Temperature Extremes Slash Battery Life in Electric Cars

Thursday, 20 Mar 2014 10:46 PM

By Jason Devaney

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Electric cars have less than half the battery life in the dead of winter as they do when temperatures are milder, a new study has found.

AAA tested three electric vehicles — a 2013 Nissan Leaf, a 2012 Mitsubishi iMiEV, and a 2014 Ford Focus Electric — and discovered the average battery range dropped from 105 miles at 75 degrees to 43 miles at 20 degrees.

And when the temperature was at 95 degrees, the battery life fell to 69 miles.

"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, the managing director of AAA Automotive Engineering and Repair in the report. "However, EV drivers need to carefully monitor driving range in hot and cold weather."

Testing took place between December 2013 and January 2014 at a AAA facility. The cars were "driven" on a dynamometer, a machine with rollers on which the wheels spin so the car can stay in one place, in a temperature-controlled room. Testing was done at hot, cold, and moderate temperatures to simulate varying weather conditions.

"EV drivers need to plan carefully in hot and cold weather," the report says.

Green Car Reports says sales of plug-in electric vehicles in the United States totaled 96,000 last year.  That was up from the roughly 53,000 sold in 2012, the website reports.

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