Tag Archives: Snow

That squeak of really cold snow!

A quick post this morning and another winter weather observation:

If you saw my other post about our first big snow storm of this winter (affecting a lot more than just Southeastern Michigan) you’ll know that we got something like 8″ + of snow.

This morning, though, is a little different: The storm is gone, most of the roads are clear, it was warm enough for the salt to work. The temperatures overnight, however, were down into the single digits. At these temperatures road salt is less effective, and any resulting water on the roads turns to ice or an icy slush.

My observations here aren’t about that. You know when the weather gets really cold snow starts making that squeak as you walk around in it. Now imagine four feet stomping down holding up 3000 lbs on that squeaky snow! Yes with the Focus Electric being such a quiet car, driving around in squeaky snow results in a cacophony of that squeaky snow noise inside the car. I was a little surprised at how noticeable it was from inside the quiet car.

The things you notice when you don’t have the noisy internal combustion engine dominating the ambient sound field.

 

Not every day is a good day for EVs….

I’m pretty sure my EV blog has now become a winter weather blog! LOL

For those of us in Northern climes having a backup vehicle for your EV can be essential on some days. Like today, we woke up with about an inch of snow on the ground with another four inches expected to fall over the course of the day (strangely enough, places further south are expected to get double that snowfall). On days like these I usually revert back to my old daily driver:
The big bad F-350

Yup sitting there behind my ultra efficient Focus Electric is our big bad, Darth Vader like, black F-350 with a V-10 gas engine in it. On a good day this thing gets 11 mpg. (Yes one of the reasons for getting the FFE was to reduce the monthly fuel expenses–went from $350+ for the black beast down to $40 for the FFE!)

Now, mind you, we have a perfectly good reason for having the F-350 towing monster:
Truck n Camper

We’ve taken this guy all over the Eastern portion of the US (yeah in this configuration 8 mpg is very optimistic). I’ll be happy the day you can get an all-electric F-350 that can pull 30,000 lbs and still have 200 miles of range!

So, for today, I think the EV will sit in the garage and later I’ll go out and have fun in 4×4 mode. Happy trails….

Update: 12/15 We did end up getting around 6″ of snow. You could tell that it was snowing faster than they could plow it (at least for the residential streets). Driving around is kind of interesting: If you find a rut down to pavement you’re ok.

Took the FFE out to see how it would handle it. It handles the snow pretty well. Once you’re above 10 mph or so it only modulates power to the wheels (instead of using the brakes). This works out quite well–even better than an ICE as the motor responds to the traction control commands quicker than a gas engine would. You simply point it in the direction you want it to go and hit the accelerator–the traction control will determine the best speed to go at (even if it is only 3 mph–you just have to be prepared for that!).

 

Another weather related observation

Here is an interesting thought/observation: If you keep your EV outside in the winter (as I do) you’ll often wake up to a bunch of snow piled up on the car. In my case, during weekday mornings, the car will heat itself up and melt off some of that snow–mostly the snow on the windows. Snow on the roof and hood typically will stay.

Here is the thing: If that snow is the slightest bit sticky and you don’t clear it off it will stay on the car. EVs don’t generate all the excess heat like an ICE vehicle does that would melt the snow off the hood (and most likely the roof as the heater will be run continuously throughout the commute). Since we’re driving with the heat off most of the time to extend the range as much as possible the cabin doesn’t stay warm during the commute and heat the roof.

The net affect of all this is that any snow on the car will stay there until its physically removed (scraped off, car wash, etc.). If left to accumulate that snow could have an overall negative impact on range–snow weighs a lot.
Snow on the car in the cold

 

The weather outside is frightful…?

Well, ok, unusually we in Southeastern Michigan just got a slight dusting of snow–nothing like out East received this past weekend! Did you see that Lions/Eagles game??
Lions vs Eagles

Wow! Nevertheless we got enough snow to make driving out appear to be very treacherous but the temperatures are such that (high 20s F to 31F) salt works very well at melting anything on the roads.

That combined with the fact that it is still early in the winter driving season means that people are driving in their “ooh its winter have to drive slow” mindset. This results in traffic going about 10 mph lower than the speed limit on most roads (with that one occasional driver with an SUV who is impatient and attempts to go fast around everyone).

The effect on the EV driver of everyone driving 10 mph slower..LESS energy use! This morning I only burned electrons at a paltry 250 Wh/mile rate (on a typical morning my rate is usually around 270 Wh/mile). This is almost comparable with summer numbers.

There were a few streets, side roads mostly, that haven’t been salted yet and had enough snow to make them slippery. How did the FFE drive on those roads? Pretty good actually. It would seem that the traction control attempts to reduce power to the motor and use the brakes to keep the wheels from slipping. So far I’ve found the FFE to be about equal to its ICE brother in snow handling (The FFE would seem to have a weight advantage being heavier, but the ICE version has better all-season tires).