Does Driving Range Decrease in Cold Weather?
Written by Larry Thompson
The short answer
EV batteries operate and charge most efficiently when the battery and ambient temperatures are about 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
According to a 2019 AAA study* driving when ambient temperatures are very cold (e.g. 20 degrees Fahrenheit) can reduce driving by as much as 41%, especially when using the cabin heater. Fortunately, we don’t have 20-degree temperatures in Connecticut very often and there are simple things you can do to mitigate possible range reduction such as:
1) Heat or cool your vehicle while it’s still connected to the Level 2 charger. Most EV’s today have a phone app which allows you to remotely control the heating and cooling system. Turn the heat or cooling on before you get in the car and you’ll have a nice comfortable car without reducing the driving range.
2) The cabin heater is energy-intensive so many EV owners will use the seat heaters and supplement the heat as necessary with the cabin heater.
3) Driving even 10mph slower than normal may significantly alleviate any range reduction due to cold weather and actually in any weather.
4) Underinflated tires reduce the driving range in all temperature conditions. In cold weather, tires can lose up to 1-2psi for every 10-degree drop in temperature.
Also, note cold batteries cannot accept as much energy or as quickly as warm batteries. Therefore you may experience a reduction in the regenerative braking capability in your EV during that state.