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Six Tips for the Battery

Optimal Operation of E-Cars in Sub-Zero Temperatures

CTEK Autobatterie Ladetechnik
If e-car owners follow the right advice, they can get more out of their car battery during the cold season.
© CTEK

January usually brings with it freezing cold days. For the batteries of electric cars, this means less power because the batteries discharge faster. With the practical tips from charging solution specialist CTEK, more battery power can be achieved in the cold winter months.

Icy times are approaching for the batteries of electric vehicles: When temperatures drop to -10 °C, car batteries discharge faster. »In winter, electric cars have up to 30 percent less range,« confirms Jeroen Franken, Director Large Accounts & SME Sales EMEA at CTEK. A conscious driving style is one way to optimise energy consumption, he says.

Franken also gives e-car owners the following tips on how they can best get through the coldest weeks of the year.

  1. Park the e-vehicle in the garage: When cars are parked indoors in winter, battery performance improves. The warmth of the garage helps to maintain the charge of the e-car longer and recharge it faster.
  2. Warm up the car in the morning: Most e-cars nowadays have apps that allow the driver to warm up the car in advance. This also warms up the battery, which in turn increases its performance. The car should be heated up during the charging process to prevent the battery from discharging again straight away.
  3. Do not charge the battery too little or too fully: In frosty conditions, the car reserves a certain percentage of its capacity for heating the battery - this is about 15 to 20 percent. If the state of charge is ideally maintained at at least 50 percent, the vehicle's optimum performance is guaranteed. It is important not to charge the battery up to 100 percent every day. This minimises the performance of the battery because it discharges faster this way. For daily use, a battery level of 90 percent is sufficient. If a longer journey is imminent, it is of course sensible to fully charge the battery. Most e-vehicles already have corresponding functions for intelligent battery conservation. If there is no battery management system, the charging processes can also be controlled using an app. 
  4. Use the eco mode: The so-called eco mode is different for every electric vehicle, but they all have the same goal: to drive more kilometres with less energy. Limiting the power supply to the drive motor and the heating already saves a lot of energy. This helps to maximise the efficiency of the battery in cold weather. In addition: most e-vehicles accelerate somewhat slower in Eco mode, as less energy is delivered to the engine. This increases driving safety by reducing the risk of wheel spin on icy or snow-covered roads.
  5. Reduce regenerative braking: On some vehicles, the amount of recuperation can be adjusted, i.e. the technical process for recovering energy. This happens when the accelerator pedal is released, returning braking energy to the battery. With full brake energy recuperation on icy roads, some vehicles can swerve if the accelerator is released too quickly. For this reason, braking should only be done very carefully in winter at sub-zero temperatures.
  6. Extra energy in the battery: It is important that the battery generally only contains as much energy as is really needed for the journey. In winter it is different: in the event of a blocked road or an unforeseeable event where the driver cannot get anywhere, it is good if the car has extra energy. This can then be used, for example, to keep the car warm or to charge the mobile phone. For longer winter journeys, it is advisable to ensure sufficient charge by planning an additional stop.

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