How Does Cold Weather Affect Electric Cars?

There are lots of myths when it comes to electric cars. Like myths saying electric cars are unsuitable for long journeys and there is nowhere to charge them. Another tale you might have heard about electric vehicles is that they stop working in cold weather. 

The thing about myths is that while they are incorrect, they are often based on an element of truth. So, if you are considering buying an electric car, the rumor mill surrounding their ability to operate in cold weather might be enough to make you wary.

Especially when you consider that temperatures in the USA drop as low as -30oF (-34oC) in some areas.

So what is the truth about electric cars and cold weather? Does cold weather affect electric cars? And if it does, what effects does the cold have on electric cars? We’ll answer all these questions in this guide, so keep reading. 

Does Cold Weather Affect Electric Cars?

Even though myths are usually incorrect, cold weather does actually affect the way that electric cars operate. Of course, this effect doesn’t go as far as preventing electric cars from working, but there are many different ways that cold weather impacts the operation of electric vehicles.

These effects are nowhere near as debilitating as myths suggest, but they definitely are noticeable. Especially when your electric car begins to experience multiple different cold weather-related issues at the same time. 

Cold weather’s most noticeable effect on electric cars is a reduced driving range. While all cars struggle with freezing temperatures, electric vehicles are more pronounced because of their electric batteries.

These electric batteries allow your car to travel for long distances, so when the cold weather affects the battery’s ability to operate, it also restricts the distance you can drive. 

The cold weather’s impact on your electric car does not stop at the driving range. Additionally, the cold weather can cause your car to struggle to warm up, which will drain the electric battery even further.

In cold weather, electric cars also become less efficient and generally struggle. Of course, all vehicles grapple with cold weather, but electric cars find it harder than most other internal combustion vehicles. 

How Does Cold Weather Affect Electric Cars?

We’ve mentioned some of the effects of cold weather on electric cars, but we haven’t really spoken about why cold weather causes these issues. We know that the battery is the root cause of the issue, but why does the cold weather impact the electric battery? Let’s take a look. 

The main reason why electric car batteries struggle in cold weather is because of the materials they are built with. Electric cars use lithium-ion batteries to power all the car’s internal electrical operations run off of these batteries.

Unfortunately, lithium-ion batteries do not operate well in cold temperatures simply because their chemical compounds do not agree with the cold.

So, your electric car may begin to experience issues linked to its electrical system in the cold because its batteries struggle with these temperatures. 

However, just because cold weather impacts the performance of your electric car, it is important to recognize that this impact is not debilitating. Cold weather will affect the efficiency of your car and force you to charge it more regularly.

But, your electric car will still work and get you from A to B. You will just need to charge it more regularly, especially if you plan on doing long-distance drives during the winter. 

Do Electric Cars Work in Extreme Cold?

We know that electric cars work in cold weather, but what about in extremely cold weather?

If the performance of an electric car is directly impacted by the conditions of where you are driving, you might expect this performance to worsen as you travel to colder and colder temperatures. So is this the case?

Generally speaking, yes. The performance of your car will become less and less efficient the colder the temperatures go. When you use an electric car in temperatures below -40oF (-40oC), the driving range of your electric car can drop significantly by up to 40%. This will only get worse as temperatures get colder. 

But this doesn’t mean that the myths are true. Although cold weather does affect the efficiency of cars, your car will never be in temperatures so significant that the driving range is eradicated.

Yes, electric cars will work in extremely cold temperatures. But, their driving range will deteriorate further as the lower temperatures drop, so remember to charge up regularly when making trips of any distance in extreme temperatures. And if you are driving in such frigid conditions keeping passengers warm is going to be essential.

Do Electric Cars Take Longer to Charge in Cold Weather?

The final effect of cold weather on electric cars is reduced recharge speed. Electric vehicles can only operate when their batteries have a charge, but it will take significantly longer for your car’s battery to charge in cold weather. 

In the summer, your car’s battery will naturally be warm because of the increased temperatures. The warmer temperatures are perfect for electric batteries, allowing them to charge much more rapidly than how they would in colder temperatures.

But, in colder temperatures, the battery will start out cold. This will mean that the battery has to warm up before it can actually start charging. 

All electric car batteries come with the ability to charge rapidly. This makes electric vehicles feasible because it would be impossible to drive a car that takes days to recharge.

In cold weather, electric batteries will still rapidly charge, but the speed will be noticeably slower because of the effect of the cold weather. 


In short, cold weather can affect electric cars in many different ways. Primarily, cold weather will impact the efficiency of an electric vehicle, causing them to have a reduced driving range, slower charging, and issues with heating up before driving.

But, despite this, electric cars still operate perfectly fine in cold weather. Of course, you will have to adjust the number of times you charge your vehicle to suit this change. If you live in an area of cold winters, then you’ll need to know how an EV handles snowy conditions.