Lyft’s guide to the transportation revolution

EV buying tip #3: Live in a cold climate? Get a battery that can handle the chill

Bryan Gardiner - Apr 24, 2023
EV Buying Guide: Plug 3
Illustration by Betsy Falco

Batteries — at least the lithium-ion variety primarily used in EVs — are a lot like people when it comes to their temperature preferences. They’re most comfortable (and functional) when it’s around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. 

EV range takes a significant hit in cold weather. Depending on the vehicle and how cold it is outside, total range loss for an EV in below-freezing temperatures can be anywhere between 3 and 30 percent. The main culprit? Your vehicle’s heater. While internal combustion cars can capture and reuse the heat generated by the engine, it costs kilowatts to warm up an engineless EV — lots of them. (It should be pointed out that EV makers are increasingly using more efficient heat pumps for climate control, which should help.)

So if you live in a consistently cold climate, you might want to consider a larger battery as range will take a hit during the coldest months. 

Once you’ve purchased your EV, you can also try out some range-saving hacks. For example, use your vehicle’s heated seats and steering wheel, if it has them, instead of the climate controls. Both are much more efficient than the cabin heater and far less taxing on the battery. Another option is to preheat your EV while it’s still plugged in at home: If your vehicle is connected to an energy source, many EVs will use the charger, not the battery, to heat up the cabin before you leave. 

Hot temperatures are a different story. Instead of slowing down chemical reactions in the battery cells, hot weather tends to speed them up. These faster reaction times don’t result in range loss, but they can prematurely age the battery and result in quicker degradation. So if you live close to Death Valley, look for a good battery warranty.

Also in this series: 

The content provided in this series is for informational purposes only. Lyft makes no representations as to the accuracy and completeness of this information. Unless otherwise stated, Lyft is not affiliated with any businesses or organizations mentioned in this series.