Electric cars being driven in cold weather could suffer a significant drop in driving range by as much as 41 percent, research by the non-profit American Automobile Association (AAA) has revealed.
New research from AAA reveals that when the mercury dips to 20°F (-6.67 Celsius) and the car’s HVAC system is used to heat the vehicle’s interior, the average driving range falls by 41 percent.
This means for every 1oo miles (160 kilometres) of combined urban/highway driving, the electric car’s range at 20 F (-6.67 C) would be reduced to 59 miles (95 km).
“When colder temperatures hit, AAA urges electric vehicle owners to be aware of a reduction in range and the need to charge more often to minimise the chance of being stranded by a dead battery,” AAA said in a press statement.
But cold weather is not the only factor that can influence driving range.
More relatable to Singapore’s environment is AAA’s other research in hot climes.
It found that when outside temperatures heat up to around 35 C and air-conditioning is used inside the vehicle, driving range decreases by 17 percent – conditions very similar to Singapore.
“Extreme temperatures certainly play a role in diminishing driving range, but the use of HVAC in these conditions – particularly the heat – has by far the greatest effect,” AAA said.
An electric vehicle with a compromised driving range will require charging more often, which increases the cost to operate the vehicle.
AAA’s study found that the use of heat in -6.67 C temperature adds almost US$25 more for every 1,000 miles (1609 km) when compared to the cost of combined urban and highway driving at a comparatively toasty 75 F (24 C).
AAA tested five electric vehicles, all with a minimum EPA estimated driving range of 100 miles, in partnership with the Automotive Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center.
Real-world driving conditions were simulated using a dynamometer in a closed testing cell where ambient temperature could be closely controlled.
“Automakers are continually making advances to improve range, but with this information, drivers will be more aware of the impacts varying weather conditions can have on their electric vehicles,” said Megan McKernan, manager of Automotive Research Center.