Kyle Johnson
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AAA Automotive Research Center: Weather Can Cut EV Range 57%

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AAA Automotive Research Center

EVs, such as the Nissan LEAF (seen here), can suffer a nearly 60 percent driving range drop when subjected to extreme temperatures, the AAA Automotive Research Center said Thursday.

The AAA Automotive Research Center has released results of a study that show electric vehicle range can be adversely affected by extreme weather conditions. According to the findings, EV range can be cut by an average of 57 percent depending on temperature.

In the AAA’s simulations, three electric vehicles were tested in cold, fair, and hot conditions and in stop-and-go situations. The average driving range of the vehicles fluctuated considerably depending on the temperature.

At temperatures of 75°F, the three vehicles averaged a range of 105 miles. When the temperature was reduced to 20°F, the vehicles’ capabilities plummeted to 43 miles—a staggering 57 percent loss of performance.

When temperatures were raised to 95°F, the average dropped by to 69 miles. Despite not being as heavily impacted by hotter temperatures, this still amounts to a driving range loss of more than one-third.

“Electric motors provide smooth operation, strong acceleration, require less maintenance than internal combustion engines, and for many motorists offer a cost effective option,” said John Nielsen, managing director, AAA Automotive Engineering and Repair, in a press release. “However, EV drivers need to carefully monitor driving range in hot and cold weather.”

What this study indicates is that EVs are still most viable in markets where the weather tends to stay reasonably warm. But what of the weather’s affect on gasoline-powered vehicles? The AAA Automotive Research Center Study doesn’t cover that much, but Auto Blog Green’s Sebastian Blanco conducted a study of his own with his Honda Fit and found that there is a roughly 45 mile-per-tank difference between driving in the winter and in the summer. This includes driving while utilizing hypermiling techniques such as coasting to stops in neutral, accelerating more slowly, and reducing idling times.

In any case, it’s clear that extreme weather conditions impact the amount of driving you’ll be able to do regardless of the kind of vehicle you drive. Would this information make it less likely that you would consider buying an EV in the near future? Leave a comment and offer your take.