Electric car and e-bike batteries drain faster in the cold

Electric car and e-bike batteries drain faster in the cold
Credit: Håkan Dahlström/Flickr

Cold weather affects the life of batteries small and large, meaning that electric bikes or cars drain more quickly in chilly conditions. Here are some tricks to avoid getting caught out.

Electric bicycles

For owners of electric bikes, the advice is pretty simple: make sure you don't leave your battery in the freezing cold when you're not using the bike. A typical bicycle battery can withstand temperatures down to -20°C sub-zero temperatures will still drain them much faster.

"Take the battery off your bike if possible, and take it inside,” Wies Callens of the Fietsersbond cycling association told VRT. “If you store them in the heat, the range will recover quickly."

"Also read the manual carefully: it often clearly describes how best to store the battery for the widest possible range, and at what temperature."

As a final tip, Callens advised keeping bicycle batteries in a warmer place when not using the bike so that they stay warmer. The cold will mainly have an impact on how far you can cycle. Unlike cars, there are fewer problems with getting your bike started in the cold, unless your legs are also feeling the cold.

Electric cars

An electric car, just like a diesel or petrol car, also has a starter battery. In principle, this can cause problems when starting though this normally isn't an issue for vehicles less than around five years old. Joost Kaesemans of Belgian auto association Touring notes that most electric cars are younger than this.

Nonetheless, the driving range of your car decreases over time, Kaesemans told VRT. Mark Pecqueur, lecturer in Automotive Technology at Thomas More University estimates this loss to be about 20%. "A modern electric car has an autonomy of 400 to 500 km. If you lose 80 km here or there, that's not too bad. But if you have an autonomy of about 200 kilometres, that falls to 160 km."

"To increase the driving range, you can warm up the interior while the car is still connected to the electricity grid," Pecqueur advised. “Not only is that comfortable and safe because the windows thaw, but it also ensures that your car will not have to use electricity to warm up the interior once you are disconnected."

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Simply heating up the car also saves energy. "Many cars have heated steering wheels and electrically heated seats. It's best to have a temperature of 15°C in the car."

Of course, those with a garage can also prevent the battery from cooling down.

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