Heated Electric Motorcycle Jackets for Cold Weather Driving in Electric Cars

Electric cars have a problem in winter, batteries don't do as well in the cold and heaters drain the battery even faster. I came across a neat article talking about all of the tips electric car owners are sharing about how to stay warm in the chilly weather without making matters even worse, and, yes, motorcycles are involved.

After discussing all sorts of tech fixes promised for some indeterminate future date, the best solution seems to be either snowmobile suits (yeah, I'm sure that works well in the confines of a small electric car) or heated motorcycle jackets which draw less current than the heaters installed by the factory. It sounds like a good idea since heated jackets, gloves and other items have been a staple of cold weather motorcycle touring for many years. They're well designed, fully tested and reasonably priced.

Fossil fuels keep winning in the real world

Since electrics are already better when confined to urban areas and shorter commutes because of range and recharge concerns, and the cold weather issue noted here means they're better suited to warmer climates, (though air conditioning is an issue during hot weather), you begin to think that electric vehicles may not be a very good fit in the real world where we actually live. Do they work for some drivers in some locations within a specific set of circumstances? Of course, but wide acceptance from everyone else is likely a very long way off, if it is ever going to happen at all.

It's almost as though the fossil fuels that won in the marketplace over the last century simply work better in vehicles than the alternatives, in other words, the voluntary choices of hundreds of millions of car buyers are a better answer to our transportation needs than the prescriptions of a few, no matter how passionate and heartfelt they may be.

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  1. Scotduke says

    The latest developments in electric vehicle power packs are for high performance capacitors. New capacitor systems are offering storage capacities nearly as good as lithium ion type batteries, but without the potential risks of overheating and I believe also without the drop in performance in cold weather. They are also a good deal less bulky and offer a longer working life.

    The comparatively low price of fuel in the US means that it will be some time before electric vehicles are cost efficient. The US is not the country that will switch to EVs first, it might even be one of the last.

    In Europe, we pay sigificantly more to fill a fuel tank. And in China, airborne pollution problems in the major cities mean the Chinese Government is actively pursuing growth in the number of electric vehicles in use. At present buyers will get subsidies in China to purchase an electric vehicle. But I expect the Chinese Government will go one step further and require combustion engine vehicle buyers to pay an additional purchase tax rate as well.

    • scott123007 says

      Ok Paul, so you might look like a dweeb getting out of your car with a snowmobile suit on, but last time I checked, they weren’t like wearing roadracing leathers, so I don’t understand the insinuation that they would be limiting.

      • Paul Crowe says

        Appearance has nothing to do with it, it’s bulk. Have you ever worn a snowmobile suit? Try putting one of those on and then sliding behind the wheel in the confines of a small car like a Nissan Leaf. You’ll quickly understand what I’m referring to. Can you do it? Sure. Would you want to? Maybe you would.

    • 7th_son says

      Coal still generates the vast majority of energy supplying the power grid in USA….plugging hundreds of thousands of these pug-in-only cars will only delay the switch to cleaner forms of energy like natural gas…wind and solar have proven to be outlandishly expensive alternatives that only serve to destroy the rural communities that urban administrations seeking “Green” alternatives have forced upon these unwilling rural communities. The subject here is cold weather heated clothing….what about 100 degree+ days and freeway gridlock…choose between air conditioned survival or getting home…nice choice…not to mention the added problem of getting those dead electrics off the road so everyone else can get moving!!

  2. GenWaylaid says

    My good sir, I take umbrage at your insinuation that gasoline automobiles are superior. It is simply impossible that any conveyance should surpass the horse as an ideal means of transportation!

    –Paid for by the American Association of Buggy Whip Manufacturers

    • Paul Crowe says

      If electric cars had challenged the horse, the buggy whip manufacturers would still be in business.

      The closer the electric application is to being stationary, the better it is, but if electricity is providing motive power, not mobile, like a phone, but motive, like a car, then fossil fuels still win. If you have a power cord available, then electricity wins.

      If a way is discovered to shrink electricity generation to something that will fit into a vehicle, like Ford proposed with its “Nucleon” nuclear powered concept car back in the 50s, then electricity will win, but the energy density and portability of fossil fuels is superior to electricity in vehicle applications by an incredibly wide margin. Electricity, after all of these years, has still not solved the storage and portability problem for any application where a lot of power is required.

      • Jason says

        Electric cars are not the best solution for long distance travel. They are an excellent solution for commuting and travel within a city.

        My wife and I have two cars. They have never gone more than 100 miles on the same day. We have a garage to provide secure charging and my wife’s commute is 7 miles one-way in stop and go traffic. When it comes time to replace one of of current cars an electric car will get serious consideration. I’m drawn to electric vehicles due to the simplicity of the design and lack of routine maintenance.

        • Scotduke says

          If it was me I’d cycle the 7 miles; cheaper than a car and better for health too. The benefits of cycling outweigh the risks by a factor of 20:1 according to research.

          Bicycles can last a long time. I’ve an old MTB that I’ve had for 24 years. And it still works fine.

          Motorcycling is better for longer city commutes than a car.

          My oldest Suzuki is over 30 years old, but that’s another story.

        • 7th_son says

          Make that Village…not city….the village I’m talking about is also surrounded by heavily subsidized wind turbine generation forced upon them by the Urban Green Enviro-Centric Crowd that like to pat each other on the back and comment on how wonderful they all are for saving the world.

  3. Jason says

    As I read this I am wondering why I didn’t think of this. I have a Toyota Prius and notice a drop in mileage in the winter time. On the stop and go segment of my commute from my home to the highway the car will run the engine simply to provide cabin heat. I usually run the defroster for the first 5 minutes to keep the windshield from fogging and then turn the heat off until I reach the highway. No longer. No more cold feet for me! I have a heated vest hanging in my garage. All I need is to wire up a plug for the cigarette lighter. The vest is a way cheaper solution than the $500 the local interior shop wants to add heated seats.

    • Paulinator says

      My wife got a little electric seat warmer on sale for five bucks, that plugs into her 12v accessory plug (formerly known as a cigarette lighter) . She LOVES it. She probably pays five bucks a week in gas just to power it, too.

  4. Jason says

    I love the idea of commuting by bicycle and have done so in the past but roads need to be designed properly to be safe for cars, bikes, and pedestrians to share. The roads around me have 2-4 inches of pavement to the right of the white line. Combine the lack of shoulder with drivers that will not share the road with a 45 mph speed limit and you have a dangerous situation for bikers.

  5. GenWaylaid says

    No kidding. While we’re debating the finer points of which powertrain is best suited to which use, someone is loading their entire extended family plus domestic livestock onto a clapped-out Vespa.

  6. Rob says

    I can’t imagine cars in the future not having some form of regenerative braking systems and some of the drivetrain being electric.

  7. John says

    Speaking of electric cars….the Audi a3 e-tron concept sounds like the next wave of useful hybrids, cooler looking than a prius at least…that or maybe someone can get those electric hubs from MTSU funded and producing or we can get some useful tech from this new F1 motor…er um….powerplant as well, anyways the way auto tech is going we will see all cars having some sort of regenerative power or alternative fuel in the near future, I for one will be holding on to my dear old fossil fuel guzzling ICE fo as long as possible though

  8. Tom Lyons says

    If the goal is to not pull any electricity out of the main car batteries for ancillary purposes, it is possible to have sub-systems with different batteries or different technologies.

    For example, you can find very small windshield defroster heater/fans which run off AA batteries. They might not be real great, nor have great battery life, but they won’t pull any power off your car battery.
    For body heat, there are battery-powered socks and probably vests. And there are chemical heater packs which are like “Hot Hands” packs that you can use. And some of these are the kinds that you can heat in the oven at home to re-use them again the next day.

    For an electric vehicle, just give me a golf cart with a flat surrey-top that’s laminated with photovoltaic panels, and I’m good to go. Use the real car on inclement days.

    • Paulinator says


      P=VI. A common hair-blower pulls about 1500 watts…or 2 hp. Unless yer putting the double “A”s into a fission reactor you aren’t going to defrost the windshield enough to see the wiper blades.

      • Paulinator says

        I would use a hair-blower to pre-heat the Lada when my kids were babies. Or really cold Alberta days the car never got warm. Two horsepower couldn’t do it.

  9. Tom Lyons says

    II’m quite aware of the electrical equations. My point is that they are out there and tthey do work in moderate conditions for clearing a misted windscreen, and the portable sub – system concept is valid if the goal is to avoid additional load on the main vehicle batteries. If a stronger defroster is needed for the conditions, then the subsystem will need a bigger power source.

    I’m not trying to defend electric vehicles. The are clearly not ready for prime time, or this conversation wouldn’t even be taking place. But IF someone got this kind of vehicle which cannot support the basic requirements without losing more of its already severely limited range, then external portable power sources would seem to be needed as a crutch until the electric vehicle development progresses to a more widely acceptable stage.

  10. Jiro says

    You think that motorists are going to put on motorcycle derived heated garments when there is cheaper and more comfortable hunting and other cold weather clothing available?

    As for your policy complaints, notice the rate of improvement in electric vehicles versus that of fossil fuel vehicles and compare the level of research dollars and the years of development sent in either type. Much more time and money has gone into fossil fueled vehicles and while their rate of improvement is high, it is not as great as the huge leaps that the electric vehicles are getting. Also, in piston engined vehicles electricity and electronics are leading the improvements. If you just like fossil fuels, you may take heart in a fuel cell powered vehicle, but efficiency and pollution is likely to further drive downsizing and downspeeding with increased energy storage, regen braking, ultracapacitors etc. All wheel drive via electric motors, regen braking, traction control is pretty tech weenie and you might even like it!

  11. Renegade_Azzy says

    If it wasn’t for congress, we would have seen more Hydrogen fueled vehicles on the road today. they picked a horse, and instead of seeing all the downsides (like how dirty those batteries are to make and where they will need to go eventually) they blindly stick to their pick.

    Its what caused GM to sink their H2 program and go with the volt.

  12. Ed says

    Don’t have an electric car. Don’t know how much room is in one, but if I had one I would probably fit a catalytic tent heater in it. Or burn myself trying.

  13. Bjorn says

    I’ve seen some EVs that use water cooling, surely a heater could be run off these.
    That said, I don’t pay enough attention to cars of any stripe to know if these water cooled types are the exception or the rule.

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