Can electric cars charge in cold weather? 

Yes, electric cars can charge at any temperature. Recurrent’s platform supports drivers in all 50 states, including Alaska and other cold regions, where people drive and charge their cars all year. 

Tesla Model 3 drivers connected to Recurrent have visited fast chargers 224,066 times since mid-2022. While some of the drivers live in warmer climates and never experience prolonged freezing temperatures, charging in very cold conditions is a daily or weekly occurrence for many drivers in the winter months. 

Conclusion: An EV can certainly charge in cold weather. 

Why did we pick the Model 3 to analyze? Combining multiple brands and models can lead to data bias based on vehicle sample size, charging speeds and battery configurations. We chose to use the Model 3 because it is the most common vehicle on Recurrent’s platform with over 4,000 actively connected. 

Do electric cars charge slower in the cold? 

Recurrent’s analysis of 200,000+ charging sessions found that charging isn’t taking that much longer at 0F compared to warm temperatures – 9 minutes longer on average, not including time to warm the battery if it is very cold. 

The time it takes to warm the battery for fast charging, called preconditioning, ensures that the chemical reactions involved in the charging process happen at a relatively normal rate. In addition to accelerating the charging speeds, it also protects the battery from long term damage. If a driver does not (or cannot) precondition the EV battery prior to a charging session, the first 30-45 minutes of your charging session may not add any charge, but instead will be spent increasing the battery’s temperature to prepare for the actual charging.

Conclusion: Electric cars do not typically charge at a noticeably slower rate in cold conditions, as long as the battery is warmed and ready. 

Does EV range decrease in the cold?

Efficiency and range for all vehicles decreases in cold weather, and electric vehicles are no different. A detailed cold weather study of over 10,000 vehicles found that range decreases by an average of 29.7% among popular EV models. 

Recurrent also analyzed cold weather idling in a different study. “For a Tesla with a 80kWh battery, this means you could sit in your Tesla nice and toasty for almost 59 hours on a full charge, or about 29 hours on a half charge.”

Conclusion: An EV does typically have a shorter range in freezing conditions but can idle as long or longer than most combustion engine vehicles. 

Does extreme cold weather do long-term damage to an EV’s battery? 

No, exposure to cold weather does hurt an electric car or its battery. The primary concern is fast charging a battery when it is colder than 32F inside, which can cause lithium plating.

We cover those topics in detail in the temperature and weather guide.