Electric Vehicle Range Varies Greatly in Adverse Weather Conditions

May 14, 2014
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Electric Vehicle RangeElectric vehicle range can vary greatly due to a number of factors, most notably the weather. While a recent Los Angeles Times article claims electric vehicle (EV) production will be up 67% in 2014 globally when compared to 2013, owners of these vehicles should know both their attributes and limitations.

The AAA Automotive Research Center recently showed some “cold, hard facts” about the effects of weather on electric vehicle range. Specifically, their range can be negatively affected by as much as 57 percent based on the outside temperatures. 

Electric Vehicle Range Testing Data

The electric vehicle range tests were conducted on three vehicles, the 2013 Nissan Leaf, the 2012 Mitsubishi iMiEV, and the electric version of the 2014 Ford Focus.

Comfortable temperatures: The average EV battery range at 75-degree Fahrenheit was 105 miles.

Colder temperatures: The average EV battery range declined an amazing 57 percent – to just 43 miles – when the temperatures held steady at 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

Warmer temperatures: The average EV battery range declined significantly to just 69 miles when the temperature was 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

To ensure that everything was in a controlled environment, the AAA Research Center followed the identical drive cycles found on the window stickers of each electric vehicle. The batteries were then fully charged, and the vehicles were driven on a dynamometer, a machine with rollers, in climate-controlled rooms until the battery power in each vehicle was completely exhausted. These electric vehicle range tests were performed between December 2013 and January 2014.

The Electric Vehicle Range Test Takeaway

What can be taken away from this? Similar to how a driver of a “regular car” learns how much fuel he/she has in the tank when the gas warning light comes on, the driver of an EV should learn the approximate distance their cars can travel in any given temperature.

Fortunately, even during the most-affected times the 43-mile range is still within the daily range of most drivers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) reports that nearly 70 percent of United States commuters travel 30 miles or less to work.

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