We’ve been having a lot of stormy weather in the UK over the past three to four days with recorded wind speeds of nearly 100mph and flooding happening across large parts of the UK.
There has been a lot of talk about people getting stuck at home, not being able to get to work and just generally not being able to get out and about. While it is best to stay inside in bad weather, there are some times when you just have to put on a brave face and get out there.
But is there anything specific you need to keep in mind when driving an electric car in storms, snow, wind and rain?
As with any storm, there is the chance of a power cut. While in modern times, power can be restored much faster than it used to be the lack of power can still be a pain.
The first thing the Transport Evolved team does when they hear about an impending storm is reach for the ‘Charge to 100%’ button. This ensures that our cars are ready to go if we need to.
In the future, when vehicle to grid capabilities are realised and available to the general population this will be even more important as your car essentially becomes your back up power source. In fact, with some careful planning, you can even do it already, using the 12 volt battery on your car to power a 1 or 2 kilowatt inverter to run important electrical devices like a small fridge or kettle.
Just be careful you don’t make all your ICE-driving neighbours too jealous.
Standing water on roads kills range. It’s a pain but there isn’t much that can be done about it.
The need for the tyres to move the water out of the way (the ‘pumping action’) requires more energy and thus less of your battery power is used to move you forward.
However, sometimes with just a slight change in driving position you can avoid the worst of this effect. Many roads have two minor channels in them where lorries and other cars have warn down the road surface. If you can avoid this, you’ll drive much further.
Keep an eye on the ‘current energy usage’ gauge in your car for some direct feedback on how altering your driving position can have major effects.
Depending on the way in which your car in constructed, you could be laughing here. For example, the Nissan Leaf with its fully enclosed battery doesn’t worry about floods.
Nissan even put the Leaf through a simulated flood in their testing (along with zapping it with lightning). This was something our very own Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield got to test on a flooded side-road while on her travels:
We’re not saying all electric cars can do this — the Mitsubishi i-Miev doesn’t have a sealed battery — but you’ll probably in a better position in an EV than a conventional car, which can stop altogether if its spark plugs get wet.
While most electric cars are designed to have a low drag coefficient, allowing them to cut through the air like the proverbial knife through butter, it still does use power to do this.
When wind speed is high, and blowing against the car, more power will be required to travel. Conversely – and if you are lucky – the wind could be going in the direction you are. If this is the case, just thank Nature for essentially giving you a push along.
To help our amazing cars go further on less energy, typically they are fitted with Eco Tyres. These types have a low ‘rolling resistance’ which essentially means when they get moving there is less of a force trying to stop the tyres from moving.
They are great at what the do. However they are less great – some would say, not so good at all – when it comes to grip in wet conditions. Due to this, drivers of electric cars should be aware that they may have less control in wet conditions than they are used to.
Sensible driving and paying attention to the road will mitigate this risk, but it is something to keep in mind.
A few simple checks can make all the difference between being stranded somewhere or having an accident in bad weather. While the tips below apply all year around and in all weather, they become extra important as winter draws in, as – let’s face it – who wants to be stranded at all, let alone in the cold and rain!
This is an interesting one. While pure electric drivers don’t need to worry about this, drivers of plug-in hybrids and range extended EVs do. This is a simple check to make, just check the dipstick and see how the oil is doing.
Also, remember to change the oil as directed by the service guide that came with your car.
Some EVs have fancy widgets on them that tell you if the tyre pressure is low, but for those cars who don’t have this it is prudent to check. Somewhere on your car, or in the user manual that comes with the car, will be listed the recommended tyre pressures. This is simple to check and change using a relatively inexpensive piece of equipment – if you’re lucky, something to do this may have even come with the car.
As the nights draw in sooner, and the weather gets worse, it is worth checking all your lights work. This is a five minute job (less if you have a friend help you) and will ensure that you are able to see as well as possible while driving and that your car is signalling to other drivers what you are doing or about to do.
Yes, we know this should come under ‘Lights’ above but we thought this was important enough to warrant its own section. At Transport Evolved we have come across many people who don’t know where their fog light switch is or even when they should be using it. A quick look at your cars manual and a Google for fog light use in your country should bring you right up to speed.
You can also support us directly as a monthly supporting member by visiting Patreon.com.