HomeBusinessCold temperatures cut battery range of electric cars by a FIFTH

Cold temperatures cut battery range of electric cars by a FIFTH


Winter woes for electric car owners: Colder temperatures can reduce the driving range of battery vehicles by more than a FIFTH

  • What Car? and dedicated EV site Move Electric conducted ‘winter range tests’
  • The findings were compared to tests on the same cars during summer months
  • It found that an £84k Porsche EV’s battery range fell by 20.1% in cold conditions
  • The study found that Britons need to specify EVs to come with ‘heat pumps’
  • They reduce strain on the batteries by drawing excess heat from the drivetrain and distributing it around the interior of the car 

Colder temperatures can drastically reduce the range of an electric car, according to new research.

Battery models without a heat pump are significantly impacted by winter climates and in some cases cuts range by more than 20 per cent.  

‘Winter range tests’ conducted by one consumer title found that an £84,000 Porsche Taycan 4S managed 224 miles on a full charge. That’s a 20.1 per cent drop on the 281 miles that the same model achieved when tested during the summer. 

However, the study said the issue can be resolved with the addition of one component manufacturers are offering as an optional extra… a heat pump.

How much can colder conditions impact the battery range of electric cars? A new study has revealed all by comparing real-world measurements taken in the winter and the summer

Sister consumer websites What Car? and Move Electric put a selection of electric vehicles (EVs) through real-world winter range test.

They then compared the results with ideal specification models tested last summer to see how lower temperatures affect electric car battery efficiency. 

Other models retested included the Ford Mustang Mach-E Extended Range RWD, which is priced from £47,580. Its range in the latter assessment fell by 18 per cent.

The £34,850 Skoda Enyaq iV 60’s range dropped by 15.7 per cent in the colder conditions while the tiny Fiat 500 – models fitted with the bigger 42kWh battery that cost from £28,835 – saw range decline by 15.2 per cent.

WINTER VS SUMMER RANGE TEST RESULTS 
Model Variant Usable battery size Summer range Winter range Shortfall
Porsche Taycan 4S Performance Battery Plus 83.7kWh 281 miles 224 miles 20.1%
Ford Mustang Mach-E Extended Range RWD 88.0kWh 302 miles 247 miles 18.0%
Skoda Enyaq iV 60 58.0kWh 207 miles 174 miles 15.7%
Fiat 500 42kWh Icon 7.3kWh 140 miles 118 miles 15.2%
Source: What Car? and Move Electric 
'Winter range tests' conducted on an £84k Porsche Taycan 4S managed 224 miles on a full charge. That¿s a 20.1% drop on the 281 miles that the same model achieved in the summer

‘Winter range tests’ conducted on an £84k Porsche Taycan 4S managed 224 miles on a full charge. That’s a 20.1% drop on the 281 miles that the same model achieved in the summer

The Ford Mustang Mach-E Extended Range RWD, which is priced from £47,580 was also put through the comparative tests. Its range in the colder assessment fell by 18%

The Ford Mustang Mach-E Extended Range RWD, which is priced from £47,580 was also put through the comparative tests. Its range in the colder assessment fell by 18%

The £34,850 Skoda Enyaq iV 60's range dropped by 15.7% in the colder conditions

The £34,850 Skoda Enyaq iV 60’s range dropped by 15.7% in the colder conditions

The Fiat 500 supermini - models fitted with the bigger 42kWh battery that cost from £28,835 - saw range decline by 15.2% when temperatures were much cooler

The Fiat 500 supermini – models fitted with the bigger 42kWh battery that cost from £28,835 – saw range decline by 15.2% when temperatures were much cooler

However, the study found that if you specify your electric car with a heat pump, you’re likely to get significantly closer to the official range. 

A heat pump reduces strain on the battery by drawing excess heat from the electric drivetrain, distributing it around the interior of the car through the air conditioning.

This is highly recommended to EV customers in Britain who experience colder temperatures for longer periods throughout the year. 

What Car? and Move Electric tested five models so equipped, with these falling short of their ‘official’ – or WLTP – mileage figures by an average of 25.4 per cent. 

By comparison, five models that relied on a regular interior heater suffered an average deficit of 33.6 per cent.

RANGES OF ELECTRIC CARS WITH AND WITHOUT HEAT PUMPS
Model Variant Usable battery size Heat pump Official (WLTP) range Winter test range Shortfall
Fiat 500 42kWh Icon 37.3kWh No 198 miles 118 miles 40.0%
Ford Mustang Mach-E Extended Range RWD 88.0kWh No 379 miles 247 miles 34.6%
MG 5 Long Range Exclusive 57.0kWh No 250 miles 167 miles 33.1%
Audi Q4 e-tron 50 quattro S line 76.6kWh No 290 miles 201 miles 30.6%
Kia EV6 GT-Line RWD 72.5kWh Yes 328 miles 228 miles 30.4%
Skoda Enyaq iV 60 58.0kWh No 249 miles 174 miles 29.8%
Tesla Model Y Long Range 75.0kWh Yes 331 miles 247 miles 25.2%
Tesla Model 3 Long Range 75.0kWh Yes 374 miles 281 miles 24.8%
BMW iX3 M Sport 74.0kWh Yes 282 miles 212 miles 24.7%
Porsche Taycan 4S Performance battery Plus 83.7kWh Yes 287 miles 224 miles 21.8%
Source: What Car? and Move Electric   

The tests were conducted on a closed vehicle proving ground, on a 15-mile route consisting of 2.6 miles of simulated stop-start urban traffic, four miles of steady 50mph driving and eight miles driving at a constant speed of 70mph, to simulate motorway journeys.

Each of the 10 cars was fully charged and left outside for 15 hours, before being plugged in again to check the batteries were still at 100 per cent for the start of the test. 

They then had their climate control systems set to 21 degrees and were driven until they ran flat, with driver swaps at the end of each lap, and the cars’ positions also changed to ensure no car was constantly punching a hole in the air for the others.

Commenting on the research findings, Steve Huntingford, editor of What Car?, said: ‘Range remains one of the key considerations for electric car buyers, but when deciding whether a particular model can go far enough on a charge to fit into your life, it’s important to bear in mind that batteries don’t work as well in cooler conditions.’

James Attwood, editor of Move Electric, added: ‘If you do plan to push the range of your electric car in winter, we’d definitely recommend choosing one with a heat pump fitted or ticking that box on the options list, because these can significantly improve an electric vehicle’s range in cold driving conditions.’

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