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Driving Range of Electric Cars Severely Affected by Temperature

This is another bad news for electric car owners and those who are considering a purchase of electric or hybrid cars in the near future.

According to auto club AAA, the range of electric vehicles can be severely reduced by extreme temperature outside: up to 57%.  So that doesn't apply to everyone

The latest research conducted by the AAA Automotive Research Center in Southern California found that the average range of an electric car dropped 57%  with outside temperature at 20 degrees Fahrenheit, and by 33% in 95 degrees weather.

Most people do know that battery performance is somehow linked to the temperature.  People have seen it with smartphone and iPods for many years.  But no one probably suspected that the degradation is at such a high level.

Even the director of automotive engineering at AAA felt the same way, "We expected degradation in the range of vehicles in both cold and hot climates, but we did not expect the degradation we saw."

The test was done using three fully-electric vehicles – a 2013 Nissan Leaf, a 2012 Mitsubishi iMIEV and a 2014 Ford Focus Electric Vehicle – in cold, moderate and hot weather.

The driving simulation was done carefully to mimic a real life scenario as much as possible; driving in the city's stop-and-go traffic between December and January, after fully charging the vehicles each time.  Testing in a climate-controlled room on a dynometer was added in as well.

Ironically two of the vehicles, the Mitsubishi and the Ford, features battery temperature management system, but it didn't help at all. The reason for that was simple the systems had to withdraw energy from the same energy source, battery, in order to cool or warm the battery.  It pretty much defeats the purpose of having such system in place unless it was meant for preventing overheating and freezing of the battery for super extreme weather conditions.

And here is what it comes down to if you must know how bad the range of these electric cars are at cold temperature. The average range for the three cars tested was 105 miles at 75 degrees Fahrenheit. That already seems pretty low but adequate if you have short commute to work.  With the temperature at 20 degrees that number dropped to 43 miles.

Brannon said. "For most Americans, where a round-trip commute is less than 40 miles, the range of the vehicle will not be a problem," he said.  I'm in complete disagreement with that statement.  What if you need to run an unplanned errand during lunch time or you have to drive to a client site for a meeting.  There are thousands of other reasons to be stressed over that limited range.  And that's only if you remember to fully charge the car to 100% before the morning commute.

Some of AAA's recommendations include: storing the electric car in a garage; monitoring recharge times in colder weather; preheating or cooling the car while it's plugged in to reduce battery drain, and using electric seat heaters to keep warm.  Electric cars require way more TLC than gasoline powered cars, it seems, and they are just not ready for prime time yet.

Driving Range of Electric Cars Severely Affected by Temperature Reviewed by Brandon on 1:47 AM Rating: 5

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