Driving home for Christmas can be very challenging. The weather can be bad, the roads hazardous, and there are often plenty of traffic jams, diversions, and queues. It’s common for this important journey to take longer than usual, even if it’s a trip you’ve made countless times and you are comfortable on the roads. If you, like many others, have made the switch to an electric vehicle this year, and this will be your first big winter drive in an EV, you might have a few extra things to consider. Here are some tips to help you to drive home for Christmas in an EV.
How Does Winter Weather Affect an EV?
Very cold weather affects all vehicles. You might have to switch to winter tyres, it can take longer for your car to get going in the morning, and you might have things like condensation and icy windows to deal with. Winter weather can also mean that you have to moderate your driving style, braking earlier, leaving yourself more time to corner and generally being a little more careful.
But when you drive an electric car, there’s something else that you need to think about. Very cold weather can affect battery performance and charge times. You might find that your battery doesn’t last quite as long or doesn’t charge as quickly when it’s cold. How the performance is affected will depend on the battery range in the first place, the age of your vehicle, and the specific car that you are driving.
Choose the Right Car
If you have concerns about your car’s ability to make the trip, you are ready for an upgrade, or you are still trying to choose the right electric vehicle for you and your family, choosing the right car is one of the most important things that you can do to stay safe on your drive home. Take a look at the safety ratings on LV Electrix to help you decide, also looking for things like battery range, spaciousness, comfort, and any other priorities that you might have when it comes to extra features and add-ons.
Give Yourself Extra Time
However you are getting home for the holidays, it’s important that you give yourself more time than you usually would, just in case there’s bad weather, or traffic along the way. This is even more important if you are travelling at peak times, or on busier days.
If possible, avoid rush hour traffic and weekends, and take quieter routes. But still, add some extra time for your journey so that you don’t have to rush or get stressed out if it takes longer than expected.
Be Prepared for Reduced Range
It’s common for battery range to be impacted by cold weather, and the colder it is, the bigger the impact could be. When you plan your route, make sure there are charging stops closer together than you’d usually need.
Take the time to plan exactly where you are going to stop along the way, researching what facilities are available before you leave.
Be Kind to Your Battery
One of the best ways to make sure your battery lasts for as long as possible, both on this trip and in the future, is to take care of it. If the weather is very poor for optimum battery performance, try to keep it between 20% and 80%, and avoid running it very low before you stop to charge. Keep this in mind when planning your route and add more stops if necessary.
Be Prepared for Longer Stops
Remember, cold weather can increase charging times. If you manage to keep your battery above 20%, you should minimise any extra time, but you should still be prepared for stops, especially if you need a longer charge on a very long trip, to be extended. Make sure there are facilities at stopping places, and that you pack headphones, a book, and some money so that you’ve got something to do while you wait.
Check the Route Beforehand
You might think that you’ve got your route planned perfectly, you know which way you are going and where you are stopping to charge. You might even have a few emergency stops planned, just in case. But things on the roads can change, especially when they are busy, and the weather is poor.
Make sure you double-check your route just before you leave home to make sure all of the roads and services stations are open, and pack a map, just in case.
Get Used to Winter Driving
Perhaps the best way to figure out how your car drives in bad weather, as well as how the cold will affect its battery range and charge times, is to drive in it. Go for a few drives in the weeks leading up to the holidays to test performance, so that you know what to expect and then adjust your plans accordingly. This will also help you to feel more confident and comfortable on the roads.
Make the Most of the Precondition Function
Precondition mode is a feature that many EVs have. It allows them to warm both the cabin and the battery, using electricity provided by the power grid, instead of your car battery. This helps you to preserve range, and have a warmer, more comfortable journey.
Use Eco Mode
Eco mode limits the power of your vehicle. This increases range, but it also reduces your driving speeds, which can be a fantastic way to stay safe on winter drives.
Consider Winter Tyres
Winter tyres are much safer in bad weather. Whether it’s wet and slippery, icy, snowy, or just cold and windy, winter tyres offer better grip, and can be much safer, and it won’t hurt to drive on them if the weather is mild, so it’s an excellent precaution to take.
No matter what tyres you are using, take the time to check the pressure and pump them up if you need to. This will improve grip, but it will also mean that you are able to drive more efficiently, making it easier on your car and saving battery power.
Pack an Emergency Bag
Whenever you drive in wintertime, it’s a good idea to have an emergency bag in the car. Pack things like waterproofs, wellies, blankets, a torch, food and drinks, a power bar for your phone, a map, and basic tools.
Check the Weather and Time Your Trip Well
Check the weather in the days before your trip, and if you have any flexibility, adjust your start times so that you are driving in the mildest conditions possible. But, be prepared for lots of other people doing the same thing. The roads might be busy, but milder weather is always the safer option.
Consider an Overnight Stop
If you have a very long trip, an overnight stop can be an ideal choice. It gives you chance to rest and ensures you don’t have to drive tired, but it also gives you time to fully charge your battery, instead of trying to do the whole journey on shorter charges.
Try not to let your drive home stress you out. As soon as you leave work for the last time, you are on your Christmas holiday. Play some of your favourite Christmas tunes, try to relax, and enjoy the drive as much as possible. Just remember to stay safe and to take your time.