Weather can impact an EV’s charge levels and duration
EV technology continues to evolve, as surging sales and customer demand propel the industry to unprecedented heights. Despite a Research and Markets report that the global EV batteries market will grow to $25.43 billion in 2022, some detractors cite the impact of cold weather on charge duration as reason to forego considering the electric option.
Let's examine the effects of cold temperatures on the charge duration of today’s leading EVs.
The science behind cold weather’s impact on EV range
Temperature influences the performance of EVs, with everything from operating range to handling capabilities impacted by the climes of the driver’s immediate surroundings.
A recent Consumer Reports article cites a series of EV tests performed by The Norwegian Automobile Federation that have confirmed the cold can reduce an unplugged EV’s range by about 20%. Temperatures below 20℉ seem to have the largest impact on battery drain.
Similar to gas-powered vehicles, EVs experience this decreased efficiency due to changes in fluid viscosity. Colder temperatures slow the movement of electrolyte fluid in lithium-ion EV batteries, which decreases power output and charge speeds. Once the battery warms up, both viscosity and efficiency increase accordingly.
Cabin temperature is the largest culprit behind additional battery drain. Efforts to regulate temperatures inside the vehicle draw significant battery resources away from the primary operational functions of the EV, thus attributing to battery drain in tandem with the weather outside the cabin.
How big of an impact is it?
Depending on the environment a driver finds themselves in, not much.
Motorbiscuit calculated “the 20% effect” on a Tesla Model 3 with a range claim of 272 miles. A simple math calculation (272 x .2) results in 217.6 miles of guilt-free, climate-controlled range.
It’s also worth noting that high temperatures have an effect on battery life as well, with cabin-cooling settings contributing to excess drain in summer months and hotter climates.
When it comes to maximizing the range of an EV, the most important factor to consider is the temperature of the charging location. While charging an already-warmed battery speeds the charge duration, a determinant of battery regeneration efficiency is a regulated climate (hot or cold) within the plug-in environment.
Tips to prolong EV range
- Warm the battery before charging or operating an EV. Home charging in a warm garage increases range capacity.
- Driving slower will extend the battery duration of an EV. As opposed to fuel-powered vehicles, EVs utilize little energy to idle, and fare better in the cities than on the highway.
- Warm the interior cabin of an EV to the desired temperature prior to unplugging.
- All-wheel drive EVs equipped with snow tires increase performance and associated efficiencies when operating in cold environments.
These suggestions – as well as the consideration of daily driving habits and how that translates to range capacity – can ensure cold weather doesn’t hinder the decision to purchase an EV.