With all the severe weather – from the storm that stopped traffic on I-95 for 24 hours to the 24 inches of snow dumped on New England – there’s been a lot of speculation about how EVs would fare if stuck in a snowy traffic jam. The truth is … you’ll be just fine!
Whether you charge at home or at work, with a fast charger or Level 2 charger, most drivers have enough charge to survive being stranded – while running heat – for multiple hours. In fact, when you do the math, EVs fare just as well as ICE vehicles. Depending on the car, in a gas vehicle you may be able to keep your fingers and toes warm for up to 30 hours before your tank is dry. But gas cars heat their cabins with waste heat generated from the engine’s moving parts, which means you’ll need to idle the engine to stay warm. In contrast, EV batteries don’t need to run the engine if you are sitting stranded, just the heat, so the car battery only has to use less than a couple of kilowatt-hours (kWh) of battery power each hour to keep you toasty.
Want more? An idling experiment in Northern California-based team on a Tesla Model 3 showed that blasting the heat (“hi” mode; car temp above 85 degrees) uses only 6% battery capacity in an hour. Another man slept in his Tesla in below freezing temps to check it out, and over seven and half hours used 10.2 kWh of the total battery. Another test conducted by a Tesla owner in Michigan shows 2.4% battery use per hour to maintain an internal temp of 70 degrees in 20-degree weather. It’s not just true of Teslas: the Chevy Bolt, with 60-66 kWh of battery capacity, uses 2-5 kW per hour with the heat on.
Now, how would EV chargers fare in a snowstorm? Perhaps not so great with those wired chargers, but snowplows have met their match with wireless charging. Wireless charging pads built into the surface of a parking lot, driveway, or curbside can charge through snow and ice.