-powered vehicles is only from 17 to 21%, which means they generate a lot of waste heat. While waste heat is inherently wasteful, it does help warm the cabin of an ICE vehicle in cold weather. In an EV, the energy to heat the cabin comes from the same battery that powers the car, which can drain the battery faster.
Following a few basic tips can help EV drivers make the most of their battery throughout the winter.
- If possible, park your EV in a garage to raise the temperature of the battery and cabin.
- Preheat your car’s cabin when plugged into the grid, so it’s toasty before you even start your trip. Warming up the car in an enclosed space, such as a garage, is an EV-only perk. Doing the same with a gas-powered vehicle is dangerous!
- Use seat warmers instead of the cabin heater to maximize range.
- If possible, choose your car’s eco- or low-power mode when appropriate.
- Stay plugged in until you’re ready to head out, even when the battery is fully charged. EVs use some electricity to keep battery packs at ideal temperatures. Staying plugged in helps keep your battery warmer even after it’s recharged.
- As with any car, keep your tire pressure at the recommended psi.
- Drive with a moderate approach — ditch the lead foot and heavy braking. Let those regenerative brakes do most of the braking!
A little planning can go a long way in maximizing your range in colder temperatures.
//// Meet an EV Driver: Ryan Jones
For the past few years, Ryan Jones has been deeply immersed in the world of electric vehicles.
As a member of the KCP&L Clean Charge Network marketing team, he’s soaked up knowledge as he’s helped build the Clean Charge brand. He’d been mulling the idea of driving electric for years — and finally pulled the trigger on a pre-owned model at the end of 2016. Making the switch required a few changes in behavior.
“I was driving an old car that got 19 MPG on a good day and leaked oil on my driveway. I drove until the fuel light blinked then shelled out money at the nearest gas station,” he said. “Now I am more mindful and planned. I’ve developed new driving techniques as I’ve learned what regenerates the battery and what drains it. But I’m loving the torque and the lack of fumes bellowing out the back.”
Ryan relies on his EV as a full-time family car, taking him from daycare drop-offs to meetings to errands. He thinks many people would be surprised at how much space is available in a typical electric vehicle.
“The first thing I did when test-driving was try the car seat, stroller and groceries test. It passed with flying colors,” he said.
While he charges from home — and appreciates a heated steering wheel on cold mornings — he also regularly uses public charging stations for a top-off. “It’s fun to discover new businesses with charging stations,” he said. He’s also an adjunct professor at a local college, so he often gets a full charge at the college’s charging stations while teaching evening classes.
Driving electric has changed Ryan’s perspective.
“It’s been a freeing experience. Once you drive electric, all gas-powered cars suddenly look archaic. You’re no longer beholden to erratic gas prices,” he said. “The future holds boundless possibilities of feeding the electrical grid in sustainable ways, which is the key to energy independence.”
Interested in being profiled for our next issue? We’d love to hear from you.
//// Upcoming EVents and Activities
Nissan LEAF Group Buy Extended
The special group buy on a Nissan LEAF was such a smashing success, the offer has been extended! Now until March 31, get $10,000 off the sales price, plus up to $7,500 additional off in federal tax incentives. That translates into getting a brand-new LEAF for about 50 percent off!
We’re always out and about spreading the word about EVs. Mark your calendars for these upcoming EVents.
Kansas City Home Show: March 17-19 at Bartle Hall
Learn more about driving electric — and KCP&L’s energy-saving programs — at the annual Greater Kansas City Home Show.
Prairie Village Earth Day: April 15 at Shawnee Mission East High School
Electric vehicles will be a big focus at the show, with both the KCP&L Clean Charge Network and EV drivers coming out in full force.
KCP&L Clean Charge Network Happy Hour: Details coming soon
Stay tuned for an invitation to a Clean Charge Network members-only happy hour — and make sure the EV drivers you know are signed up for the Network so they can join in the fun.
We’re always looking for places to spread the word about EVs. Have a suggestion for where we might go next? Let us know.