The Fall 2022 issue of Health & Happiness UP Magazine included my article “Order Your Electric Car NOW” covering the basics of electric vehicles (EVs) after my 6,000 miles of experience, but didn’t answer questions many Yoopers have about winter driving. Now, after 16,000 electric miles, including winter miles and new tax credits, I have answers.
A critical detail is that 80% of EVs are charged while you sleep, at home, overnight, from an ordinary 240-volt clothes dryer-type circuit in a garage or outside fixture. Having a home or apartment/condo complex charger (30% tax credit to install) is a big winter advantage. A plugged-in EV is ready every morning to remote start, warm up, and drive all winter long. With home charging, you spend less time charging than you formerly spent pumping gas! Just plug in at night, unplug in the morning, and go.
Unlike many gas or diesel cars, EVs will start even in the coldest weather and are still very powerful. In all EVs, as the temperature drops, battery chemistry slows somewhat, but the power remains. Many EVs can be started remotely and are toasty-warm whenever you get in. Batteries heat the car interior. EVs with heat pumps warm the interior and passengers efficiently, faster than gas cars.
EV winter capabilities vary by model.
Some are absolutely ready for U.P. winters; others have some limits. Below freezing, the EPA range per charge in miles is reduced by about 25%. A daily 250-mile EPA summer charge range is reduced to 180 winter miles. Very few people regularly drive 180 miles per day so that’s rarely a problem. When road-tripping more than 180 miles from home, recharge at a fast-charger. Go to PlugShare.com to find medium and fast chargers on your route. Many EVs know where the chargers are and will route right to them.
Some people are tempted to think they need 400 – 600 miles of range and massive power. That’s usually a mistake unless you tow heavy loads long distances. If most of your driving is less than 180 miles per day, excessive range beyond 300 miles just means you paid extra for excess battery capacity which rarely gets used, which adds excessive battery weight, which drags down the EV truck’s already lower efficiency (MPGe – miles per gallon equivalent), which means you’ll spend much more time charging more energy into the truck than charging a speedy 250-300 EPA mile passenger EV on the same trip.
EV batteries on long winter road trips fast-charge fastest when warm. Cars best suited to long winter road tripping have a feature called “preconditioning” that automatically heats the battery to an ideal temperature as you drive to a fast charger. EVs without preconditioning usually charge much slower in the cold. Slow charging at home is essentially unaffected.
Most EVs are all-wheel drive. Snow and slush eat energy. Snow tires eat some energy too, but AWD EVs often handle winter road conditions better than gas cars. EVs are among the highest safety-rated vehicles on the road.
EV car shopping is fun.
For town/commuter EVs, add a 240-volt charger in your garage, then get almost any EV. For winter road tripping, consider sleek, beautiful, and sexy EVs with an EPA summer range over 250 miles, all-wheel drive, preconditioning, a CCS or Tesla charger connector, and a max charge rate over 150 kW. Tax credits are available for almost everybody—$7,500 for qualifying EVs, 30% credits for installing chargers. Go to shorturl.at/floWZ
Buying another gas car? You’ll be locked into gasoline for five more years. Yuck! Order or lease your electric car NOW!
Steve Waller’s family lives in a wind- and solar-powered home. He has been involved with conservation and energy issues since the 1970s and frequently teaches about energy. Steve can be reached at Steve@UPWallers.net.
Excerpted from the Spring 2023 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2023, Empowering Lightworks, LLC. All rights reserved.