AAA Study Claims Cold Weather Significantly Shortens EV Range

AlphaAtlas

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A recently released report claims that driving in the heat or the cold can dramatically reduces the range of an electric vehicle. AAA tested a Chevy Bolt, a Nissan Leaf, a BMW i3, a Tesla Model S 75D, and a Volkswagen e-Golf in hot and cold weather, with HVAC on and off. The i3 fared particularly poorly, as the report claims that energy "costs" increased over 80% while driving in 20F weather with the heat on, as opposed to driving in 75F weather. Tesla Model S energy costs increased 60% in the cold, and around 20% in 95F heat, and energy usage still went up around 10% if the drivers choose to tough it out without any HVAC. Tesla issued a statement to AP disputing the report, though they stopped shorting of mentioning just how much they think cold weather affects their cars.

In a statement, Tesla disputed the AAA results. The company said that based on data collected from its cars on the road, "the average Model S customer doesn't experience anywhere near that decrease in range." The company said the range dropped by roughly 1 percent at 95 degrees, but it would not release a percentage for cold weather. AAA said it followed test procedures drawn up by SAE, an auto engineering trade group. When the temperature tumbled to 20 degrees last week in Hickory, North Carolina, near Charlotte, Jason Hughes noticed the range fall when he drove his Tesla Model 3 on the commute from home to work. "It would easily use double the amount of power for that 15-mile trip," said Hughes, who owns four Teslas and runs a business that refurbishes and sells salvaged Tesla parts.
 

Sufu

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Cold weather quite significantly affects range. I've done highway trips in my Tesla in the winter where temps are in the mid 20s - so like dry cold, no snow or salt on the roads. My range nosedived about 40% for the same trip from NH to CT when compared to summer. Part of the reason is you also have significantly less battery regen available to you when it's cold, and the other is the cabin heater which pulls like 7kw by itself. If it gets colder and the battery heater kicks in, that will also really kill your range.
 

KD5ZXG

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Obviously need to burn a few dinos for heat and battery toppage.
Not saying enough to immediately move a vehicle on zero charge.
But enough to keep you and battery warm (or cool) and get you
unstranded after a while, or till the tow truck arrives.

Hey Mr. could you jumpstart my Tesla? I got cables...

-edit- actually turns out there is a 12V battery you could jump.
But the main battery keeps it topped, not the other way round.
If I'm reading right, not there to get you moving on a dead main.
 
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bartz118

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No shit.

Guess what.

Extreme cold significantly shortens the range of a traditional internal combustion powered vehicle as well.


Next up, AAA confirms water is wet.
I guess I don't consider 20F extreme cold. ( I'm from the upper midwest were we recently had three days in a row well below 0F ) Also, my fuel mileage doesn't take a 40% or 60% hit ( depending on what numbers you use from the article ) at 20F.

I believe this is a valid issue to write about for people in colder climates.
 
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kju1

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I guess I don't consider 20F extreme cold. ( I'm from the upper midwest were we recently had three days in a row well below -0F ) Also, my fuel mileage doesn't take a 40% or 60% hit ( depending on what numbers you use from the article ) at 20F.

I believe this is a valid issue to write about for people in colder climates.
You dont but a battery does. And its the battery that matters. Chemistry ftw.
 

mnewxcv

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Time to get a car that runs on water.


Wait, what do you mean water freezes when it gets cold?
 

jcollett69

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The battery likes an environment similar to what humans like. If the temp moves too far away from 75F, then the car needs to use energy to run the heating or cooling for the battery itself in order to maintain a moderate temp. Better to have lost some energy than have the battery explode from freezing or boiling!
 
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Also, temperatures below freezing can adversely impact the life of the battery packs so Tesla and others use energy to keep the batteries warm. All electric cars may not be the best solution for very cold climates.
 

Dead Parrot

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Never really noticed that cold alone does much to an ICE powered vehicle's range. Once the motor is warmed up, it really doesn't care. Most setups from the 60's forward have a way to warm the incoming air to a desired temp before it enters the engine. My 2009 Escape barely changes indicated mileage whatever the temp.
Now add in snow and/or ice and its a good plan to keep your tank near full just in case. Plowing through 6+ inches of snow does kill range.
Of course, the ICE gets a big advantage on winter cabin comfort as waste heat gets used for that.

May have to start requiring EV sellers to add a range chart vs temp to the window stickers.
 

nutzo

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I guess I don't consider 20F extreme cold. ( I'm from the upper midwest were we recently had three days in a row well below 0F ) Also, my fuel mileage doesn't take a 40% or 60% hit ( depending on what numbers you use from the article ) at 20F.

I believe this is a valid issue to write about for people in colder climates.
Other option is to move to a warmer climate :D

It's been cold here in Southern California the past week. It got all the way down to 36 a couple days ago :eek:

Even with my Hybrid, I notice the lower mileage because it takes longer to warm up the car.
Until it warms up it's getting the mileage of a regular ICE car.
Overall my mileage drops about 5% during the winter, even though I normally don't use the heater unless the wife is in the car :p
It also drops about the same during the hottest part of the summer due to using the air conditioner.
 

Wierdo

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It's not an accurate assessment, but it's not totally wrong. At extreme temperatures, where even regular cars need to be literally plugged in if you wanna start the engine the next day, the degradation of this level can be seen.

At more common levels - aka most parts of the US in winter, polar vortex over Chicago notwithstanding - most drivers report something closer to 20 percent, due to cold batteries and cabin warming, if they don't plug their EVs overnight.

This goes without saying, but cars in general don't like the extreme cold obviously, there are trade-offs regardless of type of vehicle, ICE or EV.

On a positive note, in such extreme weather the unplugged EV can still run, but likely at AAA's reported range and charge rate handicaps until warmed up. It can also affect regenerative braking so may need to use the brake pad more often instead of driving with a single pedal.

As the batteries warm up this issue goes away and the range capacity increases back to normal.

Just have to understand the technologies to best optimize your usage of them, that's all.

Some actual drivers can attest to this here if interested:
https://electrek.co/2019/02/07/study-electric-cars-lose-range-temperature-tesla-disputes/

Examples:
I don’t know about a 40% drop in range a 20 degrees Fahrenheit. I don’t remember experiencing that in any of my Tesla vehicles.

That said, I’ve certainly experienced a ~40% drop at -20 Celsius (-4 Fahrenheit).
41% is believable if you’re taking multiple short trips and letting the car get cold between them. It takes a lot of energy to warm up the battery and cabin each time.

But on a single, longer trip where you’ve pre-conditioned the vehicle before unplugging? No, range loss will not be anything like 41% at 20F.
I've driven my S70D for three years now i Norway, visiting our Telemark mountain cabin nearly every weekend in winter. This means that I have experienced quite a bit of winter driving, both short-range around Oslo and to and from that cabin.
Pure cold is really not a problem, the loss in range is _much_ more significant when the roads are covered in centimeters of wet snow/slush!
 
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bigdogchris

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And at one time people were happy when the horseless carriage failed. As a modern vehicle user, you should be thankful that people back then didn't listen.
 
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Use Case (Combustion Engine): You drive to work in the evening at 8pm prior to a rapid overnight decrease in temperatures. You curse, you forgot to fill your car with gas and you have only 30 miles of range, this is just prior to your 12 hour shift making sure the operators count the widgets properly . This should be OK, the gas station is only 2 blocks away. The starter battery is OK, haven't changed it in a couple years but if it doesn't start the engine in the frigid morning temperatures, you can ask some poor fool in the parking lot in the AM for a jump or someone in the security booth can jump you.

Use Case (Electric): You drive to work in the evening at 8pm prior to a rapid overnight decrease in temperatures. You curse, you forgot to charge your car with electricity and you have only 30 miles of range, this is just prior to your 12 hour shift making sure the operators count the widgets properly. That sucks, your home is 20 miles away and dread morning assuming the range of your car will have dropped significantly and have an anxious early morning watching the temperature drop from the 30s to the nearly 0F. You fret over the fact that maybe you can make it back home without using the heater and curse again for not bringing your gloves. Meanwhile, the guys in the maintenance department with the F250 Pickups laugh at you whenever you walk on the production floor because you already told them you may need help in the morning. Due to all the distraction, you are off on you final widget count and are reprimanded by chief been counter. You get to your car in the parking lot and out of rage kick the quarter panel with your company sanctioned steel toe boot with ankle protection and vow to never buy an EV again.
 
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I have a chevy bolt, a week or two ago I got to experience what - 27 Fahrenheit feels like and so did my bolt. It decided that it's range was going to be about 140 miles instead of the 240+ I see with no climate control. I have mentioned in other threads that there just isn't an efficient way to produce heat in an EV, think about how much current a hair dryer pulls(around 1.5kwh) and consider that even the highest range evs have battery packs that are only 60-100kw. When my car is idle normally it's draining about 0.5kwh, when that max defrost is going its more like 4-5kwh. Now add on that the battery packs have conditioning systems to heat/cool them to prolong their life and bam, there's your culprit.
 

griffinhart

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No shit.

Guess what.

Extreme cold significantly shortens the range of a traditional internal combustion powered vehicle as well.


Next up, AAA confirms water is wet.
I agree that it's no surprise that EV's take a major hit on range in cold weather. But, Internal Combustion Engines do not take a significant hit on mileage in the cold. Oil companies do change the formulation of gas in the winter vs summer that results different mileage (summer gas has more energy), but the difference is around 1.7% not 40 to 60%
 

Showbiz

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I agree that it's no surprise that EV's take a major hit on range in cold weather. But, Internal Combustion Engines do not take a significant hit on mileage in the cold. Oil companies do change the formulation of gas in the winter vs summer that results different mileage (summer gas has more energy), but the difference is around 1.7% not 40 to 60%
I'm no expert, but isn't it likely that such a small difference (1.7%) is simply due to the engine needing more time come to normal efficient operating temperature from a colder starting point? I know when I drive long distances in my car in the winter, the highway range is basically the same, or within a margin of error, and most likely could be attributed due to winds.
 

Darunion

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I mean when I fly my drone out in the cold, i haven't done calculations but its around half the amount of flight time as a nice warm day. I guess I just assumed the same would be true for cars. Yea this is for sure good knowledge for the general public though.
 

bartz118

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You dont but a battery does. And its the battery that matters. Chemistry ftw.
My response was also to the fact that he said the IC engines also take a significant hit in fuel mileage. And at 20F they do not. I do agree with you that 20F is a cold temp for a battery, but 20F isn't an extreme cold temp and is routinely a temperature in the winter for the upper area of the US.


It's not an accurate assessment, but it's not totally wrong. At extreme temperatures, where even regular cars need to be literally plugged in if you wanna start the engine the next day, the degradation of this level can be seen.
Even when it was -20F air temp, most people don't bother plugging in their gas ICE vehicles where I am from, let alone 20F.
 

collegeboy69us

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I'll see a spread of about 25% when it comes to EV range in my Volt (2017 Gen 2) summer here in TX - I'll see estimated range of 60 miles pure EV (even though it's officially rated for 53).... it was 28F this morning when I left work and I'll see something like 45miles range just using heated seats and wheel. Turn on electric heat if you aren't using the engine and watch that state of charge drop like a rock. *shrugs* that's just physics and chemistry in action. Granted I have onboard gas generator in my car so full range of the car even in winter is a little under 400 miles on a tank+charge.

I have my eye on a model 3 -- and even with my pretty big daily commute of 75 miles round trip... sucking down electrons for heat I'd have zero range anxiety.

the fact AAA paid someone for this "study" ... mind blowingly stupid.
 
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And at one time people were happy when the horseless carriage failed. As a modern vehicle user, you should be thankful that people back then didn't listen.
ive never understood this attitude, the futurist bias- the ultimate in monday morning quarterbacking. there are a million paths that history could have taken, why assume that embracing vehicles as we know them was the best one?
 

mullet

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20 million dollar triple DDD study showed swimming in a cold pool of water shrinks your penis by 50%.
 
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DeChache

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My gas powered car takes a 20-30% mileage hit in cold weather too. Combine it what actually have to use the AWD there is a big difference. I think both cars are showing around 14ish MPG right now since the cold snap and they are turbo 4's
 

focbde

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As others have alluded to, we can sum it up as:

Cold Weather Significantly Shortens Range of ALL cars.
 

PaulP

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My gas powered car takes a 20-30% mileage hit in cold weather too. Combine it what actually have to use the AWD there is a big difference. I think both cars are showing around 14ish MPG right now since the cold snap and they are turbo 4's
Most likely any noticeable decrease in the mileage of your ICE cars is due to road and traffic conditions, not the cold temperature. Plowing through snow takes more power (not to mention the use of AWD if you have it), but also slows down traffic speeds, increasing your drive time. I defy you to even measure the difference at 20F on dry clear roads.
 

PaulP

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As others have alluded to, we can sum it up as:

Cold Weather Significantly Shortens Range of ALL cars.
Not true. The data is absolutely clear: temperature alone has very little impact on ICE engine mileage. This is due to the fact that combustion isn't affected, modern engine computers adjust fuel mixture of the temperature of the incoming air, and the cabin is heated using waste heat from the engine. In EVs, the batteries have a lower capacity when they are cold, and the cabin must be heated using electricity which could otherwise be used for propulsion.
 

DeChache

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Most likely any noticeable decrease in the mileage of your ICE cars is due to road and traffic conditions, not the cold temperature. Plowing through snow takes more power (not to mention the use of AWD if you have it), but also slows down traffic speeds, increasing your drive time. I defy you to even measure the difference at 20F on dry clear roads.

Clear roads just cold. They run crazy rich until they start to warm up. Yes long trips show less of a decrease but average week there is a pretty drastic change vs 30ishF and above.

Its not uncommon around here to see cars puff a bit of black smoke when they start because of the amount of fuel dumped into them to make them start like its warm out. I actually think my old cars handled they cold better.

At least in the midwest the fuel is also dirtier and less power dense meaning more is used...
 

Zarathustra[H]

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Not true. The data is absolutely clear: temperature alone has very little impact on ICE engine mileage. This is due to the fact that combustion isn't affected, modern engine computers adjust fuel mixture of the temperature of the incoming air, and the cabin is heated using waste heat from the engine. In EVs, the batteries have a lower capacity when they are cold, and the cabin must be heated using electricity which could otherwise be used for propulsion.
Lol, no. These are huge reductions in range at 20 degrees F, an ICE won't even notice that.

This is completely wrong. For long trips when the engine has a chance to warm up, sure. Batteries also perform better once they have warmed up.

But it can take a half an hour of driving at 20F for most ICE engines to reach their ideal operating temperature.

Most people drive their cars very short trips though (to the grocery store and back, drop off the kids at school, etc. etc.) and on these the impact at 20F can be over 20% on an ICE engine.


The biggest difference here is that electrical vehicles cannot rely on waste engine heat to heat the cabin, as their motors are so much more efficient, so they need to use battery power to generate heat, or you are driving in the cold.

Everyone buying an electric vehicle should know this.
 

HeadRusch

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Up until this very thread, I had not considered the rather obvious fubar for those with battery powered vehicles in northern latitudes: HOw the hell do these cars make HEAT? Internal Combustion? I get it. Having to heat elements using battery power? Damn that's got to be incredibly inefficient........suck those batteries dry.
 
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PaulP

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Clear roads just cold. They run crazy rich until they start to warm up. Yes long trips show less of a decrease but average week there is a pretty drastic change vs 30ishF and above.

Its not uncommon around here to see cars puff a bit of black smoke when they start because of the amount of fuel dumped into them to make them start like its warm out. I actually think my old cars handled they cold better.

At least in the midwest the fuel is also dirtier and less power dense meaning more is used...
I live in Minnesota. At 20F my car only takes about 5 minutes to come up to operating temperature. On my 35 minute daily commute I have not noticed any difference in mileage at that temperature. At -20F it knocks about 5-10% off, mainly because I use the remote starter at work and warm it up for 10 minutes before I leave. But that's still pretty reasonable. I'd like to see what happens to an EV's range at -20F. I'm guessing it's pretty bad since battery capacity loss due to temperature is logarithmic, not linear.
 

PaulP

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This is completely wrong. For long trips when the engine has a chance to warm up, sure. Batteries also perform better once they have warmed up.

But it can take a half an hour of driving at 20F for most ICE engines to reach their ideal operating temperature.

Most people drive their cars very short trips though (to the grocery store and back, drop off the kids at school, etc. etc.) and on these the impact at 20F can be over 20% on an ICE engine.


The biggest difference here is that electrical vehicles cannot rely on waste engine heat to heat the cabin, as their motors are so much more efficient, so they need to use battery power to generate heat, or you are driving in the cold.

Everyone buying an electric vehicle should know this.
Half an hour at 20F? What kind of vehicle are you driving? I have an actual temperature gauge in my Jeep, and at 20F it takes about 10 minutes to get up to full operating temperature; it gets to 100F in just a few minutes, at which point the engine is running at nearly peak efficiency. I guess if you live in the city and make a lot of short trips, then you will notice the difference more, but even a 20% drop in mileage is not "significant".
 
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