On the Site:

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Here’s why electric cars don’t go as far in the cold

Jan 16, 2024, 12:12 PM

FILE: An electric car charges at a mall parking lot on June 27, 2022 in Corte Madera, California. T...

FILE: An electric car charges at a mall parking lot on June 27, 2022 in Corte Madera, California. The average price for a new electric car has surged 22 percent in the past year as automakers like Tesla, GM and Ford seek to recoup commodity and logistics costs. (Justin Sullivan, Getty Images)

(Justin Sullivan, Getty Images)

(CNN)With temperatures bottoming out across the country, electric vehicle drivers are probably noticing their driving range plummeting. Here’s why it keeps happening – and there’s more to it than you might think.

Tests by the consumer advocacy group Consumer Reports showed that EV driving range dropped by about 25% in highway cruising, on average, in sub-freezing weather, compared to days with warmer outside temperatures.

There are two main reasons for the drop in driving range, or how far the car can go before recharging: The battery, and the driver. Both human beings and EV batteries work best within a similar temperature range, which is roughly in the mid-60s degree to mid-70s Fahrenheit, said Andy Garberson, head of marketing for EV battery research company Recurrent.

Batteries operate through chemical reactions with electrons and ions moving from one side of the battery to the other. When it gets too cold, all sorts of chemical reactions slow down, including those taking place in a battery. That means driving range is reduced.

But human beings also don’t function so well in the cold. When we’re driving on a cold day, we need to turn up the heat. That’s actually a much bigger factor in reducing EV range than the effect of temperature on the battery itself, said Garberson.

In a gasoline-powered car, turning on the heater hardly impacts fuel economy at all. That’s because gas engines make lots of heat all the time, in summer and winter. In fact, when your car burns gasoline to drive, more of the energy gets turned into waste heat than motion. Routing some of extra that heat into the cabin to keep occupants warm is no trouble at all.

Electric motors and batteries, on the other hand, produce very little waste heat. That’s part of the reason why they’re so efficient, as almost all the energy from the batteries is used for driving. But when the cabin needs heating, the energy used for that gets subtracted from the miles that can be driven. That means driving range can drop considerably.

In Consumer Reports’ EV tests, taking lots of short trips made things substantially worse. Every time the vehicle stopped and the cabin cooled down it had be reheated again when the vehicle started, sapping more energy, and doubling the amount of range lost.

Fortunately, most newer EV models have very efficient heat pump heating systems that help minimize the impact. But even those systems have their limits, and don’t work well when temperatures drop below about 14 degrees Fahrenheit, said Garberson.

“They’re considerably more efficient for heating, whether it’s your house or your water heater or your car, so you’re just drawing less energy to heat your cabin,” he said.

Still, heating the cabin causes substantial range losses, he said.

EV charging times are longer when the temperature is cold. Charging, just like discharging –or powering the car – is a chemical reaction that’s slowed down when temperatures drop. In fact, some electric vehicles will greatly slow down their maximum fast charging in very cold weather to prevent battery damage.

Fortunately, most newer EVs have sophisticated temperature management systems that work to keep the battery pack close to its ideal temperature, said Garberson. If a driver puts an EV fast charger as their destination in the navigation system, the car will prepare itself.

“If you’re in cold weather, it’s actually going to activate the thermal management to heat up that battery,” he said. “And so the goal would be by the time you get to the charger, the battery is warm enough that it doesn’t matter what the temperature is outside.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Science & Technology

Olympians have already raced in the sneaker, and more are expected to wear them during the Games. (...

Leah Dolan, CNN

Marathon-winning ‘spray-on’ running shoes could shake up Olympics

Swiss sportswear brand On is the latest company to embrace advanced “spray-on” materials with a “revolutionary” robot-made sneaker it believes can improve performance at this month’s Olympics.

15 hours ago

FILE - An Amazon Prime cardboard shipping box label is seen on March 17, 2023, in East Derry, N.H. ...

Wyatte Grantham-Philips and Haleluya Hadero, AP Business Writers

Amazon Prime Day is a big event for scams, experts warn

Amazon Prime Day is here, and experts are reminding consumers to be wary of scams during the two-day sale event.

2 days ago

FILE: The AT&T logo outside of AT&T corporate headquarters on March 13, 2020, in Dallas, Texas. (Ph...

Michelle Chapman, AP Business Writer

Data of nearly all AT&T customers downloaded to third-party platform in a 2022 security breach

The data of nearly all AT&T customers was downloaded to a third-party platform in a 2022 security breach, the company said Friday.

6 days ago

CORTE MADERA, CALIFORNIA - JULY 02: In an aerial view, a Caltrans changeable message sign on Highwa...

Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer

June sizzles to 13th straight monthly heat record. String may end soon, but dangerous heat won’t

Earth's more than year-long streak of record-shattering hot months kept on simmering through June, according to the European climate service Copernicus.

10 days ago

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 24: A NASA graphic is seen inside the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility during a ...

Carlysle Price

Crew of NASA’s earthbound simulated Mars habitat emerge after a year

The crew of a NASA mission to Mars emerged from their craft after a yearlong voyage that never left Earth.

11 days ago

Crews at Millcreek Common preparing light show drones for the city's Fourth of July celebration on ...

Brian Carlson

Millcreek prepping drones for its Independence Day spectacular

For the second year in a row, Millcreek is celebrating the Fourth of July with a drone light show instead of the typical fireworks, and it's not the only city doing so.

14 days ago

Sponsored Articles

young male technician is repairing a printer at office...

Les Olson

Unraveling the dilemma between leasing and buying office technology

Carefully weigh these pros and cons to make an informed decision that best suits your business growth and day-to-day operation. 

A kitchen in a modern farmhouse....

Lighting Design

A room-by-room lighting guide for your home

Bookmark this room-by-room lighting guide whenever you decide to upgrade your lighting or style a new home.

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Here’s why electric cars don’t go as far in the cold