All cars lose efficiency in the cold weather. However, drivers only really worry about it when it comes to electric cars, since the lower efficiency translates directly to lower range. For EV owners in colder climates, like northern portions of the United States and Canada, daily driving and charging behaviors must be adjusted in winter months.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that this range loss is temporary and there is no long term damage to your battery. As the ice melts and the temperatures rise, your vehicle’s range should return to normal. We’re here to help you understand what to expect in the winter and how some minor adjustments can give you all the range and comfort you need. 

Why Does Cold Weather Affect Electric Vehicle Range?

Winter range loss occurs for a few reasons. We cover them in detail in our hot and cold temperature article but the two main contributing factors are chemical and mechanical.

  • Chemical and physical reactions in the battery occur more slowly in cold temperatures. Cold temperatures inhibit chemical reactions and act as resistance that slows down the physical processes. This reduces the EVs available power. 
  • The major reason that EVs lose range in the winter is due to cabin heating to keep the driver and passengers warm. Unlike in a conventional car, electric cars have to use energy to produce cabin heat. In the internal combustion engine (ICE) that powers traditional cars,  the “waste heat” generated by the engine can be pumped directly into the car to warm people up. On the other hand, an EV has a much more efficient motor which does not generate nearly as much heat. The heaters that keep the car warm generally draw energy from the high voltage battery, reducing how much capacity is left for driving. 

Although other organizations have studied the effect of cold weather on range, including AAA, these tests are sometimes run in laboratory settings or with a small vehicle sample. This ongoing research project includes a much larger data set under real world driving conditions.

2023 Update: Recurrent collected observed, ground-truthed data over winter 2022-23 in order to update and improve the accuracy of our winter range data for several models, including the Ford F-150 Lightning, Hyundai Kona EV, and the Chevrolet Bolt. These verified winter range values reflect average observed data for a variety of drivers under a wide range of use cases.

We also include temperature specific dashboard data for several newer models, including the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6. 

Electric Cars React to Winter in Very Different Ways

This chart compares 12 popular EV models to show range loss in freezing temperatures, as compared to the ideal driving temperature. Note that the ideal driving temperature is defined as the temperature at which a specific model sees its highest average range. This exact temperature varies from car to car. 

This analysis includes aggregated and anonymized data from over 10,000 vehicles in the Recurrent community from across the United States as well as tens of thousands of data points from on-board devices that provide data on energy usage. 

All winter range data in this chart is verified with on-the-ground, real-world data collected from on-board devices or using energy in/energy out data. We will continue to update this chart as we verify new models.

Verified winter range figures include all real-world variables, such as uneven terrain, variable driving speeds and uses, and calendar aging in vehicle batteries. They show the average expectation for winter driving conditions in a range of real use cases.

Verified winter ranges are based on original Recurrent research using a combination of on-board devices and real-time usage data providing more than 3,500,000 datapoints.

Tips for Avoiding Winter Range Loss

  • It takes more energy to warm up a cold car than to keep a warm car warm. So, as much as possible, you want to warm up your car while it’s still charging. This is called preconditioning
  • Preconditioning is available in most EVs using your phone’s app or by setting up a departure time. Some vehicles also offer a “winter weather” package that is specially designed to keep battery temperatures in an ideal zone so they are always ready when you start to drive. 
  • Once your car is warm and you’re on the road, plan to use seat warmers, a heated steering wheel, and turn down the cabin heater. These features use less energy and provide targeted heat, giving you more battery to travel. 
  • Expect for longer charge times. To protect the high voltage battery, many cars limit the charging voltage when the battery is cold. Regular charge speed will return when the battery has warmed up.  
  • In many newer EVs, if you use the in-car navigation system to head to a charger, the car will condition the battery for optimal charging temperature, meaning your charge time may be reduced. 
  • Turn down regenerative braking on icy roads. You will want to be able to engage your brakes more than in temperate conditions. 
  • Regenerative braking may also be limited by your battery management system if the battery is cold, since a cold battery cannot charge as fast as a warm one.
  • When possible, store your EV plugged in with a maximum charge setting of 70 or 80%. That way, the car can pull energy from the wall to keep warm, rather than using the battery. Otherwise, you may return to a lower battery capacity than expected. 
  • Consider a heat pump if winter range is a major concern. This newer technology can help you preserve range when it’s cold. Jump to the bottom of this article to learn more. 

Individual Model Data

The data in the charts below comes from our full community of over 18,000 vehicles. We display the dashboard-reported range as it changes with temperature, and, where available, the observed range that has been ground-truthed and verified by secondary data.

2021-2022 Audi e-tron Winter Range

Model or Trim: Premium Plus
Observed Range at 32F: 80% of Original EPA Range
Observed Maximum Range: 94% of Original EPA Range
Heat Pump: Yes

The e-tron was Audi’s first all-electric vehicle and even though it never had the sales volume of a Tesla or Chevy, it was built with intent and tons of comfort features. Since the e-tron was first released in 2019, Audi has been able to fine-tune its specs to preserve range in wintry conditions. 

The e-tron is one of the few earlier EVs that was planned and released with a heat pump, allowing for recapture up to 3 kW of waste heat from the motor. Heated seats also come standard and, in extreme temperatures, telematics will inform the driver of limited performance. Notably, the 2023 Q4 e-tron was not outfitted with the heat pump, due to semiconductor shortages. Helpful internet friends suggest that you can check the equipment of 2023 Audis by opening the hood and looking for a sticker that says ‘R744,’ which indicates that there is a heat pump. 

This chart includes all model years, although there are some differences. Prior to 2021, the e-tron came with an optional cold weather package with adaptive windshield wipers, heated washer jets, rear heated seats, and a preconditioning heater for the high-voltage battery. Starting in 2021, the winter package was discontinued, but heated seats, four-zone climate control, and heated steering wheels are now all standard. The preconditioning feature is also standard, but owners warn that to heat the battery using wall power, rather than battery power, it must be set up using the MyAudi app rather than in the car directly. 

2017-2018 BMW i3 Winter Range

Model or Trim: 42 kWh Battery, (Range Extender; REx)
Dashboard Range at 32F: 85% (94% REx) of Original EPA Range
Dashboard Maximum Range: 109% (119% REx) of Original EPA Range
Heat Pump: Possibly

Off the bat, the BMW i3 does not sound like the ideal winter weather car since it is a small, rear-wheel drive hatchback with narrow tires. On top of that, it does not have range parity with other EV leaders, like the 250-mile Chevy Bolt, so each mile of range loss would be noticed. But, most early model year i3s in the US do come standard with a heat pump, at least until 2019 when it became an add-on. Many used models also have a gasoline range extender (called REx). Both of those help to preserve range in cold temperatures. 

This little BMW clearly experiences some winter range loss in cold temperatures, although the larger battery packs do seem to hold up better than the earlier models.

2017-2022 Chevy Bolt Winter Range

Model or Trim: 66 kWh Battery
Observed Range at 32F: 68% of Original EPA Range
Observed Maximum Range: 105% of Original EPA Range
Heat Pump: No

The Chevy Bolt was the original long-range EV for drives who could not get a Tesla. Although it does not come with many bells or whistles, its efficiency and range make it wildly popular in the EV community. Recurrent closely followed the Bolt recall the past few years and now, generally reports data for models with the updated, 66 kWh battery. 

The Bolt battery management system, which is responsible for showing the driver range and energy use data, is particularly sensitive to external temperature changes. Conveniently, the driver gets three range numbers: the best case, the worst case, and the average. Luckily, the 259-mile rated range means that even winter range should be okay for most daily driving. Drivers in inhospitable climates such as Alaska reports that at -40 F, the Bolt can lose half its range, but thankfully most drivers won’t see those temperatures. And, if you do, you still have more than 100 miles to see you home. 

The Bolt manual suggests leaving the car plugged in (with max charge set to 80%) when it is very cold or very hot, so that the thermal management system does not deplete the battery. When the car is off, the Bolt thermal management system will not kick in if the battery is above the mid-30’s, and will only start to warm it when the car is turned on.

2017 Chevy Volt Winter Range

Model or Trim: 18.4 kWh Battery
Dashboard Range at 32F: 73% of Original EPA Range
Dashboard Maximum Range: 98% of Original EPA Range
Heat Pump: No

The Chevy Volt has been on the road since 2011 and although production ended with the 2019 model year, it is still one of the top five most popular used EVs. As far back as its release, GM mentions winter weather and outlines the systems they have in place to combat cold weather range loss. The benefit to driving a plug-in hybrid in the cold is that the engine can cycle between electric and combustion, since the combustion engine will produce “waste heat” that can be used to warm the battery and cabin. As GM explains, “Using engine heat this way enables faster window defrosting and rear seat heating than taking energy from the battery.”

Note: The chart does not include the 16.0 kWh battery, which is similar to the 16.5 and 17.1 kWh lines.

Since the Volt was an early model EV, it pioneered vehicle preconditioning, allowing drivers to remotely heat their car with an app. Preconditioning allows the cabin to warm up while the car is still plugged in, drawing power from the grid, not the vehicle’s battery. Since it takes more energy to heat the cabin than to maintain a constant temperature, this definitely helps the Volt maintain its range in cold weather. Volts also come with heated seats, which are a great, low energy way to keep the driver and front seat passenger warm. 

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

Model or Trim: Premium AWD
Observed Range at 32F: 63% of EPA Range
Observed Maximum Range: 104% of Original EPA Range
Heat Pump: No

The Mustang Mach-E was Ford’s first big EV release, and the auto world welcomed it with both fanfare and controversy. It hasn’t been on the road for many winters, but it comes with the standard app-based departure settings such as preconditioning and warming the cabin. 

However, Ford did not install a heat pump, relying instead on resistance heating, which is known to have a big effect on winter range, since energy must be drawn from the high voltage battery to generate the heat. 

In the chart below, the dotted line represents real-world range, while the solid lines represent the on-board range as seen on the dashboard and by telematics. Ford's on-board diagnostics are very close to real range at many temperatures.

In terms of handling, many drivers report great handling in snow and ice, but urge interested shoppers to get all wheel drive if they live anywhere that might see winter precipitation.

2022-2023 Ford F-150 Lightning Winter Range

Model or Trim: Extended Range
Observed Range at 32F: 64% of EPA Range
Observed Maximum Range: 91% of Original EPA Range
Heat Pump: No

The Ford F-150 has been the best selling truck in the US for decades and is currently in its fourteenth generation. Part of the new lineup is the F-150 Lightning, the first electric truck brought to market by a traditional car manufacturer. If you’re using the truck for towing, then winter weather is the least of your range worries. Also worth noting is that power, which is necessary for towing, is reduced in cold weather, due to the slower chemical reactions in the battery. 

If you’re not towing and just need your F-150 Lightning to take you across town - or across the country - expect range reductions on par with its cousin, the Mustang Mach-E.

Like the Mustang Mach-E, the F-150 Lightning does not have a heat pump and relies on electricity from the battery to keep the cabin temperate. Of course, preconditioning via app helps save you a lot of range, as does relying on heated seats or a heated steering wheel once you’re on the road. And, since the F-150 Lightning is so heavy, make sure your tires are properly inflated and that a recent cold snap has not dropped your pressure. 

2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5 Winter Range

Dashboard Range at 32F: 97% of EPA Range
Dashboard Maximum Range: 113% of Original EPA Range
Heat Pump: on AWD models

Our results for the Hyundai Ioniq 5 are based on dashboard, rather than observed range data. 

Like its predecessor, the Kona EV, the Ioniq 5 was released standard with a heat pump on the international market. In the US, it debuted with heat pump technology only in AWD configurations. It is also equipped with a winter setting, which keeps the battery warm when parked, and a “Snow mode” which increases tire traction and adjusts braking and handling in bad weather.  Like most competitors, certain trims can be equipped with heated seats and steering wheel, and all trims now come standard with battery warmer and preconditioning. It will also preheat the battery for level 3 charging if you use the on-board navigation system to head towards a charger. 

2020-2021 Hyundai Kona Electric Winter Range

Observed Range at 32F: 84% of Original EPA Range
Observed Maximum Range: 130% of Original EPA Range
Heat Pump: No

The Hyundai Kona is the brand’s well-known small SUV that comes in both electric and ICE versions. Overall, the Kona EV may have be the one vehicle that most consistently outperforms its EPA-rated range. And drivers report that it’s great in the winter - it has enough range that it can lose a bit when cold, and the FWD motor handily navigates the snow and ice. An industry-leading heat pump is available in the Canadian and European Kona EVs, but it was not available across model years in the US prior to 2023. Startingin 2023, a heat pump is standard on international models, and included on the US Limited and SEL trims. As we get data on the new configurations, we're excited to see the impact on winter range.

In 2020, select US markets had an optional battery warmer to help charge time in the cold, as well as a “comfort and convenience” package that helps mitigate winter range loss. This package seems to be included in the 2023 model year for SEL and Limited trims, as well. From what we know so far, though, the battery warmer only works when the car is on, so merely leaving it plugged in is not enough to precondition your battery. 

2019-2020 Jaguar I-PACE Winter Range

Dashboard Range at 32F: 97% of Original EPA Range
Dashboard Maximum Range: 102% of Original EPA Range
Heat Pump: Yes

The Jaguar I-PACE is an EV that has been on the road for quite a few years, but remains elusive in the Recurrent data set. Therefore, we can only report on the dashboard range for its winter performance. The I-PACE is known for having a large but very inefficient battery, and there are rumors that a lot of the battery is held in reserve for cold weather range loss. That being said, drivers reliably get 200+ miles in our community, even with the oldest models. 

Despite the visible curvature in the chart, the I-PACE only reports about 10 miles of range loss in the cold weather - amounting to less than 5% of total range lost when temperatures are around freezing. This is due to the I-PACE’s early adoption of heat pump technology to control cabin temperature, instead of relying on the high voltage battery. 

The I-PACE also boasts a sophisticated thermal management system that pulls waste heat from the motor to warm the battery or cabin when needed, helping to preserve the range.  

2022 Kia EV6 Winter Range

Model or Trim: Extended Range
Dashboard Range at 32F: 93% of EPA Range
Dashboard Maximum Range: 113% of Original EPA Range
Heat Pump: AWD models

The Kia EV6 debuted with most of the same specifications as its cousin, the Ioniq 5. Both are built on Hyundai's E-GMP (Electric-Global Modular Platform) architecture and use the same batteries and motors. The big differences are in style and performance - a category in which the Kia outperforms with more torque and more horsepower. However, many drivers note that for everyday utility and comfort, the Ioniq 5’s practicality comes out on top. Overall, it’s unsurprising to see similar dashboard results in cold weather range testing between the two.

Like the Ioniq 5, the US EV6 RWD was originally released without a heat pump, while the AWD versions come with one. According to Kia, the “next-generation heat-pump-based thermal management system allows the EV6 to retain 80% of its optimal range, even down to -7 degrees celsius” (or 19.4 F). “The same thermal management technology works with the fast-charging system to reduce the harmful impact of that on the battery's lifespan.”

2015 Nissan LEAF Winter Range

Model or Trim: S 40 kWh Battery
Observed Range at 32F: 58% of Original EPA Range
Observed Maximum Range: 88% of Original EPA Range
Heat Pump: No

2019 Nissan LEAF Winter Range

Model or Trim: SL/SV Plus 62 kWh Battery
Observed Range at 32F: 62% of Original EPA Range
Observed Maximum Range: 85% of Original EPA Range
Heat Pump: No

Nissan’s LEAF was the earliest mass market EV, offering early electric drivers a modest range at a very affordable price. Unfortunately, being so early to the market, the first few model years were known to perform poorly in the extreme heat and cold. This is likely due to the fact that Nissan chose a passive battery thermal management system, rather than actively controlling battery temperature. 

It is interesting to compare the temperature dependence in the 2015 and the 2019 model years. The earlier LEAFs exhibit a lot more temperature sensitivity in both the dashboard and real range than the later models.

Nissan tells drivers what to expect in cold weather driving: 

  • Regenerative braking is restricted since the battery cannot charge as quickly.
  • The colder it is, the less charge the battery can hold.
  • Nissan doesn’t recommend storing the LEAF below -13F for over seven days because the battery risks freezing. In 2018, this guidance was updated to -1F. But again, our Alaska drivers report high satisfaction with their LEAFs. 
  • Some LEAFs come with battery warmers, which will turn on when the battery hits -1F and will turn off after reaching 14F. 
  • The battery warmer will not operate if the battery is below 15% state of charge and is not charging.

Tesla Model 3 Winter Range

Model or Trim: Long Range
Observed Range at 32F: 50% of Original EPA Range
Observed Maximum Range: 66% of Original EPA Range
Heat Pump: 2021 models onwards

For years, Tesla drivers in the Recurrent fleet complained that our reports failed to accurately represent the range variations they saw in their cars. And that comes down to two things:

  1. Tesla does have a very robust and aggressive thermal management system that kicks in at both high and low temperatures
  2. But, they also “game” the on-board range estimates that drivers see and that we long relied on for our reports. 

In the real world, drivers do experience lower range in the winter and summer as efficiency changes, as all EV drivers do.

In 2022, we added Tesla Real Range data to our reports for Tesla drivers. This data reflected the average fluctuations that a Tesla driver in a similar make, model, and year would see in the heat and the cold, using observed, real-world data. The dotted line below shows the Tesla Real Range as observed from on-board devices and energy usage. This shows a more reasonable winter range than the dashboard range prediction, in the solid line. It’s worth noting that across the board, Tesla's thermal management is still great at controlling cold weather range loss, thanks to a patented heat pump system that was rolled out in 2021.

Teslas will also limit regenerative braking in the winter to protect the battery from damaging charges when cold. Once the car warms up, regenerative braking will come back. Similarly, charging your Tesla at a Supercharger will be slow going until the battery warms up so Tesla recommends waiting until you’ve driven a bit to use a charging station, or using the built-in navigation to head to a Supercharger. If Tesla registers that you are headed to fast charge, it will precondition your battery for optimal speeds.  

Tesla Model Y Winter Range

Model or Trim: Long Range AWD
Observed Range at 32F: 48% of Original EPA Range
Observed Maximum Range: 64% of Original EPA Range
Heat Pump: Yes

The Model Y was Tesla’s first car to use their patented heat pump system to help regulate temperatures without drawing on the high voltage battery. This system, known as the “octovalve,” claims to have 12 heating modes and 3 cooling modes.

From Wray A, Ebrahimi K. Octovalve Thermal Management Control for Electric Vehicle. Energies. 2022; 15(17):6118. 

The system goes so far as to use the thermal mass of the battery to store heat, which can be moved around the rest of the car. 

If the thermodynamic details of this sound interesting, we recommend reading more about how the Model Y is changing the game on EV heating. Remember that you can truly leverage the efficiency of the Model Y's heating by preconditioning the car and using cabin heaters conservatively.

Tesla Model S Winter Range

Model or Trim: 75D
Observed Range at 32F: 45% of Original EPA Range
Observed Maximum Range: 63% of Original EPA Range
Heat Pump: 2021 models onwards

The Tesla Model S was the original mass market Tesla, released in 2012 after the Roadster’s popularity made Tesla a household name. While they are generally considered the higher end models, as opposed to the more moderately priced Model 3 and Y, the S did not originally come with the sophisticated winter weather engineering discussed above. However, as of last winter, all new models now come with heat pump technology.

Note that in our Verified Winter Range data, we include older models that are not equipped with a heat pump, which may decrease the overall winter range.

Tesla Model X Winter Range

Model or Trim: 75D
Observed Range at 32F: 48% of Original EPA Range
Observed Maximum Range: 61% of Original EPA Range
Heat Pump: 2021 models onwards

The Model X is an SUV built onto the Model S platform and has been on the market since 2016. Both the X and S come with an optional Subzero Weather Package, which includes any or all of the following, depending on the exact year and software package:

  • Heated rear seats
  • Heated steering wheel
  • Heated washer nozzles
  • Heater windshield wipers
  • Heated side mirrors
  • Camera heaters

All of these features help to reduce reliance on energy intensive cabin heating and defrost necessary car components. Of course, it’s easy to set a departure time and precondition the car and battery, too. And, as of 2021, Model X is now equipped with a heat pump.

2016-2017 VW e-Golf in the Winter

Model or Trim: 36 kWh Battery
Observed Range at 32F: 88% of Original EPA Range
Observed Maximum Range: 111% of Original EPA Range
Heat Pump: Some premium trims

The VW e-Golf is an electrified version of the beloved VW Golf and predecessor to the more recent ID.4. Long-time VW drivers will tell you that driving the e-Golf in winter offers good traction and handling, but those with resistance heaters note substantial range drops in the winter - probably because the baseline range is not very high. Like most other manufacturers who don’t offer heat pumps as standard, VW recommends using optional heated seats and remotely preconditioning the cabin by setting a departure time. International models of the e-golf have options for a cold weather package, including heated mirrors and windshield, but these were hard to find in the US. 

However, in the US, a heat pump was included for some premium trim options, although in our data, it was impossible to tell which cars were equipped with them. Overall, since the e-golf is a local commuter with limited battery size, we recommend preconditioning before venturing into the cold -- see below for more on that!

2021 VW ID.4 in the Winter

Model or Trim: 82 kWh Battery
Observed Range at 32F: 65% of Original EPA Range
Observed Maximum Range: 95% of Original EPA Range
Heat Pump: No

The Volkswagen ID.4 built on the success of the e-golf and includes several thoughtful designs to help tackle the cold: an all-wheel drive option, heated steering wheel and front seats, and remote preconditioning. In the AWD configuration, the car also comes with a heated windshield. However, both configurations include a resistive cabin heater, so there is noticeable range loss when the temperatures are low. Like many other models in this list, the Canadian versions do come with a heat pump, and is optional on the European ID.4s. When US customers balked, Volkswagen doubled down on preconditioning and the use of heated interior elements.

How Important are Heat Pumps?

If you’re shopping for a new EV, or spend any time on EV forums, you will see mention of heat pump technology. Heat pumps are a more energy efficient option for cabin heating and cooling. This technology is being explored because unlike a gas car, EVs have to generate their own heat, which draws on the battery and can reduce range. 

Currently, there are two main heating systems that are used in EVs:

  1. Resistive heater - this is like your traditional radiator or space heater. You simply pass an electric current through a conductor, creating heat via electric resistance. Although super simple and 100% efficient, a resistive heater can draw 4-8kW from the battery, meaning a major loss of efficiency and range.
  2. Heat Pump - this is the new(er) kid on the block, even though the technology is not that new or groundbreaking. Heat pumps use electricity to move heat from one place to another. They use a reverse refrigeration cycle to bring in heat from the outside air that has been boosted in temperature by a reverse refrigeration cycle. Read our deep dive on heat pumps.

There is a lot of debate about how much heat pumps matter and what temperature is cold enough that resistive heaters and heat pumps become equally efficient. One recent study of heat pumps in buildings found that well below 32°F, heat pump efficiency is still significantly higher than resistive heating systems, especially when temperature doesn't usually drop below 14°F. 

When it comes to EVs, in early 2022, a UK-based company performed real-world winter range testing to show that “models equipped with a heat pump fell short by an average of 25.4% from their official figures, compared with the 33.6% deficit suffered by those that relied on a regular interior heater.” Vehicles with heat pumps equipped averaged 3.2 miles/kWh, while those with resistive or PCT-based heaters averaged 2.9 miles/kWh. Those efficiency numbers can translate into big differences in winter range. 

From multiple studies on heat pumps, it seems like as temperatures approach 0F, the lead that heat pumps have on resistive heaters narrows. For instance, at 32F, the range loss with a resistive heater may be 25%, or 50 miles, while range loss with a heat pump is as low as 5.9%, or 11 miles. That is a fivefold difference in range loss. But, when you get down to 20°F, heat pumps may only get you an extra 3-15% range.  

Still, if you live in a climate that is cold for a lot of the year, or if you need your car to get as much range as possible in the winter, finding an EV with a heat pump can make a big difference.