AAA: Icy Temperatures Cut Electric Vehicle Range Nearly In Half

In freezing temperatures, electric vehicle owners may experience a decrease in driving range, which is compounded by the use of the vehicle’s interior climate control, according to new research from AAA.

AAA warns that — when temperatures drop to 20°F and the HVAC system is used to heat the inside of the vehicle — the average driving range is decreased by 41 percent. So, for every 100 miles of combined urban/highway driving, the range at 20°F is reduced to 59 miles.

When colder temperatures hit, AAA advises electric vehicle owners to be aware of a reduction in range and the need to charge more often to minimize the chance of being stranded by a dead battery.

Cold weather is not the only factor that can influence driving range. AAA’s research shows that — when outside temperatures heat up to 95°F and air-conditioning is used inside the vehicle — driving range decreases by 17 percent. The motoring club warns that, while extreme temperatures play a role in diminishing driving range, it’s the use of HVAC in these conditions that has the greatest effect.

AAA says it 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. Driving conditions were simulated using a dynamometer in a closed testing cell where ambient temperature could be controlled. To determine the effects on driving range, scenarios for cold and hot weather conditions — both when using HVAC and not — were compared to those of driving with an outside temperature of 75°F.