AAA Shows EV-Range Reduction in Cold and Hot Weather

Operating an electric vehicle in cold weather can reduce driving range by more than 40%, according to AAA.

The U.S. auto club tested five 2017 and 2018-model EVs (BMW i3, Chevrolet Bolt, Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model S 75D and Volkswagen e-Golf) on a dynamometer in a climate-controlled cell. All of the vehicles have an Environmental Protection Agency rating of at least 100 miles per charge.

During tests at 20°F without the heater turned on, the average driving range fell by 12% vs. baseline ranges when operating at 75°F. With the heater turned on, the range dropped by 41%, AAA says.

High temperatures also sapped ranges, but by far less than with cold weather. Ranges slipped an average of 4% when operating in 95°F weather without the use of air conditioning, and it fell 17% when the cabin was cooled.

The depleted range in cold weather with the heater on increases operating costs by more than $24 for every 1,000 miles, according to AAA. Costs jump about $8/1,000 miles with the air conditioning on at outside temperatures of 95°.

Operating in more extreme cold or heat would further reduce range, the authors note. They suggest heating or cooling the cabin while the vehicle is plugged into a charger to help counter the effects of the weather.