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Preconditioning an electric vehicle battery: what's involved?

Preconditioning an electric vehicle battery - what's involved?

Tired of seeing your electric car's range melt away in cold weather? There's a simple and little-known solution to optimize your battery's performance and gain precious kilometers: battery preconditioning. battery preconditioning.

In fact, when the temperature reaches 10° or less, there's a drop in drop in energy efficiency. In general, in very cold weather, an electric car's battery can see its energy efficiency efficiency by 30 to 50%..

Also read : Electric car range: 6 winter tips

So, what does this system really consist of? How does this technology optimize your vehicle's performance and extend its life? 

In this article, we'll explore the ins and outs of this on-board technology and answer your questions: what is battery preconditioning and what are its benefits for your electric vehicle ?

Table of contents

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The birth of this technology

While battery technology is constantly evolving, battery preconditioning is a recent innovation that optimizes performance. But where does this on-board technology come from?

Preconditioning batteries to protect them from the cold is a long-standing ancient practicebut its use electric vehicles is more recent..

The first to integrate this technology is none other than the Chevrolet Volta plug-in hybrid launched on the electric market in 2011. Available via its mobile app or on-board computer, it was possible to program the start time to regulate battery temperature.

The second to offer this feature was Tesla with the Tesla Model Sshortly after the launch of the Chevrolet Volt. Meanwhile, the BMW i3 also arrived on the market.

If you are interested in this feature, it is available on the following electric car models:

Older electric cars generally don't have this feature. In fact, these cars are equipped with passive passive air cooling of the battery and without DC fast charging.

This system has now become commonplace with new models, especially those with larger batteries. 

💡 Did you know? The fast charging has become one of the essential purchasing criteriaintrinsically linked to the criterion n°1 which isautonomyit is now.

In short, this type of system enables a battery tobetter cold fast-charging performance.

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How does electric car battery preconditioning work?

Battery preconditioning sounds a little like science fiction. However, this on-board technology is very real, and is found in most recent electric vehicles, as mentioned above. 

But how exactly does this system work? Is it magic or pure engineering? Let's peel back the virtual hood and find out what this preconditioning principle is all about.

Factual side

The benefits of preconditioning, or more commonly known as "preheatingpreheating"lies in the fact of driving a preheated or cooled car. The main aim is to bring it up to a temperature temperature for optimum performance. This process usually takes about 15 to 20 minutes.

Between 30 and 40 minutes before departurethe system switches on to ensure a comfortable indoor temperature of around 20°C. If the car is plugged in, l'advantage is tenfold. In fact, electricity from the grid provides thermal comfortpreserving the battery's charge. So you start off with a full battery, without wasting energy on heating or air conditioning.

In short, it contributes not only to the comfort comfortbut also to thecar's autonomy. What's more, battery preconditioning enables50 kW without damaging the battery.. For most vehicles, this value is adequate to preserve the integrity of the car's chemical accumulator. However, this is only an average, as it depends on the number of cells depends on the number of cells in the battery.

The technical side

To ensure optimum optimum performance of the battery during its charge and discharge cyclesit is crucial that the cells remain within an ideal ideal temperature range. Too low or excessive too low or excessive temperatures compromise compromises not only power performancebut also the battery life. So, to reconcile user performance and battery preservation, this preheating technology actively controls battery temperature via a cooling process.

Electric vehicles equipped with the preconditioning system use a coolant to regulate battery temperature. coolant to regulate battery temperatureor, more precisely thermal management using water.

Indeed, temperature preconditioning is easy to use. To optimize this feature, it is essential to switch off the electric motor and lock the vehicle. Make sure that the battery is more than 45% chargedto activate this function.

There are 2 methods both of which are integrated into the cooling circuit:

  • heat pump on the compressor side,
  • a electrical resistance.

The second option is more advantageous for several reasons: 

  • heating is faster and more efficient, 
  • reduces battery charge faster during preconditioning 

However, its energy consumption is higher (double or even triple that of a heat pump), thus increasing the battery's power demand and accelerating heating (Joule effect on the battery).

What are the advantages of preconditioning?

This on-board technology offers numerous advantages, both for the health of your battery and for your driving comfort. 

As demonstrated throughout this article, the many benefits of battery preconditioning are well established. By heating or cooling the battery before use, this intelligent feature optimizes its performance and durability, while at the same time enhance your driving experience.

The benefits are as follows: 

  • comfort comfort,
  • reliability improved,
  • reduces the risk of damage,
  • ensures a pre-heated cabin before departure,
  • promotes battery life by maintaining optimum temperatures,
  • ability to improve the range of electric vehicles in extreme weather conditions,
  • efficiency increase of around 10%.equivalent to an extra 50 km,
  • enables the battery to maintain its optimum performance over the long term.

In short, battery preconditioning is a crucial element for electric vehicle owners, offering benefits that will improve as the technology evolves.

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Is preconditioning really useful for your electric vehicle?

As we saw earlier, battery preconditioning offers a number of interesting advantages for your electric vehicle. However, the actual impact depends on a number of factors, such as : 

  • the weather, 
  • journey time,
  • the electric car model.

For drivers in cold climates cold climates or those who travel long distancespreconditioning can be particularly beneficial, offering greater autonomy and preserving battery life.

Nevertheless, the benefits may be less noticeable if you don't meet the above criteria. 

In short, while preconditioning can be a useful tool for optimizing the performance of electric vehicles, its effectiveness varies according to operating conditions and individual preferences.

It is also important to note that preconditioning requires your vehicle to be connected to a charging station.


Battery preconditioning for electric vehicles is more than just a technological convenience. more than just a technological convenience it's a intelligent strategy to optimize your car's performance while preserving its durability. Understanding and effectively using this feature can make a real difference to your electric driving experience.

On the one hand, preconditioning offers a means of maximizing the energy efficiency of electric vehicle fleets. electric vehicle fleetsby :

  • reduce operating costs,
  • guarantee well-prepared batteries, 
  • offer reliable service to their customers, strengthening their reputation and competitiveness in the marketplace.

On the other hand, preconditioning offers individuals :  

  • enhanced comfort,
  • extends the life of the electric vehicle, 
  • ensures friendly departures and stress-free journeys, even in cold weather,
  • maximizes your investment in your eco-friendly car.

Don't hesitate to consult our other articles to discover other tips for optimizing the range and performance of your electric car.

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Picture of Maëlle Laurent
Maëlle Laurent

Committed to sustainable mobility, a sector revolutionizing the way we get around, I contribute to the energy transition through my articles.

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