EV Range Loss In Cold Weather
What many do not know about EVs and EV range loss is that weather effects efficiency in terms of both miles per kwh and charging time. Every vehicle system on an EV requires power and drains the battery, so the more you use your A/C, heater, stereo, defrosters, cell phone charger, what most of us consider essentials, the faster the charge decreases. Add extreme weather reducing efficiency and your range can be considerably reduced.
According to Consumer Reports, “Cold temperatures can reduce an unplugged EV’s range by about 20 percent, according to testing by the Norwegian Automobile Federation, and recharging is slower. Running the cabin heater, seat heaters, defroster, and other accessories that combat the cold weather inside the car all sap range. For cold temperatures, what we have found is that 20° F and colder is when the range really drops.”
Charging in Extreme Cold Weather
Add to that, potential failure at the charging station can leave a driver (or OMG a family with children on the way to Grandma’s for Christmas) stuck out in the cold, literally. Out of Spec Reviews recently posted this video review of a variety of chargers in extreme cold weather. This video is a real eye opener!
Other Environmental Conditions That Cause EV Range Loss
Hot weather has its EV range loss challenges as well. EV Solutions Blog states, “Extreme weather conditions have a significant impact on driving range, according to research conducted by AAA. In temperatures of 95 degrees Fahrenheit and the air conditioning on (a must for most in 95-degree heat), driving range decreases 17%.”
They suggest extending range in hot weather by:
- Limiting use of features like air conditioning and smart stereos.
- Maintaining a consistent speed to minimize accelerating and braking, and avoid high speeds.
- Using energy-saving settings whenever possible.
- Limiting weight in the car. (Leave the family and pets at home?)
Whether travelling at Christmas or the Fourth of July, any long trip in an EV is going to take more planning than a conventional vehicle with an internal combustion engine. In many areas of the US there may be seasonal considerations contributing to EV range loss as well.
Hurricane season creates challenges on the east coast, fire season on the west coast, and tornado season on the great plains. Any of these events can cause widespread power outages, as can earthquakes that can come anytime with no warning in many areas of the US. With no power, there is no EV charging, and infrastructure may take days or longer to restore.
Do Your Homework
Electric vehicles certainly have their place, but the more research we do, the more we realize that a suitability study for potential fleet conversion needs to factor in far more that how current vehicles are used, how far they go, and what they can potentially be replaced with based on EVs currently available. EV range loss due to climate, available charging infrastructure, and local environmental factors must also be considered when evaluating the suitability of EVs for your fleet.