EVs in winter: how cold is too cold for electric cars?

Written by: Simon Pavey, Last updated:13th January 2023

Electric car batteries in cold weather

Drivers of any type of vehicle know that the cold weather can have an adverse effect on vehicle health and driving conditions, and EVs are no exception. Relying entirely on the wellbeing of the battery functionality, electric cars are susceptible to cold weather complications. In this blog we’ll take a look at what issues the cold causes and how cold is too cold for electric cars.

Why does a regular car battery go flat in cold weather?

For traditional car batteries, the charge is held using a liquid electrolyte solution. When the temperature drops low, as it often does in winter nights, this liquid solution begins to freeze. It takes very low temperatures for it to fully freeze but the winter cold we commonly experience here in the UK is enough to significantly reduce the liquid electrolyte solutions ability to transfer power.

Most drivers have gone to turn their vehicle on after a cold night and found the car unable to start. This is most often because of the temperature of the fluid in the battery is too low and the battery fluid too viscous to effectively conduct electricity.

Are electric vehicles more reliable in cold weather?

Electric vehicles don’t suffer quite so heavily in the cold as combustion engine vehicles. This is because the conversion of electricity to motion is easier than converting chemical energy to mechanical as combustion engines must do.

You are far less likely to find your electric car not turning on after a particularly chilly night.

How does the cold affect electric car range?

Whilst you’ll find that EVs don’t suffer from entirely the same problems that combustion engine vehicles do in cold weather, they do suffer some setbacks, nonetheless. The cold winter weather can bring electric vehicle mileage down by as much as 20% compared to summer mileage.

This also has a knock-on effect on the speed at which you’ll be able to charge electric cars and other vehicles. If your fleet drivers are operating electric vehicles, it’s important that they are aware of these changes that occur in the colder months so that appropriate planning and accommodations can be made.

Tips for looking after an EV in cold weather

There are some extra maintenance measures that should be carried out to keep vehicles in good shape through the colder months of the year and often they are the same regardless of the type of vehicle you operate.


Whilst EVs mostly benefit from needing less fluids to operate effectively, one you can’t miss is coolant. Coolant will help to regulate the temperature of the battery pack and the electronics in your EV, helping to prevent the weather from causing any damage or long term issues.

Dislodge Ice and Snow

As you should with any vehicles, it’s important that when ice and snow cover your electric car you take care to effectively remove it. This is to help avoid corrosion to the metal of the vehicle and prevent scratches and damage that could exacerbate this.

Cover your EV

If possible, cover your electric vehicle when cold weather hits or keep it in a garage. This will help to prevent the need for thorough ice removal and can keep you EV free from winter-related damage and deterioration. It will also put an extra layer between your EV battery and the cold outside.

Preheat your car

As with combustion engine vehicles, take the time to heat a car gently before turning it on if it has been stationary for a while will help to keep the internal parts functioning well and avoid any unnecessary stress on the battery.

Can you charge an electric car in the rain?

Unless there is damage to your charging cable or sockets, then charging your EV should be no issue in rain, ice, or snow. Charging equipment is designed to withstand common harsher weather types, so if you are charging your EV in winter, you shouldn’t have any issues.

Ensure safe driving with fleet services from Fuel Card Services

Driving in cold weather can present some serious risks. On top of proper maintenance and upkeep of fleet vehicles, it’s important to check in on driver safety too. Tele-Gence is a telematics service designed to equip fleets and fleet managers with industry leading technology and keep operations safe and efficient.

Tele-Gence can help fleet managers to track driver whereabouts and habits, and with customisable software and add-on including dash cams it can prove invaluable if cold weather accidents do occur.

To help stay on top of vehicle checks as the cold weather rolls in, MyDriveSafe.Expert offers easy and efficient management of safety checks to help you and your drivers ensure that all fleet vehicles are ready to operate safely and effectively.

If you think you could benefit from the services provided at Fuel Card Services, then don’t hesitate to enquire. Our team are on hand to help you find the right services, fuel cards, and charge cards for your fleet’s needs.