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Used Electric Vehicles in Cold Weather Conditions

With Canada's harsh withers, many consumers are understandingly afraid to make the jump to an electric car. And this also makes choosing a used EV even tricker. The high-voltage battery it carries may already have lost a significant amount of its original capacity.

So let's take the time to answer some questions and concerns about electric used vehicles and the cold.

How Much Range Do I Need?

When the temperature drops considerably, the battery life takes a hit. A model like the Nissan LEAF, for example, will lose about 25% of its range at -15 degrees and about 45% at -25 degrees.

The general rule is to plan for twice your daily travel needs. For example, if you drive an average of 80 kilometres per day, a safe bet would be to have 160 kilometres of total range before you leave.

Photo: Caleb Gingras

Should Leave it Plugged in all the time?

Like a regular car with a block heater, an electric car plugged in during cold weather (below -20 degrees) is better off when you start it in the morning. In fact, it will start better than a gasoline car. In addition, plugging your car in can also allow you to preheat the interior before driving. In some cases, you can even set a timer for the heating.

Photo: Caleb Gingras

What to do with fast charging stations?

If you plan to use a fast-charging station in cold weather, it is best to charge at your destination after a long trip, since the battery will have had time to warm up. Otherwise, if you wait until the car and battery are cold, it will take longer to recharge. Worse, you could start the day with a greatly reduced range!

Remember: the vehicle's charging system manages the recharge. If the battery is not warmed up and you use a fast-charging station, the system will ask the station to limit its speed and not the other way around.

Photo: Caleb Gingras

Are there any other precautions to take?

To avoid damage to the charging station's nozzle or the car's charging cradle, make sure there is no snow or ice accumulation. Never forcefully remove the charging gun: the locking mechanism may be more difficult to disengage in cold weather. Make sure the vehicle doors are also unlocked and press the button on the nozzle.

Sources: CAA-Quebec, Le Circuit électrique

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