Extreme weather challenge for electric vehicles

Vehicles in snowy weatherAs more affordable and longer-range electric cars hit the market, the long-predicted shift to battery-powered transportation seems poised to actually happen. But a serious challenge remains: battery-sucking cold weather.

New research from AAA reveals that when the mercury dips to 20 degrees Fahrenheit, the average driving range of an electric car decreases by 41 percent. When colder temperatures hit, EV owners have the same instinct as their internal combustion engine-driving brethren, which is to crank up the heat as high as it will go. This puts a serious strain on an EV’s battery, reducing the overall range and increasing the need to charge more often to minimize the chance of being stranded by a dead battery.

“The appeal of electric vehicles continues to grow since a greater variety of designs and options with increased range have come onto the market,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations, in a statement. “As long as drivers understand that there are limitations when operating electric vehicles in more extreme climates, they are less likely to be caught off guard by an unexpected drop in driving range.”

EV owners discovered this during the recent cold snap that hit central US and Canada. As temperatures plunged, owners of Chevy Bolts and Tesla Model 3s told CNBC they were seeing at most 50 percent less range in their vehicles.

EV manufacturers will have to find a way to communicate the effects of extreme weather to customer as they push to increase their sales market. In the meantime, owners can take some steps to help mitigate the effect of extreme heat and cold on their vehicles, AAA says. Take some time to pre-heat or pre-cool the car while its still hooked up to a charger. And plan ahead for frequent stops to charge if you’re going on a longer trip, so you don’t get caught on the side of the road with a dead battery.

Source: The Verge

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