NewsCovering Colorado


AAA study: Electric vehicles range cut by 41 percent in cold temperatures

Posted at 11:25 AM, Feb 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-18 17:07:31-05
Electric vehicle testing
Photo courtesy of AAA

DENVER – Researchers with the American Automobile Association (AAA) found electric vehicles simply cannot drive as far in cold temperatures when drivers use the heater.

The study found that when it’s 20° outside the vehicle and when the heater is on, 100 miles of EV range is shortened to 59 miles. The researchers tested a 2018 BMW i3s, 2018 Chevrolet Bolt, 2018 Nissan Leaf, 2017 Tesla Model S 75D and a 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf in an environment where temperatures could be controlled. AAA estimated that it would cost an extra $25 for every 1,000 miles driven with an electric vehicle in 20° temperatures.

“Colorado isn’t California – our temperatures fluctuate here, and often dramatically. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy an electric car, it just means you should understand their limitations when cold weather comes around,” AAA Colorado spokesperson Skyler McKinley said in a news release.

In addition to cold weather performance, when AAA tested the cars at 95°, they found that range decreased by 17 percent with the air conditioner on. The temperature extremes were compared to the vehicles in 75°conditions. Extreme temperatures certainly play a role in diminishing driving range, but the use of the vehicle’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system in these conditions — particularly the heat — has by far the greatest effect.

The study determined that the car’s heater and air conditioning systems were mostly to blame for the reduction in range.

“The good news is that automakers are continually making advances to improve range. For now, though, electric vehicle drivers have a responsibility to plan ahead during both cold and hot weather,” McKinley said.

AAA suggests that electric vehicle owners should pre-heat or cool their cars while it is still connected to the charger, and park inside a garage to help regulate outside temperature. Most of all, AAA encouraged drivers to plan ahead by locating charging stations along a route, checking the forecast, and being sure to fully charge the vehicle ahead of time.

CLICK HERE to read the full study.