What is electric car preconditioning and why is it important?

Preconditioning is one of the lesser-known but brilliant features of electric cars. On cold winter days and hot summer days, you’ll be the envy of your neighbours.

Put simply, preconditioning allows you to pre-heat or pre-cool the car’s cabin before you begin your journey. Not only will you feel more comfortable, you’ll maximise the car’s driving range and prolong the life of its battery.

It’s a win-win-win situation, in other words.

How does preconditioning work?

Preconditioning can be activated via the car’s media system or a connected smartphone app. By scheduling your daily departure times, the car will heat or cool its interior to optimum temperature – you just climb in and go.

Crucially, when the car is plugged in, electricity is drawn from the mains and not the car, so this has no impact on driving range. You start your journey with a full battery.

Also, because the car’s windows will be free of mist and ice when you enter the cabin, you won’t waste time waiting to clear or defrost them.

Does preconditioning improve range?

Preconditioning doesn’t add miles as such, but it will preserve the predicted range available at the start of the journey. Because you won’t need to use the air conditioning on a high setting, you’ll consume less energy.

If you’re travelling alone, we recommend using the heated seat and steering wheel, if fitted, as these consume less electricity than warming the entire cabin.

It’s also worth noting that a cold battery can reduce electric range by up to 30 percent, which will have a significant impact during the winter months.

Does preconditioning help the battery?

Lithium-ion batteries are based on electro-chemical reactions that are slowed by cold weather. During the winter, the battery provides less energy and will lose its charge more quickly.

Preconditioning warms the battery to optimum temperature using power from the mains, which will help preserve the cells. The knock-on effect of this is longer battery life and the preservation of the car’s potential range.

In some sophisticated EVs, such as the Porsche Taycan, the battery is also heated or cooled automatically on the move to keep it within an optimum temperature range.

For more information on how preconditioning works in your particular electric car, consult the handbook or search online.

Get into the habit of preconditioning from the moment you take delivery of your EV. On every level, it simply makes sense.


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