Mythbusting the world of EVs: do you need to use climate control in an EV? | Top Gear
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Tuesday 6th December
Electric

Mythbusting the world of EVs: do you need to use climate control in an EV?

Climate control is a constant presence in ICE cars, but does the same hold for electric cars?

Published: 08 Nov 2022
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MYTH: "I need to use climate control"

Electric cars seldom need to hit their car’s maximum range because the journey is usually less. But if you do need to eke out to the full distance, make sure you pare back the climate control because it sucks energy. In summer eschew the aircon compressor and use only ambient fan ventilation. Turn off heating in winter and rely on heated seats. This sounds horribly spartan. Actually it’s no biggie.

Hot weather first. In your combustion car you probably leave the aircon switched on all the time. Ahead of you is a metal block that’s host to thousands of explosions every minute, and it has a red hot turbo on top. Underneath your feet lies a pipe full of scorching gas, with a catalytic converter at 800°C. They bleed heat into the cabin. An electric car doesn’t have them, so naturally stays cooler.

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That’s not so great in winter. So dress up a bit. Look – you walked from your home to the car with a coat on, and you’ll walk the final stretch from where you park to where you’re going with a coat on. So forget about taking it off in between. Also, use the heated seats, because that localised warmth is a more efficient use of energy than electrically heating the whole cabin.

In summer I wear shorts and T-shirt, in winter warm layers. In ICE car days I fixed the climate control at 21°C all year – in an electric car that seems daft. I wear in the car what I’d wear outside, and let the cabin temperature roughly match. 

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