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Electric Car Performance in Cold Weather

Most of the United States experienced a colder winter than usual in 2023, and summer temperatures are predicted to be generally warmer than average. Owners of electric cars may observe a decrease in the range of their vehicles due to these weather changes, especially in the cold. This is because cold weather may greatly impact how well electric car batteries perform. 


The ability of the battery to hold a charge affects electric car performance in cold weather. In cold weather, the charge decreases because the chemical processes inside the battery that generate electricity become less efficient. An electric car may only travel two-thirds or half the distance it would in warm weather using the same amount of energy in cold weather.


The high-capacity lithium-ion batteries in an EV have a temperature range in which they work most effective. With the temperature change a shrink in reaction rates inside battery cells will occur.  


According to a 2019 study by the American Automobile Association (AAA), electric cars typically lose 41% of their range when the temperature drops below 20°F. This is because there is less energy available to power the car because the battery is less effective at converting its stored energy into power. 


Similarly, at high temperatures, cooling mechanisms must be activated to prevent the battery from overheating. This also devours more energy, effectively reducing driving range. 


Ultimately, cold weather can significantly reduce the range of electric vehicles due to the reduced efficiency of the battery and heating system. Nonetheless, as electric vehicle technology advances, we can expect improvements in battery performance to help mitigate these effects. 


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