AAA report: Freezing temps slash electric vehicle range almost in half

Extremely cold temperatures can decrease electric vehicle operating range by 41 percent, according to a new report by the American Automobile Association. The excess battery drain results primarily from using the vehicle’s HVAC to warm the vehicle interior.

High temperatures that require greater effort by an EV’s air conditioning system also shorten driving range, but keeping passengers warm when it’s below freezing has the greater effect.

AAA compared average operating range and fuel economy among five electric vehicles at 20 degrees and 95 degrees Fahrenheit to their performance at 75 degrees, a moderate temperature at which the vehicles had the highest range and fuel economy.

Even when the EVs were run without using their HVAC systems, operating range and fuel economy dropped, but not as drastically as when the heating or cooling systems were employed.

At 20 degrees Fahrenheit, the average driving range decreased 12 percent and fuel economy dropped nine percent; both compared to 75-degree temperature operation. With the HVAC systems in use, however, the tested EVs’ average driving range decreased 41 percent and fuel economy fell 39 percent at 20-degree temps.

At an above normal 95 degrees, running with no air conditioning cut the range by four percent and fuel economy by five percent. When the AC was turned on in 95-degree testing the range decreased by 17 percent and fuel economy slipped 18 percent.

AAA recommendations

AAA has four recommendations to help owners prepare for EV’s reduced driving range and lower fuel economy before driving when the weather is colder or hotter than usual:

    • Account for the lower driving range and plan for more charging stops than usual. Check the locations of charging station along your route before beginning your trip.
    • Reduce the EV’s effort to bring the cabin to a comfortable temperature range by pre-heating or pre-cooling while connected to a charger.
    • Park the EV in a garage.
    • Get used to planning if you own an EV in areas in the U.S. with frequent extreme temperatures, especially in states with long, cold winters.

AAA tested five electric vehicles in conjunction with the Automotive Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center (ARC) in Los Angeles. AAA selected one vehicle per manufacturer, with the requirement that the EVs were sold in the U.S. and had a minimum 100-mile EPA estimated driving range. The test vehicles included a 2018 BMW i3s, 2018 Chevrolet Bolt, 2018 Nissan Leaf, 2017 Tesla Model S 75D, and a 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf.

Product Review

The Ferrari Portofino is the super stallion you’ll want to drive every day

With the introduction of the Portofino, Ferrari addresses the California T’s stylistic shortcomings while improving comfort, convenience, and performance. There’s little “entry-level” about this super stallion.
Emerging Tech

NASA’s Mars 2020 rover passes its tests with flying colors

The Mars 2020 rover team has been undertaking a series of tests to see if the craft will be able to launch, navigate, and land on the Red Planet. Called Systems Test 1, or ST1, these tests represent the first test drive of the new rover.
Smart Home

These best outdoor security cameras will keep porch pirates at bay

Worried about porch pirates stealing your packages, or intruders entering your home? Always be in the know about who or what is on your property by installing one of these outdoor security cameras.

FWD vs. RWD vs. AWD: How the wheels that turn change the way you drive

Let's face it, you've likely heard front-, rear-, and all-wheel drive mentioned before in some context or another. But what do these terms mean, especially in terms of performance? We’ve got the answers.

Tesla wirelessly gives the Model 3 a 5-percent increase in power

Tesla again showed the potential of its innovative over-the-air software updating system by making the Model 3 five percent more powerful via a firmware update. The Performance model gained 23 horsepower.

Autonomous shuttle rides coming to New York City via Optimus Ride

Workers at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in NY City will soon be able to make their way around the 300-acre industrial park in Optimus Ride's self-driving shuttles. The tech startup says it's the first trial of its kind in the state.
Product Review

2019 Volkswagen Jetta offers German refinement and tech at an affordable price

With enough tech to make villains jealous, the Volkswagen Jetta punches above its class as a forward-thinking sedan. Spacious, comfortable, and efficient, the Jetta is a refined offering. German refinement comes with a serious attitude.

Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi group uses Microsoft cloud platform for connected cars

The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance is launching a new cloud platform for its cars. Based on Microsoft Azure, the Alliance Intelligent Cloud will enable features like connected services and over-the-air updates.

The 2019 Toyota C-HR gains a popular tech feature as its price comes down

Toyota has updated the C-HR, its entry-level crossover, by adding an entry-level trim level to the lineup. Every model regardless of price also comes standard with an 8.0-inch touchscreen compatible with Apple CarPlay.

The 2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupe is an exercise in form-over-function design

Porsche expanded its lineup of SUVs with a swoopier evolution of the Cayenne named Cayenne Coupe. Don't let the name fool you: it still has four doors. It stands out with a fastback-like roofline that's lower than the Cayenne's.
Product Review

Chris is the virtual co-pilot phone-obsessives need in their car

Driving while using your phone is dangerous, and often illegal. Meet Chris, the digital assistant for your car that wants to help keep your hands off your phone, and your eyes on the road.

Protect yourself and your ride with our favorite dash cams

Dashboard cameras can assist drivers in car accident claims, settle speeding ticket disputes, and even catch glimpses of incoming meteors, among other things. Here, we've compiled a list of the most noteworthy offerings available.

Tesla revives its referral program with chances to win a Roadster

Tesla has revived its referral program that ended in February because of cost pressures. This time around the perks aren't quite as diverse, though it does offer regular chances to win a Roadster or Model Y.

Tesla ends scheduled servicing because electric cars need less maintenance

Tesla will longer offer scheduled maintenance plans, switching to an "as needed" model. This reflects the fact that electric cars need less regular maintenance than gasoline or diesel cars.