3 Points of EV Range Loss & Winter Failure (maybe more)

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.”

EV Range Loss driving in extreme weather

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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?)
vehicle system controls

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.

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Fleet Electrification – Big Win for the USPS MegaFleet?

Fleet electrification is fast becoming reality for the USPS. According to a recent article in PC Mag, The US Postal Service plans to buy 66,000 electric delivery vehicles by 2028, with a target of acquiring only EVs after 2026, representing an investment of $9.6 billion in vehicles and infrastructure.

Effects of Fleet Electrification to Consider

This ambitious plan for the largest fleet in the federal government will no doubt cause both mailing and shipping rates to continue to skyrocket, placing the financial burden on the American consumer. It also sets the bar high for other government agencies whose revenue comes from taxes to follow suit with plans for their own fleet electrification.

One must also ask, how is the USPS applying this fleet electrification initiative to employee and subcontractors’ vehicles. In rural communities, where there is minimal charging infrastructure, mail is delivered by vehicles not owned by the USPS. In these areas, will they still allow employees and subcontractors to use internal combustion engines, or will they force them to convert to EVs? That would increase employee and subcontractor costs and may negatively impact service levels in rural communities.

Fleet Electrification planned by USPS

Fleet Electrification Concerns

In previous posts we have explored some specific issues of EV sustainability and safety that make us wonder if the USPS is rushing blindly into a project that could have a crippling effect on the agency and their budget. The USPS will have to spend a massive amount on new vehicles and also add the charging infrastructure to every EV fleet location.

Infrastructure is likely to cost more than the vehicles in some locations since new and larger power lines must be brought to each facility to manage the nightly charging load. Many issues like how to dispose of EV batteries have still not been fully addressed, and some are asking if we are just trading one environmental crisis for another.

One popular EV manufacturer recently recalled 111,000 vehicles over issues related to fire risk. Emergency responders have a fresh learning curve to address with each new type and generation of EV battery, and firefighters need new tools and training to combat the specific risks and challenges when EVs catch fire after a collision. Those new tools will also need to be vetted for their cost and environmental impact.

Hopefully the government will not shortcut in depth feasibility studies to determine if they are ‘cutting off their nose despite their face’. Consumers feeling the pinch of rising postal rates may opt for electronic communications and bill pay over traditional mail. That would leave the USPS primarily handling packages in a very competitive commercial arena. Will they be able to compete with FedEx, UPS, DHL, and other carriers, or will they lose business and find themselves with a huge fleet of unneeded, unused special purpose EVs and an overall loss in revenue?

mail delivery
Fleet Electrification planned by USPS

Thankfully, fleet electrification is not the only vehicle initiative being undertaken by the USPS. The USPS fleet has more than 230,000 vehicles in every class, including commercial-off-the-shelf vehicles. Approximately 190,000 deliver mail six, and often seven, days a week. 66,000 EVs would only account for a little over a quarter of the total USPS Fleet.

Other Forms of Fleet Modernization

In February of 2021 it was reported that the Postal Service had awarded a 10-year contract to Oshkosh defense to “manufacture a new generation of U.S.-built delivery vehicles”. That contract for next generation delivery vehicles may include a variety of alternate technologies to address fuel efficiency, driver efficiency, and safety. What is learned and developed from that project could ultimately be applied to other industries and services.

We all want a cleaner environment, but ultimately, fleet electrification may not be the final solution. Hydrogen, biofuels, synthetic fuels, and natural gas should not be taken out of consideration at this stage of the game.

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Vehicle & Asset Telematics

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