Five things all electric car owners in Britain must know before winter comes

Winter is fast approaching and a cold snap is coming, bringing with it possible subzero temperatures and snow.

And with more and more motorists turning to electric cars there is some concern about how the climate-friendly vehicles will work in a deep British chill.

Lithium ions in the batteries slow down in colder weather and so aren’t as effective, limiting charge.

Expert Louis Rix, who works in motoring, has shared the best ways to maintain the batteries and other parts of EVs with the Daily Express.

Louis, co-founder and COO of CarFinance 247, says driving mindfully can help motorists conserve power and improve their electric cars’ range in cold weather.

“Travel at a steady speed and try to avoid sudden acceleration or braking. You can also save energy by turning off the radio and not using the heater,” Louis said.

“Storing your car in a garage or covered parking space overnight can help to keep the battery warm. Don’t have a garage? Keeping it under a cover can make a difference too.”

The expert also referred to using winter tyres, which can help drivers stay safe when the weather turns.

Louis continued: “The battery location can give electric cars a low centre of gravity, which improves traction in the snow, but they can also be heavier than petrol or diesel cars, making them harder to control in icy conditions.

“If you’re concerned about wet weather – electricity and water don’t mix, after all – then don’t be! EVs have precautions built in so splashes of water are unlikely to cause damage, but it’s still good practice to avoid driving through submerged roads.”

Louis pointed out a number of other tips, which will benefit electric car owners this winter.

They are as follows:

Preheat the car

Many electric vehicles come equipped with a preconditioning feature that you can use to warm up the car while it’s charging and before you get in.

If the car is still plugged in while you warm it up, then this won’t drain the battery. Some systems can even be operated remotely from inside your house.

Keep regenerative braking on

Regenerative braking is the system whereby the electric motor acts as its own generator whenever you slow down or brake.

The energy generated is then sent back to the battery as a top up. Keeping this function on in cold weather can help your battery last longer

Use eco-mode

Another helpful function that many EVs come with to help in cold weather is eco-mode.

This can preserve energy, reducing power consumption and boosting mileage by limiting the amount of energy supplied to the driving motor or cabin heaters.

Save more time to charge

While you can still charge your electric car in cold weather, you should expect it to take longer to charge overnight and to rapid charge.

Overnight charges can take two or three extra hours to complete when temperatures are low.

It’s worth bearing this in mind when travelling as charging points can also be affected and it’ll take longer to charge on the go.

Try to avoid letting your charge run down completely just in case.

Basic car maintenance
An electric car is just like petrol or diesel cars in many ways and much of the standard winter car maintenance advice still applies.

Make sure to keep your car clean, keep your anti-freeze topped up, and most importantly, keep the battery topped up too.

If it does snow or you have ice on your windscreen, dislodge and de-ice as usual.

Is it safe to charge an EV in rain or snow?
Yes, there’s no need to worry about charging your EV in bad weather.

Both electric cars and charging stations have been built to withstand rain and have protective layers and covering shields to prevent water from getting into the system and causing damage.