All electric vehicles experience some loss of range in cold weather, as cold temperatures slow down the chemical processes in the batteries, which must also spend energy heating the car's interior. Nevertheless, Tesla cars performed at their best, showing the smallest loss of range among all the cars tested.
A decrease in the range of vehicles in cold weather is normal. Electric vehicle owners in colder climates should adjust their daily driving and charging during the winter months. However, this phenomenon is temporary and as soon as the weather is warmer, the range of electric vehicles returns to their previous values, explains Recurrent, who conducted a test of electric vehicles in winter conditions.
The loss of range in winter is due to chemical and mechanical reasons. Chemical and physical reactions in the battery are slower at low temperatures, which reduces the power of electric vehicles. Low temperatures suppress chemical reactions and act as resistance to slow down physical processes.
The mechanical reason is that the interior of the car needs heating in winter. Although electric vehicles have a much more efficient motor, they do not generate as much heat as an internal combustion engine (ICE). In cold weather, the available heat from the motor is directed to heat the battery itself, which means a power source is required to heat the interior. Interior heaters are usually powered by a high-voltage battery, which reduces the amount of battery power left for driving.
Recurrent compared 13 popular electric vehicle models to show the loss of range in various driving conditions. The chart below includes aggregated and anonymous data for 7,000 vehicles in the Recurrent community from across the United States.
According to the data presented in the chart, we can see that Tesla is the only manufacturer with a vehicle—Model X 75D—that did not have a loss of range at low temperatures. The other cars of the company, Model 3 Long Range and Model Y Long Range, show only a 1% loss in range. Model S P100D shows a 4% loss of range. Jaguar E-Peace also showed good results, losing only 3% of its range.
The worst results were shown by the Chevy Bolt and Chevy Volt, which lost 32% and 31% of the range, respectively. This is a very serious loss of range that can create significant problems for owners and make it difficult to use the vehicle during the cold season. The Ford Mustang Mach-E also did not perform well, finishing only third from the bottom of the list; the car loses a whopping 28% of its range, which should be taken into account by consumers living in colder regions before purchasing it. German BMW i3 and VW e-Golf are also at the bottom of the list, losing 24% and 23% of range respectively.
A more or less good result was also demonstrated by the Audi e-trone with an 8% loss of range. While this calls for adjustments to day-to-day charging and driving, it must be admitted that they will not be as significant as in others vehicles. Nissan Leaf showed a 14% loss of range and Hyundai Kona, 19%. This can have a significant impact on their owners' driving habits during the winter months, especially given the fact these cars have a lower range to begin with.
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About the Author
Eva Fox joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover breaking news as an automotive journalist. The main topics that she covers are clean energy and electric vehicles. As a journalist, Eva is specialized in Tesla and topics related to the work and development of the company.