Chilly Survey Comparing Failure Rates Of EVs And Gas Cars In Frigid Weather Might Surprise You

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Despite what the press is saying lately about electric cars being inoperable in the extreme cold of winter, dropping like flies left and right, a report by a Norwegian road assistance company says otherwise. This report's real-world numbers suggest that the failure rate of EV versus ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles are pretty much within range of per capita EV vs ICE numbers in Norway.

One of Norway's biggest rescue service companies, Viking (similar to AAA), recently stated that they've had a record number of calls so far this year due to the brutal winter conditions hitting most of central and Eastern Europe. Svein Setrom, station network head at Viking, said that it had 34,000 service calls in the first nine days of January compared to 13,000 in the same period in 2022 (which Setrom deems as their last "normal winter").


One enlightening figure is the overall percentage of calls Viking received for electric vehicles to which Setrom stated is 21 percent. For context, Norway has the largest number of plug-in electric vehicles in the world, i.e. nearly one in four vehicles (roughly 24 percent) in the country is an EV. Thus, Viking's 21 percent is awfully close to the actual per capita number. 

Now, Setrom does add that 13 percent of the reported cases for electric cars were related to starting difficulties. From this it's easy to claim that EVs are significantly better than ICEs in the cold, but we think that can misleading. There are many factors, after all, that affect these non-start issues. Most fossil-burning vehicles aren't new—Norway's average age of cars is 10.7 years—so if not properly maintained or prepped will no doubt lead to starting problems in frigid weather. In fact, the same news outlet that interviewed Setrom reports that common ICE failures stem from weak batteries and/or poorly-maintained cars. On the other hand, electric vehicles don't really have age to worry about, but the internal batteries don't charge well in extreme cold unless they're pre-conditioned (or heated). 

Photo credits: Viking Assistance Group
Tags:  Tesla, Gas, rivian, evs, winter