Debunking a recent viral meme to the contrary.
You may have noticed a viral meme circulating on social media last month, referencing a snow storm in Virginia that trapped hundreds road users on the I-95 highway for over 15 hours. The meme speculated on what would happen if half the vehicles stuck in the storm were electric rather than gas-powered, then attacked lawmakers who are attempting to push EVs on consumers. Despite not containing a shred of actual data, the meme was widely shared, even amongst some automotive journalists who should know better about the pros and cons of owning an EV.
While EV ownership does involve certain expected habit changes, getting stuck in one during a snow storm wouldn't be nearly as bad as the meme suggested. As VW makes a major push towards electrification, the German carmaker wanted to dispel the inaccuracies about getting stranded in an EV.
To prove the naysayers wrong, VW attempted to find out how long a 2022 Volkswagen ID.4 Pro S (RWD) could keep occupants warm if it got stuck in a blizzard. For reference, the ID.4 Pro S contains an 82-kWh battery with 77 kWh of usable capacity, enabling a 260-mile range. VW mimicked winter conditions by parking the car with a 20-degree outdoor temperature and the climate control set to 72 degrees. The car was left for three hours with an internal temperature of 55 degrees to simulate a car that's already been driving.
VW then ran the car for three hours with one person in the driver's seat (with the heated seat set to level one) and a phone charging via the USB-C cable. The company then extrapolated the data to find out how long the ID.4 could run in these conditions.
If you started with a full battery (which is highly unlikely), the ID.4 could keep a 72-degree interior temperature for 41 hours while parked. VW notes that "real world conditions such as temperature, state of charge, battery age, and other factors may impact how long an EV can maintain a warm cabin."
A gasoline-powered car could potentially last longer, but it varies highly depending on the type of engine and how much fuel is left in the tank. But even if the ICE vehicle could potentially outlast the EV, the difference isn't nearly as stark as some people might think. So if you are planning to buy an EV, don't let the unlikely chance of being stuck in a snowstorm put you off.