Seasonal fluctuations in electric car range are well documented. For example, here is our research on cold-weather range and idling in freezing conditions. But these types of reports focus on things like battery chemistry and vehicle efficiency, often missing the story about how drivers adapt to the season, sometimes without even noticing it. 

This study set out to answer these questions. 

We found that drivers are more cautious about range and charging behavior in cold weather. In practice, this means that they do not wait as long to recharge – regardless of whether you look at miles driven or time between charges. EV drivers are also more likely to use a greater percentage of their battery capacity (depth of discharge) when it's warm out.

These trends are visible in an analysis of 35,000 readings from 521 trips in Ford Mustang Mach-Es and 65,000 data points across 486 trips in VW ID.4s – all real drivers in real-world conditions. 

The charts below show both depth of discharge and duration between charge as the temperature increases. The first chart shows the duration between charges in time, while the second chart shows duration between charges in miles driven. In both cases, drivers charge more frequently as the temperature drops, showing a conservative change in behavior. 

We also surveyed our community of 10,000+ EV drivers to learn how they adapt to changing seasons.

“At 65 degrees F (or more) with little/no wind, I get roughly 1 mile traveled per 1 mile of battery capacity used.  At 0 degrees F, I get roughly 1 mile traveled per 1.6 miles of battery capacity used.”  - Tesla driver
“Indicated range while driving in cold weather is less accurate. Range decreases much quicker. I drove 105 miles. Range indicated 180 miles when I started, and only 30 miles when I arrived.” - Audi driver

Overall, the self-reported range reduction that EV drivers experience in the winter is 30% of what they expect in mild weather. That means that if a driver usually gets 300 miles, they expect to top out at 210 miles when it’s freezing. To go along with this, 60% of drivers find they charge “a little” or “a lot” more when it’s cold. Those who charge a lot more are largely from states such as Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota, Maine, Pennsylvania, Idaho where frigid temperatures are a winter norm. 

“I charge a little extra on cold days like instead of 78% I’ll charge to 85%” - Tesla driver
“In the warmer weather I almost never have to charge during the course of my day. In the winter it happens somewhat frequently.” - Bolt EV driver

In the end, cold weather affects seasoned EV drivers less than it is often reported. 25% of drivers said they “always plug in at home so don’t notice” the change and 15% live in climates where the cold weather does not affect them. 

For other cold-weather resources, EV owners in the US can connect their car to Recurrent for detailed temperature analysis and free monthly reports. We also recommend reading this article on preconditioning or sign up for our EV 101 series.