Cold Weather Cuts Electric Car Batteries by 40%

Levels of excessive heat proved detrimental as well.

Electric car sounds
All Electric cars in the EU and America must now have fake noise technology. (Fredrik Bjerknes/ Bloomberg via Getty)
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Cold temperatures can leach the juice out of an electric car battery, temporarily reducing its range by more than 40% when interior heaters are used, a new study found.

The study of five electric vehicles by AAA also found that high temperatures can cut into battery range, but not nearly as much as the cold, the Associated Press reported. The range returns to normal in more mild temperatures.

Electric car owners found that the range limitations this past week when temperatures across the U.S.plummeted to record lows as a polar blanketed the country in cold. Owners of vehicles made by manufacturers including Tesla, the top-selling electric vehicle company in the U.S., complained on social media about reduced range and frozen door handles during the frigid days, the AP reported.

“As long as drivers understand that there are limitations when operating electric vehicles in more extreme climates, they are less likely to be caught off guard by an unexpected drop in driving range,” Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of automotive engineering, said in a statement.

In its study, AAA tested the 2018 BMW i3s, Chevrolet Bolt and Nissan Leaf, and the 2017 Tesla Model S 75D and Volkswagen e-Golf. All have a range of at least 100 miles per charge and were put through the ringer at both 20 degrees and 95 degrees. while on a dynamometer, or car treadmill.

At 20 degrees, the average driving range fell by 12 percent when the car’s cabin heater was not used. When the heater was turned on, the range dropped by 41 percent, AAA said.

At 95 degrees, range dropped 4 percent without use of air conditioning, and fell by 17 percent when the cabin was cooled, the study found.

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