Winter cold makes electric and ICE cars consume more
It’s almost the shortest day of the year. What does winter mean for the energy consumption of our car? Cars running on gasoline and diesel consume more when it gets cold, but with an electric vehicle, the difference is up to a quarter.
Resistance rises when cold
The amount of energy your car consumes depends mainly on the rolling resistance of the tires and the air resistance. Also, the efficiency of the drive system is essential. The rolling resistance of a car is better with a good and especially not too low tire pressure. The use of winter tires also increases rolling resistance.
The air resistance force is linearly dependent on the airtightness and quadratic on the speed. The airtightness is higher at lower temperatures, the difference between -10 and +30 degrees is even 15%.
Higher fuel consumption
Internal combustion engines (ICE) are less efficient in winter because the internal friction increases and the warm-up phase (with a richer mixture) lasts longer. Together with the higher airtightness, this results in an average of 10 to 15% higher gasoline or diesel consumption.
In addition, more electrical consumers, such as heated windows, high beam lights, and heated seats are switched on more often in the winter.
More sensitive to the cold
Temperature is also a crucial factor for electric cars because the battery works better at 20 degrees than at 0 degrees. When the temperature drops below 0°C, the battery will also absorb energy more slowly.
That’s why the car recuperates fewer kilometers while slowing down or braking. Many modern electric cars have a battery management system, including active temperature control, but, of course, this also demands power.
Cabin-heating devours energy
Heating the interior of a gasoline car is a by-product of the combustion process, whereas in an electric car this requires extra energy. That’s why most electric cars also have seat heating, so the interior temperature can be lowered.
This problem has already been improved by replacing the traditional heat resistance element (which was used in the first generation of EVs) with a more efficient heat pump.
It also helps a lot if you can preheat the battery and the cabin while the car is still at the charging station. This way, the heating does not affect the driving range as much, but the energy consumption (measured at the charging station) does increase considerably.
25% less range
“I drive an average of 17 kWh/km in the summer, so about 6 km per kWh. That is 21 kWh/km in the winter or 4,5 km per kWh. So, I have about 25% less range during the winter period,” concludes Maarten Steinbuch, professor at the TU Eindhoven and co-CEO of Eindhoven Medical Robotics. Good to know when you are about to buy your first electric car.