Electric cars and Canada's cold climate.

Electric cars during winter months

So you're probably wondering, how do electric cars perform in Canada's winter cold conditions? How will the range of my electric car be affected by cold chilling temperatures? Can electric cars can handle Canadian winters? Do auto manufacturers consider the fact that Canada is in the deep freeze anywhere from November to April each year?

And you're probably saying to yourself "Electric cars run on batteries, batteries do not like cold temperatures, how can I get same range out of my vehicle in winter as I would in summer days?" - well, truth is, you won't. Extra energy will be needed to warm your batteries and interior of your car during winter months, resulting in shorter range.

We're not even sure how manufacturers can state that during colder temperatures your car's performance "may" be affected - this statement should clearly be stated as "It's cold, your car's performance WILL be affected".

We have done research on this subject and here's what we found.

According to several official electric car owner's manuals, here's what you should know about your car's batteries during cold temperatures:


2016 Ford Focus Electric:



From "Information Displays"
Limited Performance Due to cold battery - Cold battery temperatures is affecting your vehicle performance.

From "Information Displays"
Outside Air Temperature Low Plug Vehicle in When not in use - The ambient temperature is cold. Plug in your vehicle to warm the high voltage battery for optimum performance.

From "Driving Hints"
The functional operation of some components and systems can be affected at temperatures below -13°F (-25°C).

From "Vehicle Care / Cooling System"
Protect against freezing temperatures.

From "Instrument Cluster / Limited Performance"
Amber: Indicates limited vehicle performance due to a cold or hot battery. A corresponding message displays. Red: Indicates severely limited vehicle performance due to a cold or hot battery.

From "Climate Control"
Hot and cold temperatures make your vehicle use more energy to achieve and maintain a comfortable interior temperature. Park the vehicle in the shade or in a parking structure when hot, and in a garage when cold.

The functional operation of some components and systems can be affected at temperatures below -13°F (-25°C).

2016 Nissan Leaf:


From "EV Overview"
To help prevent the Li-ion battery from freezing, do not leave the vehicle in an environment if temperatures may go below -1°F (-17°C) unless the vehicle is connected to a charger.

From "EV Overview"
Vehicle driving range is reduced if the Li-ion battery warmer operates (Li-ion battery temperature approximately -1°F (-17°C)or colder) while driving the vehicle. You may need to charge the Li-ion battery sooner than in warmer temperatures.

Using the climate control system to heat the cabin when outside temperature is below 32°F (0°C) uses more electricity and affects vehicle range more than when using the heater when the temperature is above 32°F (0°C).

Avoid storing a vehicle in temperatures below −13°F (−25°C) for more than 7 days.

From "Precautions on Charging"
When the ambient temperature is 32°F (0°C) or less, charging time may be longer than normal and the level to which the Li-ion battery can be charged may be less than at higher temperatures.

Possible Cause: The temperature of the Li-ion battery is too hot or cold to charge.
Possible Solution: If the gauge indicates the Lion battery is too hot (red zone) or too cold (blue zone),charging is not possible. Allow the Li-ion battery to cool or warm up before charging.

2016 Tesla Model S:



From "Launch Mode / Limitations"
Launch Mode is available only if the ambient temperature is 37° F (3° C) or warmer.

From "Limitations"
Many factors can impact the performance of Driver Assistance components, causing them to be unable to function as intended. These include (but are not limited to):
- Extremely hot or cold temperatures.

From "Battery Information"
For better long-term performance, avoid exposing Model S to ambient temperatures above 140° F (60° C) or below -22° F (-30° C) for more than 24 hours at a time.


Now, we could have gone on listing more of warnings and precautions from other manufacturers of electric vehicles as well, but this page would get really lengthy. We do not want to scare people off, but only inform.

Some users are even reporting good things about winter driving. On a cold morning you can hop in, and drive away, no fuss. And heat will kick in noticeably quicker too. Yes, your range will be affected. For example, if your range in warmer conditions is 150 km you can expect to get around 100 km during winter months. And some people are comfortable with those figures.

During cold winter months there are some precautions you must consider. Extra care of your electric car during winter months is required. If you plan on vacationing this winter and leaving your car sitting in the driveway for a week you probably would want to leave it plugged in.

Point is, electric cars are here. They're here to stay for good. Living in Canada, do not assume that you will be able to treat your electric vehicle same way you were treating your old fashioned gas guzzler.

Take care of your electric car during cold months and it will take care of you.


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Cdnauto.org / 2020
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