As winter takes hold in much of the United States, Americans’ interest in electric vehicles continues to warm up – driven by models such as the Volkswagen ID.4 SUV, due to hit dealers in a matter of weeks. But the season can spark questions among EV-curious drivers about how an electric vehicle can stand up when the temperatures drop.
The answer is: quite well, if owners prepare a bit and take advantage of the benefits EV technology can offer.
“Winter isn’t a reason to avoid joining the EV revolution,” said Matthew Renna, vice president of E-mobility and innovation at Volkswagen of America. “We’ve designed the ID.4 to make the transition to electric driving as seamless as possible regardless of the season, and we think owners will enjoy it year round.”
Cold temperatures can affect the efficiency of all vehicles, and it’s not that modern EV batteries perform markedly worse in cold temperatures. Rather, it’s that heating requires more energy. In a fossil-fueled vehicle, typically a third of the fuel burned escapes the engine as heat, some of which can be used to warm the interior. In an electric vehicle, where the motor may be up to 95 percent efficient, there’s no spare energy lying around to be used on interior climate control.
Powering those heaters will lessen an EV’s range by a moderate amount, especially in temperatures below freezing. But the Volkswagen ID.4 EV was designed with several technologies meant to optimize heating efficiency while minimizing the impact cold temps will have on the vehicle.
The first is pre-heating. Just as people warm up gas-powered vehicles, you can use the Volkswagen Car-Net mobile app to start heating the ID.4 while it’s still connected to the charger. This uses energy from the grid rather than from the vehicle battery, preserving range, and leaving you with a toasty car when you’re ready to depart.
Every 2021 VW ID.4 EV comes with heated front seats and a heated steering wheel – two features that winter veterans swear by, since they heat your body directly providing an efficient way to warm up quickly on cold days. Beyond those features, the ID.4 also has an electric resistance heater as part of the Climatronic automatic climate control system, which is designed to get to temperature faster than the traditional heaters from gas-powered vehicles, which can sometimes blow cold air until the engine warms up.
By next winter, the ID.4 will have one more tool to help handle what Mother Nature dishes out: available all-wheel-drive, with 302 hp provided from two electric motors. EVs have already shown their cold-weather abilities in other countries, such as Norway, where they account for 40 percent of all vehicle sales. By next winter, the ID.4 could be your zero direct-emission sled.