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Electric cars can lose as much as half of their range in extreme cold weather

By Kenny Yeo - on 12 Feb 2019, 9:45am

Electric cars can lose as much as half of their range in extreme cold weather

(Image source: Tesla Owners Group)

Owners of electric cars are reporting drastically reduced range in extremely cold weather.

During the recent cold snap that affected parts of the US, owners of electric cars saw their range dip by as much as 40%.

Timothy Grewe, the chief engineer at the General Motors electric propulsion lab, said that 270 miles is the norm on a nice spring day (21°C). But as temperatures went under -20°C during the polar vortex, he reported a range of just 170 miles. That's a reduction of nearly 40%.

Henry Payne, an automotive reviewer for The Detroit News and an owner of a Tesla Model 3, said that his Model 3 lost 50% of its range during the polar vortex.

This problem is compounded when drivers turn up the heat in their cars. The heater can consume as much as 5kWh of power. And then there are the other things that need electricity like headlights, seat warmers, and window defroster. Add this all up and you can see why an electric car's range can start to fall drastically.

Of course, this isn't anything new to anyone who lives in an area that experiences four distinct seasons. Batteries hate the cold and it isn't only electric cars that are affected.

Cameras and even phones have significantly shorter batteries lives during winter. This explains why you sometimes see photography enthusiasts furiously rubbing their batteries in the cold.

Source: CNBC