If you were one of the many Marylanders stuck inside earlier this week, it might have crossed your mind that a common electric vehicle wouldn’t be able to take on any form of snow. While a Nissan Leaf or Tesla Model S might be no snowmobile, all electric vehicles are modern machines capable of winter travel. Here’s why:
Electronics: A traditional car mechanically powers the wheels, then sensors relay information to the stability and traction control programs to fix wheel slippage. In other words, the system reacts after slipping has already occurred. The electric vehicle can combine an electric pedal with a much smarter traction system and can prevent slippage before it happens and successfully move the vehicle over the slippery snow and ice.
Weight: a large combustion engine in the front of a gasoline car naturally creates a nose-heavy vehicle that is prone to fishtailing on snow and nosediving during braking. Most EVs have battery packs that hang low and create optimal weight distribution to each tire. Even distribution means equal traction and less slippage.
Tires: The downside of most vehicles in the snow are the tires made for saving gas. Even all-season tires are too hard when the weather gets cold. Winter tires are made of a softer compound and have sipping treads that clean themselves as they spin. Some EV owners have reported that mechanics are worried that winter tires won’t work on electric vehicles, but according to the manufacturer and real-world testing, winter tires are the way to go.
Heat: walking out of your warm house and into a frosty car is a terrible shock to the system. The only solution is to start your car a few minutes before leaving, but that will waste gas and most people will still have to run outside to physically start their car. The Nissan Leaf, the most popular electric vehicle in the U.S., has the ability to heat itself up from the control of an app. You can stay inside while the car reaches peak temperature, and the battery won’t drain as long as your car is plugged in!
If want to drive an EV on the snow or ice, Your range may suffer a bit, and you may need dedicate winter tires, but you will make it through the treacherous conditions in some of the most eco-friendly vehicles on earth.