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Driving an EV in the winter...

  • 19 November 2019
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Driving an EV in the winter...
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With the first frosts of the winter I’m reminded there will be a whole group of new EV owners who will not have experienced dark winter nights on the road and there are a few important things they need to remember.  :triangular_flag_on_post:

Each winter drivers stuck in queues of traffic increasingly see EVs parked by the side of the road with no lights on and no hazards, giving the impression they have run out of fuel in their batteries...yet another bad advert for EVs against ICE cars…..but it can all be avoided with a little common sense.

 

How does an EV actually work? 

The way a diesel or petrol car works is the engine runs an alternator which supplies the ancillary (12 volt) battery. Therefore when you see diesel or petrol cars stuck in traffic they will all have their engines running to stop the battery going flat. An EV works in a similar way...ish.

An EV has a 12 volt ancillary battery, just the same as an ICE car which supplies power to the lights, radio interior light, heated seats and heated steering wheel. In the Nissan LEAF, this battery is topped up from the larger fuel battery at a rate of 1 kWh…..but only if the ignition is switched on. Switch it off and it’s just like switching off the ignition in an ICE car...and the ancillary battery will eventually go flat...and once that happens, it doesn’t matter how much charge you have in the main battery, the car will not start.

 

So what should I do? 

So, the simple solution is if you are stuck in traffic….don’t switch the car off. Just leave it switched on. It won’t use any more fuel than what you are drawing off in the ancillary battery and if you have a full battery you can sit there for a couple of days without any problems…

 

Shout/tag me if you have any other questions and share your thoughts and experiences below! 

Leo


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Quick survey: which other EVs have the same behaviour?

Teslas don’t behave like this but they might be the only marque that doesn’t.  (Finally there’s a positive benefit from Tesla’s excessive vampire drain)

 

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@NoPoke the original post was on the V2G forum which is presently used only by Nissan LEAF and EV200s…..but given that Tesla may well be using V2G sometime in the future we’d all benefit from any advice you wish to share.

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Winter Tyres, are they worth it?

 

For 20 years before I bought the 30 kW Nissan LEAF I drove 4x4s. Loved them, the go anywhere versatility of them was brilliant, come snow, flood, off-road tracks, there was no stopping me. Three years ago I bought the LEAF and the Land Rover never came out of the garage, I just loved the LEAF so sold the truck and became a one car man.

In January 2018 I bought the 40 kW LEAF and it was fitted with Dunlop Eco tyres, designed to give little resistance for the LEAF and more miles per charge…..however within 6 weeks “The Beast from the East” hit the UK and despite it only being about a 6” incline, because of the snow I couldn’t get up the drive without a run up. The grip from the tyres was almost none existent. Clearly an Eco tyre designed for dry and smooth summer roads was no good for the winter…..so to the internet and watched loads of videos on winter tyres, all weather tyres and summer tyres. I’d previously thought “winter Tyres” were a gimmick by the tyre manufacturers to get you to buy two sets of tyres a year...but no, I was convinced and so, having a spare set of Tekna wheels from the 30 kW LEAF and done hours of research I went up to the garage and bought a new set of Dunlop SP Winter Sport tyres, not the cheapest with little change from £400 but what I considered the best...and was I right. Not only did it tackle the drive without a problem I began looking around for snow covered roads on an incline and it was able to easily manage 1 in 4 inclines both going up and with the E pedal, coming down without a problem.

I appreciate that not everyone is in the same boat as me, that I was fortunate to have a spare set of  wheels and somewhere to store them in the winter but you have to look at this long term. I am not buying a set of tyres to last 20,000 miles, perhaps over 2 years, I’m buying a set of winter tyres to do about 3,000 miles every year for the next 10 years and because I’m using the summer tyres for less time. I’ll be getting 25 % more life out of them. Thinking like that makes it value for money. And if you can’t afford the wheels then my local garage would change the tyres for £5 each every winter...and the same in the Spring.

If you do change the tyres or wheels one thing to remember. The tyre pressure sensors will need to be reset….but don’t take it to the dealers. Mine wanted to charge £25 to do it. Get the manual out and follow the instructions. It’s as simple as pressing one button for the computer and running the car for 100 yds...that’s it.

Oh, and if you do change the tyres, don’t think because The LEAF is front wheel drive you only need two winter tyres on the front. It may be OK for traction but when the front stops or grips the road much better than the rear, the first time you try cornering harshly or brake hard, the rear will try and overtake the front and you’ll find out what your backside is for. It’s either all 4 wheels or none at all.

So, if you’re frightened to take the LEAF out when it snows get some proper winter tyres and you’ll find The LEAF is no angel, it’ll take on 4x4s...and even beat a couple if they're running on summer tyres…

 

 

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I fit winters to our car for the cold months.

I expect worse braking than summer tyres when cold and dry and when warm (>7C) and wet.  I expect better braking in snowy or slushy conditions and when cold(<7C) and wet.  

For snowy conditions winter tyres need lots of tread depth to be effective 3mm minimum.

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From the Dunlop site:

STORE THEM PROPERLY

Cared for properly, your winter tyres will last as long as your summer tyres. Store them in special bags, on their sides (never tread-side down). If you don’t have the space to keep them where you live or work, your dealer might know somewhere you can store them.

 

I have read many articles in motoring forums suggesting that 5 years is a safer age at which to replace tyres, though several have suggested 7 years for winter because they don’t generally suffer from sun damage.  These are rather than the 10 that is designed for in ideal conditions.

As @NoPoke says, a good tread depth is necessary for snow traction.

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