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Can I drive an electric car in snowy conditions?

If you are thinking of taking an EV to snowy regions, you are welcome to do so! Electric vehicles are actually great cars for winter driving. This is because the weight is dispersed more evenly on the bottom of the vehicle, allowing for better handling and making them harder to flip. Additionally, many EVs have dual motors on the front and back axles, making for better manoeuvrability.

And if you’re renting an electric vehicle through evee, you’ll still be insured if you take the car to the snow so long as all approved drivers comply with local road rules and driving requirements. The vehicle must also not be driven off-road (off-road is defined as any area that is neither a sealed or an unsealed road and includes but is not limited to unformed roads, fire trails, tracks, river and tidal crossings, creek beds, beaches, streams, dams, rivers, flood waters, sand, deserts, rocks, fields and paddocks) at any point, otherwise the insurance does not apply. Please read our terms and conditions for a full breakdown.

Further information on driving in the snow for each state can be found here:

Driving in the snow NSW

Snow and winter driving VIC

Image: König Tyre Chain on a Tesla Model 3 2020

Do I need to install winter tyres or snow chains?

While a set of all-season tyres can offer some traction in light snow and the occasional winter storm, they’re not designed for deep snow, ice, and cold weather. If you frequently drive on snowy or icy roads, install winter tyres for enhanced performance, safety and control. Winter tyres are only necessary when temperatures fall below 7 degrees, because they are softer in order to provide enhanced flexibility in snowy and icy conditions.

In most Australian states, you must carry snow chains during the snow season. If you’re planning on hitting the snowy regions of Australia with a two wheel drive vehicle, make sure to carry snow chains when snow is predicted under 1600m. Four wheel drive and all wheel drive vehicles are exempt from this requirement.

Note: Tesla recommends using their recommended brand of snow chains (The König CG-9 103). Chains should only be installed on the rear wheels of Model 3 and only on 18″ and 19” tires. The use of non-recommended snow chains has been shown to cause suspension and other vehicle damage.

Image: Tesla Model X with ski rack

Want to add a roof rack, ski rack or towbar to your EV?

Of course you can! Just make sure to check the manufacturer’s recommendations and instructions before installation. Keep in mind that these additions can reduce your EV’s range by up to 15%, so consider the added weight and potential drag.

If you’re renting through evee, check with the host if they can provide the accessory or see if it’s included in their listing (under the ‘Features’ section). You can contact the host after submitting a booking request if you need to ask any questions. If they are unable to provide a ski rack, make sure to get permission before installing anything yourself.

Does driving in cold temperatures affect the range?

Electric cars can handle icy conditions better than traditional cars thanks to their design. However, colder weather can have an impact on their range, especially driving on snow-covered roads which requires more energy. Using the heater can also decrease range by 10-15%.

But here’s a tip – preheating your EV while it’s still charging can minimise the range drop since it takes more energy to heat it up from a cold start. And remember, traditional cars also have reduced range in the winter, just less than an EV.

Recurrent Auto, a US organization specializing in vehicle reports on used EVs, has recently assessed 13 models to find out how much range electric vehicles lose in cold weather. Their study collected data from 7,000 EV drivers in different weather conditions and compared their range at 70°F (21°C) to temperatures as low as -6°C (20°F).

Image: Recurrent Auto – Winter Range For Popular EV Models

What about charging?

You can find nearby charging stations with open-source platforms like PlugShare. Always make sure to check recent Check-ins to see whether the charging stations are working as this is a community platform and some chargers might be out of order.

Image: PlugShare Australia

For further information on charging check our Charging Guide.

Be sure to also check out our selection of “Best winter weekend destinations” for inspiration on your next winter getaway:

Best winter weekend destinations – NSW

Best winter weekend destinations – VIC

Best winter weekend destinations – WA

Happy driving!