As more affordable and longer range electric cars hit the market, the long-anticipated shift to battery-powered transports seems to be happening to actually happen. But a serious challenge remains: battery-blowing cold weather.
New research from AAA reveals that when mercury falls to 20 degrees Fahrenheit, the average driving interval for an electric car is reduced by 41 percent. When colder temperatures hit, EV owners have the same instinct as the burners for internal combustion engines, which is turning up the heat as high as it will go. This puts a serious strain on an EV battery, reduces the overall area and increases the need to charge more often to minimize the chance of being stranded by a dead battery.
"Appeal of electric vehicles continues to grow since a wider range of design and range options have entered the market," said Greg Brannon, AAA's director of automotive engineering and industry relations. a statement. "As long as drivers understand that there are limitations when driving electric cars in more extreme climates, they are less likely to be caught by an unexpected fall in the driving range."
EV owners discovered this during the last cold Hit the central US and Canada As the temperature declined, owners of the Chevy Bolts and Tesla Model 3s CNBC told them that they saw a maximum of 50 percent smaller in their vehicles.
Extreme heat is also a drag on electric cars When outdoor temperatures heat up to 95 degrees Fahrenheit and air conditioners are used inside the vehicle, driving ranges can be reduced by 1
The problem is that unlike a car with an internal combustion engine that can heat the cabin with waste heat, EVs must drain into their batteries to operate the air conditioner.
Smaller battery power means more charging, which increases the cost of operating the vehicle. AAA's survey found that the use of heat when it is 20 degrees Fahrenheit outside, adds nearly $ 25 more every 1,000 miles compared to the cost of combined city and highway driving on a mild 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
AAA tested five electric vehicles – BMW i3, Chevy Bolt, Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model S and Volkswagen e-Golf – all with a minimum EPA estimated driving range of 100 miles. Proper driving conditions were simulated using a dynamometer, which is essentially a giant car treadmill, in a closed test cell where ambient temperature could be tightly controlled.
In order to determine the effects in the driving range, scenarios for cold and hot weather conditions – both using the HVAC and not – were compared to driving at normal outdoor temperatures. Surprisingly, AAA found that the range effect was quite even among the tested cars.
EV manufacturers need to find a way to communicate the effect of extreme weather to the customer as they push to increase their sales market. Meanwhile, owners can take some steps to help reduce the impact of extreme heat and cold on their vehicles, says AAA. Take the time to preheat or pre-cool your car while still connected to a charger. And plan for frequent stops to recharge if you go on a longer trip, so you're not caught on the side of the road with a dead battery.