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Will electric cars work in the cold? Ford dispels myths

Ford survey indicates poor perception about electric cars in some conditions

Published: September 6, 2019, 10:30 PM
Updated: September 12, 2019, 2:11 AM

Ford electric SUV prototype winter testing

One of the many concerns motorists have about Electric Vehicles is winter performance. Many people are aware of the benefits of EVs when the snow doesn’t fly, but for the majority of Canadians, paralyzing snowstorms are a reality several times each year.

A Ford-commissioned survey of drivers (in China, Europe and the US) has found that a majority expects EVs will eventually relegate gasoline models to classic car status, and probably not too far away, but they are still weary of embracing the technology because of the regions in which they drive.

Ford electric SUV prototype winter testing

Just 19% of drivers surveyed would trust an EV in sloppy weather and only 29% would choose a vehicle with a motor over one with an internal combustion engine in an emergency evacuation. Further, only 13% would expect an EV to be able to tow something, and just 18% think an EV can be as fast as a regular-engined vehicle.

However, as Ford readies its fully-electric, Mustang-inspired SUV, it is using the results of the survey to dispel some of the myths surrounding EVs, starting with the video that made the rounds several weeks back of an all-electric F-150 pickup prototype towing more than 450,000 kg.

The belief that EVs are slow came from the reality that EVs were initially intended to preserve fuel and fuel costs, and came equipped with heavy batteries that didn’t store a lot of juice. As the technology evolved, so has performance.

Many other companies (Audi, Jaguar, Tesla and now Porsche) have proven that EVs can hold their own in performance and now Ford has taken its Mustang-inspired utility vehicle out of the simulation lab and onto the track.

And finally, more than 80% of drivers would not pick an EV because of the winter weather in their regions, but even 65% would not pick an EV because they need all-wheel drive. The reason is that many know firsthand that electric charges do not last as long in cold weather, as evidenced in their mobile phones.

However, to counter that myth, Ford points out that the country with the widest acceptance of EVs is Norway (averaging about 70,000 vehicles annually), and further points out that mile-high Denver is one of the US’s top EV markets. And the company is going to extremes in cold-weather testing.

The company is counteracting the myths by equipping vehicles with larger batteries and more efficient computerized systems, to grant them longer driving ranges even when winter cold saps the power, and to quickly find a charging station when you start to get anxious.