AA disputes cold weather concerns for UK electric cars

3d rendering group of EV charging stations or electric vehicle recharging stations with graphic display

A motoring association has stated that there is “no evidence” that electric cars (EVs) in the UK “struggle” with cold weather.

According to the AA, 2.3% of EV callouts for batteries going dead were made in January—the lowest percentage since September 2023.

Last month, drivers in the US city of Chicago complained that their batteries quickly ran out and took a long time to recharge after temperatures dropped as low as minus 18C. This raised concerns about the feasibility of EVs during cold temperatures.

One person who works on vehicle recovery stated he has “never seen this volume for electric cars.”

AA President Edmund King stated: “There were a lot of horror stories in January, originating in the USA, that EVs don’t work in the cold.” King will take part in an online event hosted by electric driving support provider EV Cafe.

“There is no evidence that the UK’s colder weather means EVs struggle, even if range is slightly reduced.

“Of course, EVs, like all types of vehicles, are not as efficient in the extreme cold, but our data showed they worked well in January in the UK.

“Drivers accept that range will be diminished, particularly if the cold means that drivers are using in-car heating and blowers.

“Many EV drivers adapt to the colder conditions by pre-heating and de-icing their vehicles remotely before they leave home, and then using heated seats to keep warm as this uses less energy.”

In order to persuade drivers to transition to electric motors “when they are ready to do so,” Mr. King stated that it is critical to provide them with buying incentives, improved charging infrastructure, and “accurate information rather than myths.”

He added: “It is not surprising that some drivers are hesitant to switch as the combustion engine has been with us for well over 100 years.

“Once drivers have made the switch they will not look back.”

In 2015, 8.3% of EV callouts received by the AA were related to batteries that had low or no charge.

This fell to 4.3% in 2021, and was 2.1% last year.

The AA credits the decline to the expansion and dependability of the public charging network, the increased range of more recent EVs, and greater driver education and information.

The company expects the figure to ultimately drop to 1%, which would be equivalent to the proportion of petrol and diesel car breakdowns due to running out of fuel.

Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show the number of new electric cars sold to private buyers fell by a quarter last month compared with January 2023.

The trade association reduced its October prediction of the percentage of the new car market that will be accounted for by electric vehicles (EVs) to 21.0% from 22.3%.

It said “myriad factors” such as high energy prices, inflation and interest rates, charging “anxiety”, and mixed messaging from the Government have “restricted demand”.

A government rule states that all manufacturers selling new cars in the UK this year must have at least 22% of them be zero-emission vehicles, or battery electric vehicles.

The threshold will rise annually until it reaches 100% by 2035.

Manufacturers will have to pay the government £15,000 for each polluting vehicle sold over the limits if they ignore the law or take use of flexibilities like trade allowances or carrying them over from prior years.

The sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans in the UK was banned in September of last year, but Prime Minister Rishi Sunak decided to postpone the ban until 2035.

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