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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Surprise: Electric Vehicles Really Excel in Winter

It’s great to see more and more electric vehicles (EVs) on our roads, and I was particularly gratified recently when a reader said he bought a Chevy Volt (and “loves it”) because of a column I wrote in mid-December.

Shortly after I published that column, the weather turned bitterly cold, which is when the benefits of driving an EV really stand out. Here are some features that come to mind, based on my own experience.

1) Regardless of temperature, EVs always "start" and don’t need warming up.  Even if it’s 20 below zero, get in the car and drive off immediately -- and with full performance.

2) EVs never stall. How could they? There’s just a battery and electric motor.  If you see an EV on the side of the road, it is likely because of a flat tire, an accident or some personal needs of the occupants. If you’re stranded in the winter, your EV’s battery will probably keep you warm longer than the gasoline in a gas-powered car’s tank — without carbon monoxide.
3) No "puffing"!  If you want to warm your car’s cabin, you can do so in your garage without raising the garage door. In the Tesla, there’s a “smart pre-conditioning” feature which learns what time you normally leave for work (or leave for home) and pre-warms, or pre-cools, the car before your departure time arrives. Also, mid-day or anytime you can pre-warm or pre-cool the cabin remotely using Tesla’s smartphone app.
 4) EVs have a lower center of gravity and better front-rear weight distribution, which improve road-handling and traction, especially in snow. The all-wheel-drive Tesla handles better in snow than any car I know.  You’ve never experienced anything like it, including acceleration on a snow-packed road.  You'll wonder how it could do that!  The Tesla chassis shown at right includes the 1,500-pound battery and the motors in place, demonstrating the low center of gravity.
5) Traction control does not utilize an EV’s brakes the way it does in a gas-powered car. Instead, the electric motor only sends as much power to each wheel as it can handle without spinning the wheels.  Stability control means you'll never spin out, either. (I've tested this!) 
6) Accessories, including heating and cooling, work without starting the electric motor. When you get in a Tesla, everything except the motor and power steering are working. Step on the brake to “start” the car.
7) You won’t have to pull out your keys or your remote to open your locked car, at least with the Volt and the Tesla. This is particularly nice when it’s below zero!  Just have the proximity key in your purse or pocket.

Published Jan. 12,
2016, in the YourHub section of the Denver Post and in four Jefferson County weekly newspapers.

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