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Waiting on winter

October 2, 2018

I’ve driven Minnkota’s all-electric Chevy Bolt to a lot of community events, fairs and cooperative meetings over the summer and fall. The North Dakota and Minnesota climate has followed its typical seasonal flow of “uncomfortably steamy” down to “light jacket worthy.”

The car and I haven’t yet hit the “pull out the ice scraper” zone.

And winter is coming.

But seriously – one of the top questions I get on the road is how EVs perform in the winter. Although I can speak from what I’ve read online and the stories of fellow EV drivers, I haven’t yet experienced a North Dakota winter in the electric car.

Real world data is one of the main reasons Minnkota added an all-electric vehicle to its fleet. So we aren’t going to leave the Bolt in the garage once the temperature dips below zero. We’re getting it on the road, and we’re going to be real about the challenges we encounter.

We hope the challenges will be few – but there’s only one way to find out.

In the meantime, as I wait for the flurry of flakes, here is some knowledge I’ve gathered so far.

EVs in the winter

  • Electric vehicle performance and range does decrease in the cold winter months, but it also decreases for gas-powered vehicles. EV range can decline up to 40 percent in the coldest temperatures – a combination of using battery power to heat the cab and the decreased efficiency of lithium ion batteries in the cold (just like your smartphone).
  • EVs actually have a better chance of starting in the cold than gas vehicles. Being plugged in and utilizing the built-in battery conditioning system keeps the battery warm and ready to rip.
  • Because the heavy batteries of EVs run along the floor of the vehicle, the car’s center of gravity is low. That, combined with the front-wheel drive of many models, makes them great for traction and control on ice.
  • Norway has the highest EV adoption rate of any country – over half of new car sales there are now all-electric or hybrid. They experience harsh winters like ours, and they’re getting along just fine!

Hot info on cold driving

Here are some great articles that describe the realities of winter driving in electric vehicles:

If you have any questions or concerns our team should cover in the coming cold months, reach out!

- Kaylee Cusack, Minnkota communications specialist

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