How do electric vehicles handle Alberta’s freezing temperatures?

Click to play video: 'Debunking myths about electric vehicles in Alberta winter'
Debunking myths about electric vehicles in Alberta winter
WATCH: It's gotten cold again, meaning you might be letting your vehicle run a bit longer in the morning. But what if you go electric? Andrew Bell and William York are directors with the Electric Vehicle Association of Alberta. They join Kent Morrison to debunk some myths and misconceptions about electric vehicles and cold – Feb 19, 2020

Alberta is in the midst of another cold snap and that’s prompted a challenge to electric vehicle (EV) owners.

The Electric Vehicle Association of Alberta’s Cold Weather Smackdown aims to dispel the myth that freezing temperatures create problems for electric vehicles.

“We see a lot of folks saying: ‘Electric vehicles don’t work in the winter. There are all these stranded drivers.’ That’s simply not true,” said EVAA co-director William York. “We were so tired of that notion, so we created our contest.”

READ MORE: Alberta’s carbon tax cut helping to fuel love for big trucks

Read next: Fireball facing lawsuit for selling mini bottles that don’t contain whisky

The video contest will award $200 to “the member that creates the most compelling video that EVs do, in fact, work in frigid cold temperatures.”

“It’s not even cold enough to begin the contest yet!” laughed York. “February might not get cold enough. -20 is child’s play for an EV.”

Story continues below advertisement

Electric Vehicle Association of Alberta’s co-directors York and Andrew Bell busted a few more myths for Global News.

Myth: An electric vehicle won’t start in freezing temperatures

When it gets cold, engine oil becomes thicker and won’t flow around the engine as well. It can be tough to pump through the engine block and place stress on the battery. An EV is powered entirely by electricity, meaning it does not use gasoline.

“Many people confuse an EV battery with an iPhone battery,” said York. “If I have my phone sitting in the snow for 30 minutes, it’s going to die. It’s not the same as an electric vehicle battery.”

That’s because the vehicle has an active thermal management system. The battery sits in a glycol bath, which is connected to a heat pump which circulates the glycol and keeps it warm using some of the batteries own energy to do so.

Myth: EVs take a long time to heat up in the winter

According to the EVAA, most electric vehicles use resistance heating, which generates heat almost instantly.

“I can preheat my car even before I get to it, even when it’s -40,” said EVAA co-director Andrew Bell. “You do lose range, because it’s a cold day, but not that much.”

Story continues below advertisement

Myth: An electric vehicle only fits with some lifestyles

Even if you live in rural Alberta, an EV can suit your travel needs.

“Most electric vehicle owners have a charging station in their garage. You wake up every morning with a full charge,” York said.

Current EVs come with a typical range of 300-500 kilometres per full charge.

READ MORE: Initiative aims to spark electric vehicle tourism across Alberta

Read next: Mexico’s richest man lists $80M NYC mansion and it could break records

Currently, there are more than 70 charging stations in Edmonton but Bell said most of the charging is done at home.

Myth: Maintenance could be complex

Maintenance varies between manufacturers but there is one consistent trait of an EV.

“There’s very few moving parts, very few modes of failure,” York explained. “There are 34 moving parts on the average EV, compared to a 150 on the average gas vehicle.”

Sponsored content