AAA: EV battery range cut by more than half in cold weather

AAA: EV battery range cut by more than half in cold weather
April 02, 2014 | posted by The Institute


By: Douglas Newcomb

When shopping for an electric vehicle, battery range is one of the most important considerations. But while actual mileage may vary depending on driving style, temperature affects the range of an EV much more than it would a traditional gasoline-powered vehicle.

According to recent research from the auto club AAA, EV range can be reduced by as much as 57 percent by the outside temperature. AAA’s Automotive Research Center in Southern California conducted tests to measure the driving range of three EVs -- a 2013 Nissan LEAF, a 2014 Ford Focus Electric and a 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV -- in cold, moderate and hot weather.

Conducted between December 2013 and January 2014, each fully charged EV was operated on a dynamometer in a climate-controlled room until the battery was fully depleted. The entire driving cycle for each EV was completed in a moderate, hot and cold climate following standard Environmental Protection Agency test procedures for city driving.

The result was that cold weather can cut an EV's range by more than half.

The AAA tests revealed that while the average battery range for all three EVs was 105 miles at 75 degrees Fahrenheit, this dropped to 43 miles when the outside temperature was 20 degrees. AAA found that a warmer temperature has less effect on battery range, but still lowered it to an average of 69 miles on a full charge at 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

“Electric motors provide smooth operation, strong acceleration, require less maintenance than internal combustion engines, and for many motorists offer a cost effective option,” John Nielsen, managing director or AAA automotive engineering and repair, said in a statement. “However, EV drivers need to carefully monitor driving range in hot and cold weather."

AAA noted that EV drivers “need to plan carefully in hot and cold weather” and added that it offers mapping tools such as its TripTik Travel Planner that can help EV owners find charging stations along a route.