How extreme weather can affect electric vehicle?

How extreme weather can affect electric vehicle?

Extreme weather can affect electric vehicle performance, especially regarding charging and battery operation. During the winter, the atmosphere becomes extremely violent, which leads to voltage drops, power outages, and other serious effects. In this article, we will analyze the problem of extreme weather and its impact on electric cars in a European country rich in this kind of car, France.

“How extreme weather can affect electric vehicles? ” is a question that contains a great problem that attracts the attention of fans of this kind of car as winter has just taken its first steps. But the comments made by Elisabeth Borne, Prime Minister, Thursday, September 1, let fear the worst. On this, a Defense Council was even held Friday, September 2. The opportunity for the Minister of Energy Transition, Agnès Pannier-Ruchaner, to return to the solutions in case of gas and electricity shortages.

In fact, according to it, extreme weather can affect electric vehicles by power cuts, gas cuts, and voltage drops possible on the French electrical network in case consumption exceeds production and energy imports. We explain how it works.


Among the impact of extreme weather on electric cars, we have rotating power outages. In the extreme case where France would not have enough energy to distribute to all homes and businesses, EDF (or RTE, which manages the electricity network) can resort to rotating load shedding.

In practice, this means cutting off the power to certain neighborhoods for a maximum of two hours. The word “rotating” is very important here because, if necessary, another district can be cut off after these two hours.

But beware, these cuts are governed by a decree that imposes time slots to be respected by EDF, RTE, and Enedis. The cuts must occur between 8 am and 1 pm and from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm. It is, therefore, impossible to be deprived of power in the middle of the night. Let us also specify that some sensitive sites cannot be cut: “hospitals, national defense, security, industries at risk,” as specified by the site Connaissance des Energies via AFP.


But before reaching that point, RTE has other weapons in its arsenal. One of them is to lower the voltage. Instead of delivering about 230 volts, RTE could lower the voltage to 220. This means resistive appliances (such as ovens, radiators, hotplates, etc.) will have slightly lower power.

In addition to calling on eco-citizens to reduce consumption, RTE will also be able to call for power cuts of a few hours or days on industrial sites that volunteer for a fee.


When all these options have been exhausted, the rotating power cut (load shedding) could be implemented. A priori, this one should not arrive suddenly but would be foreseen in advance since the AFP specifies that “the patients at high risk treated at home (under artificial respirator in particular) can announce themselves to benefit from a particular and personal information in case of an electric power cut.” One can imagine that this information should give the patient time to find an alternative solution.


In the case of electric cars, there is not much to worry about. Indeed, even with a voltage drop, charging will still be possible unless it is too high (below 207 volts), but this is theoretically impossible. RTE cannot go below this extreme value on average over 10 minutes. However, the charging power may be slightly reduced with a slightly longer charging time, depending on the method used by the charger.

And even in the case of blackouts, we have seen that these will not last more than two hours and that power will still be distributed at night, allowing electric cars to recharge.


However, the question of public charging stations is still on the table. And in particular, those located on the highway, like the Tesla Superchargers or the Ionity network. Have they considered a sensitive site? We can imagine that behind the scenes, negotiations and negotiations would take place to avoid the power being cut off on these important sites for the mobility of the French.

But will we have to come to these strong measures? Nothing is less certain. Indeed, out of 56 nuclear reactors installed in France, 32 are currently shut down for various reasons (maintenance or corrosion). But EDF is committed to restarting all of them “by this winter,” Agnès Pannier-Ruchanier to AFP.

It is still necessary that the French electricity company restart the reactors affected (or suspected for some) by the corrosion problems and that the controls of the other reactors do not reveal new corrosion problems in the coming months.


The good news from the Defense Council is the commitment made by the French executive to amortize “part of the increase in the price of electricity” after the end of the tariff shield scheduled for the end of January 2023. We don’t know the details yet, but we imagine that recharging an electric car will always be cheaper than filling up a petrol or diesel car.