Tips to Managing Electric Vehicle Range in Winter

Alliy Sahagan coasted in a 2017 Nissan Leaf into the Gunnison County Electric Association (GCEA) warehouse in Gunnison, Colo. on the electric vehicle equivalent of running on fumes. Just minutes earlier, the Leaf’s dashboard told her the car had zero miles left and a 9% battery charge.

Sahagan was returning from what was supposed to be a 25-mile test drive on a minus 5-degrees Fahrenheit January morning. When she left the electric utility company’s warehouse, she didn’t notice the battery level was at 63%.

Sahagan knew GCEA operating guidelines warn battery electric vehicle (BEV) operators to expect up to a 40% reduction in vehicle range in Gunnison’s subzero winter weather.

“In my haste, I neglected to follow some of my own EV prep preaching,” says Sahagan, who oversees the association’s BEV loan program, which includes the Leaf, a Chevy Spark model and two other hybrid-electric vehicles.

She has since used this story as a cautionary tale to help people remember the dos and don’ts of operating electric vehicles during the winter.