Batteries in electric cars drain faster when it’s cold, but not so fast that it should significantly affect most everyday drivers.
have electric vehicle sales skyrocketed in 2022meaning for many car owners this will be their first winter operating a fully battery powered vehicle.
If you’ve ever used a smartphone outside in the winter, you may have noticed that the battery drains faster in very cold weather. But does that also apply to the batteries that power electric cars?
VERIFY viewer Marsha texted us asking if it’s true that electric vehicles can lose a significant chunk of their typical range, or distance traveled, before the battery dies in the winter.
Do electric vehicles lose range when it’s cold?
Yes, electric vehicles lose range in cold weather.
WHAT WE FOUND
Several studies have been conducted examining the range of electric vehicles in cold weather without charging. All studies found that the distance decreases with decreasing temperatures.
Tests conducted by AAA in 2019 In temperatures of 20 degrees Fahrenheit, cars averaged just 59 percent of their official range.
Similar tests were recently conducted by consumer reports showed that cold-weather range has improved over the years, but still found that “cold weather reduces about 25 percent of range at a speed of 70 miles per hour compared to the same mild-weather conditions.” For these tests, cold days averaged 16°F and mild days averaged 65°F.
Experts told VERIFY the range reduction isn’t so much that it should pose a problem for most commuters – it should only affect long-distance journeys.
“It won’t be a problem with your daily commute,” said Gil Tal, director of the Research center for plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles at UC Davis. “It really is when you drive all day from morning to night. You might have one charging stop in the summer and two in the winter.”
“But most of us do 40 miles, 50 miles, 60 miles a day,” he said. “[So] it doesn’t matter for a 300-mile car.”
Much of the loss comes from the need to keep the rider comfortable. In gas-powered cars, heat is generated naturally by burning fuel. With electric cars, however, the heat has to be generated by the battery itself.
“Electric cars are much more efficient, [since] Most of the energy is used to move the car and there isn’t as much excess heat,” Tal said. “So if we have to heat the cabin we’re sitting in, we actually have to use more energy. And that reduces the range of the car.”
One of the reasons the cold weather range has improved over the years is the development of more efficient cabin heating systems in newer models.
“In the early electric cars, it was almost like a space heater that they put in there and it used tons of energy,” Tal said. “In modern electric cars we use a heat pump. It’s more efficient. And we use seat heaters and steering wheel heaters so you don’t have to heat the whole car so much.”
But not only heating systems can put a strain on batteries. The cold weather alone drains the performance of the batteries. Ultimately, because batteries use chemical reactions to create electricity, and reactions occur more slowly in cold temperatures, there is a limit to how much energy you can extract from a battery during the winter.
“Lithium-ion batteries perform poorly in cold temperatures,” said Mark Esahni, who leads that Laboratory for power electronics and motor drives at Texas A&M. “The amount of energy you can find in them is reduced. It’s like putting money in the bank and when you cash in money you have access to a fraction of that money.”
Want something VERIFIED?
https://www.kvue.com/article/news/verify/technology-verify/electric-vehicle-batteries-lose-range-in-cold-weather/536-8c3491bd-88eb-4352-a332-af5874959716 EV batteries take longer to charge and lose range in winter