By on February 8, 2019

electrify-america-ev-charging-station, Electrify America
While we all know extreme temperatures influence the performance of electric vehicles, there isn’t a wealth of comprehensive studies on the matter. Hoping to impart some knowledge on the subject, the American Automobile Association released a report on Thursday that examines how climate impacts EVs.

AAA offered an abridged version in 2014, when it claimed data from its Automotive Research Center (ARC) showed battery-only driving range can be nearly 60 percent lower in extreme cold and 33 percent lower in extreme heat. However, the new study fine-tunes those numbers while exploring other avenues of how EV performance can suffer.

This time, the motor club federation rounded up electric vehicles for testing (BMW i3, Chevrolet Bolt, Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model S 75D, and Volkswagen e-Golf) and sent them to ARC in Los Angeles, CA. The study found that, on average, electric driving range decreases by 41 percent when outside temps fall to 20 degrees Fahrenheit and climate controls are switched on, versus the 75-degree benchmark. Range also diminished as the mercury rose, albeit not as aggressively. Running the A/C on a 95-degree day only resulted in a 17-percent average loss in total range.

That seems to indicate that EV battery performance has improved since 2014, as all the vehicles used in the last round of tests were from the 2017 model year or newer. But it also shows that colder climates remain a noteworthy obstacle for electric cars.

There are ways to mitigate this. Drivers can tailor their driving habits to maximize range and automakers have begun installing systems that help regulate battery temperatures. Owners can also pre-heat or cool their vehicles before taking it off the charger to reduce the burden the climate system places on the battery. However, none of these remedies come close to solving the problem entirely. Your best defense remains keeping an eye on your current charge status and holding onto the knowledge that extremely cold temperatures will have an impact.

“As long as drivers understand that there are limitations when operating electric vehicles in more extreme climates, they are less likely to be caught off guard by an unexpected drop in driving range,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of automotive engineering and industry relations, in a statement to Automotive News — which first shared the study.

While running an EV in extremely cold weather does incur a modest increase in cost to the owner, just like with internal combustion engines, the big problem is being caught out in the elements with severely diminished range. Losing almost half of your expected driving radius when it’s below freezing is not the kind of surprise you want to get on the side of a highway. Thankfully, AAA knows that knowledge is power and is eager to spread the word.

“The research clearly shows that electric vehicles thrive in more moderate climates, except the reality is most Americans live in an area where temperature fluctuates,” said Megan McKernan, manager of the Automotive Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center. “Automakers are continually making advances to improve range, but with this information, drivers will be more aware of the impacts varying weather conditions can have on their electric vehicles.”

The full study goes into extreme detail, examining the individual test results of each car and dialing down some of the associated costs, as well. We recommend taking a look at it if you’re interested in purchasing an EV outside the confines of a warm-weather state, orif you’re simply curious about the science behind the data.

[Image: Electrify America]

 

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83 Comments on “AAA Research Lays Out How Temperature Affects EV Range...”


  • avatar
    jatz

    “electric driving range decreases by 41 percent when outside temps fall to 20 degrees Fahrenheit”

    I am Moose; she is Squirrel. We are both very muchly laughing at EVs. A 20-above winter day is a gift here.

    • 0 avatar
      ttacgreg

      Add in some loose energy sucking snowpack conditions and watch the range take another hit.
      Just fot perpectve my gas vehicles range goes down by 25+% in Colorado snowbelt winters.

      • 0 avatar
        jatz

        #BatteriesSuck

        • 0 avatar
          Luke42

          Winter just costs extra energy. That’s why our ancestors used store firewood and food for winter.

          It affects everything. EVs, too, a bit more.

          • 0 avatar
            Lockstops

            It barely affects ICE cars because the heating comes for free as a side product.

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            …heating comes for free as a side product…

            heating comes for free as a waste product.

            There, fixed it for you

          • 0 avatar
            Lockstops

            golden2husky: heating comes without any extra costs or decreases in performance in the winter. Due to the nature of how ICEs work.

            With EV:s there come huge extra costs and decreases in performance in the winter. Plus risks of damage (requiring heating, management, restrictions of charging speed or charging altogether). Due to the nature of how EVs work.

            I, with my EV, experienced this in practice. For example even during a long drive in below freezing temps when I had to stop after only about 40 miles to charge up again the car only charged at a very reduced rate, sometimes barely at all. So instead of a 15-20 minute charging time it took an hour. Then repeat after another 40 miles… Same during hot temps in the summer: sometimes after sustained driving at highway speeds the car refused to charge barely at all, needing cooling time before it started charging at normal speeds.

            And of course this usually happens exactly when you’d need a quick charge the most… I have not theoretically, but in reality been back home late at night instead of hours before just due to driving an EV with charging speed issues due to non-optimal temperatures. I was prepared for some ‘adventure’ and extra effort with an EV, but that was just ridiculous.

            At least I never was completely stranded like several Teslas I saw (often due to optimising their range to a charging station that they then discovered to be out of order, therefore not having enough juice to get to another one). I had a range extender that saved my ass countless times, the percentage of charging station breakdowns is very very high. You simply can’t even optimise the puny range (of smart EVs with relatively small batteries, IMO large batteries are absolutely stupid as a design and are overall massively wasteful, also causing particulate pollution from wearing the roads plus they’re more dangerous) since you can’t risk making it to a charging station with too little juice left! You have to always have enough to get to the next charging station after that! And even then you have to risk having to wait half an hour to an hour if it’s occupied.

            PHEV is the way to go in countries where you still get most of the idiotic tax benefits with them. Pure ICE for non-socialist/cultist countries. No need to suffer from full EVs in a world where ICEs have been invented.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            @locksteps ” the percentage of charging station breakdowns is very very high”

            That’s BS. More baseless propaganda. Charger reliability is pretty good. If there’s an issue, you report it and they fix it. The charging networks have apps with status reports. You check the status before you go. It’s not a problem. Where I am, if a station were to go down, there are plenty of alternatives. The number of ports at charging stations are increasing too.

            I’ve seen plenty of gas stations go down for various reasons. ICE cars are also known to run out of fuel. Your EV was a BMW piece of crap and not representative of properly designed EVs. Lots of flaws in that little turd – but that’s BMW for you.

            “also causing particulate pollution from wearing the roads plus they’re more dangerous)”

            What are you talking about?? Particulate pollution from heavy vehicles? Guess what, battery densities are increasing and weight is coming down, so you can relax. A 258-mile range Hyundai Kona weighs about 3800 lbs. While about 700 lbs heavier than its ICE version, it’s still not bad in a world where a Porsche 911 is 3400 lbs.

            EVs are smoother, quieter, and quicker than ICE vehicles. You also avoid fueling hassles by being able to fuel overnight without dealing with driving somewhere and freezing while fueling. For me, a 250 to 300-mile range will eliminate my need for any kind of public charging except for very rare occasions. No gas stations and no charging stations needed. I know that won’t be the situation for everyone.

            Sure, EVs in their present form are not for everyone. I get that. I have friends that EVs aren’t a good match for various reasons. There’s a simple solution. Stop whining about it incessantly online and just don’t buy one. It’s that simple.

          • 0 avatar
            Lockstops

            mcs: That’s pretty arrogant, calling my real-world experience BS and baseless propaganda without anything to back that up.

            You are the one spewing BS and baseless propaganda: you cannot see the status of charging stations from anything (not the car’s nav’s charger listing, not from charger mapping apps) reliably or in real-time. Fact. Especially in Europe where I live there is pretty much ZERO info on charger issues even days after it’s been out of service. And you claim that “If there’s an issue, you report it and they fix it”??? Are you kidding or…well, I’d better not use such expletives here. What the hell does “reporting an issue” help if you’re heading home in the evening and you’re at a charging station that’s out of order?? Do you think someone’s going to be there in 10 minutes to repair it? Jesus Christ, please think even just a little bit before spewing such stupidity and even offending me before that!

            A gas station is ‘down’? Go to the next one a few miles down the road. No need to optimise your fuel tank range either so you can fuel up easily and quickly even when there’s still tens of miles worth left in the tank.

            Best thing in your very descriptive and telling screed was how you even tried to badmouth the most intelligent and advanced EV in the world, the BMW i3!

            And yes, particulate pollution from heavy EVs is real. Nothing you spewed disputed that fact. They are heavier and cause more particulate pollution.

            And you didn’t even have the guts to admit that far heavier EVs increase injuries, deaths and property damage to increase.

            Informing people of such issues is not ‘whining’. It’s important for people to understand what we’re dealing with especially since the government is already skewing the market and is looking to mess up the marketplace even more. The costs are MASSIVE. And those costs are going to be paid by all of us, unless people start behaving sanely and stop being gullible, giving all their money and power to unscrupulous players.

  • avatar
    Rnaboz

    None of this matters. When the Green New Deal goes through, we won’t leave the house when it gets below 32 degrees.

  • avatar
    random1

    41% reduction is massive. You’d think using some battery power to keep the battery warm would take less power?

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      A big chunk of the reduced range is due to keeping the cabin warm.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      Doubly so at 20. What about trying to make it back to Fairbanks at -50 and no charging station anywhere near…..

    • 0 avatar
      chris724

      I don’t think it’s because the batteries lose 41% of their energy in the cold. The loss in range is mostly because the batteries are being used to heat the cabin. The good part is, you should theoretically be able to have warm air blowing instantly. As long as you’re not going too far, this would be nice to have.

  • avatar
    Wunsch

    Their idea of cold weather is hilarious. But I recently saw a good post describing a Model 3 in some actual cold weather up here in Canada, and doesn’t sound as bad as I might have feared.

    https://www.reddit.com/r/saskatoon/comments/aodxwq/tesla_in_cold_weather_an_update/

  • avatar
    vvk

    I can confirm 40% reduction in very cold weather. Most of it is due to much higher air density and increased air resistance at highway speed. Using the heater and heating the battery does affect range but the effect is relatively minor.

    What this article fails to mention is just how amazing it is to have a warm, comfortable car in very cold weather instead of suffering the cold in an ICE vehicle. I recently had to use my ICE car to go to the train station. When I came back I had to run the engine for 1/2 hour before getting enough heat to clear a small hole in the iced over windshield. If I was in my EV, I would have preheated the car while still on the train, coming to a warm car that I would immediately be able to drive. When I have my kids with me, it is even more important. Driving, I don’t have to worry about a cold engine, or cold gearbox, or cold brakes. It is so much nicer overall!

    When I drive in very cold weather, I can adjust things to diminish the 40% to a more reasonable number. I can preheat while on shore power. I can pick a shorter, slower route instead of taking the faster, longer highway. I can drive 70 mph instead of the usual 90. All this helps reduce the range hit in very cold weather.

    • 0 avatar
      jatz

      Your Schweppervescence for EVs is bubbly!

    • 0 avatar
      redgolf

      vvk – ” I had to run the heat for 1/2 hour to get enough heat to clear a small hole in the iced over windshield” sounds like maybe you’ve got a blocked heater core, even when I lived in Michigan on a cold winter day never had to run more than 5-10 minutes! ever hear of a window scraper?

    • 0 avatar
      conundrum

      “Most of it is due to much higher air density and increased air resistance at highway speed”.

      No. Air density only varies about 15% between 0 and 100 degrees F. Pretty simple formula to calculate it.

      I can preheat my ICE car too, I have this crazy thing called a remote start. Don’t have a garage, so find it handy like today when freezing rain had occurred. $179 installed 11 years ago. And many newer cars can be started by phone from Wagga Wagga Australia if necessary. What alternative universe do you live in that you’ve never heard of such things?

    • 0 avatar
      multicam

      You’d sit in a car for 30 minutes waiting for ice to melt on your windshield? That’s…. insane.

      • 0 avatar
        redgolf

        it’s called lazy a$$ !

      • 0 avatar
        Lockstops

        Haha, where I live (Europe) it’s illegal to have your car sitting at idle for more than 2 minutes, or if the temperature is below -15C then the limit is 4 minutes.

        Any even slightly newish car that is in working order will have clear windows in a few minutes, and will be nice and warm in mx. 5 minutes.

        Obviously you have to scrape the windows yourself, that clears the windows with no heating needed from the inside. Heating is mostly just needed to keep the windows from fogging up on the inside. You can’t rely only on the car’s heating to clear your windows because even though it’ll thaw out the center portions relatively quickly (if no thick layer of snow and ice), it’s absolutely idiotic to wait for the very long time for the heat to melt off all the ice and snow from the whole surface area! And you NEED to clear out the ice and snow PROPERLY from all the front windows at least, and any responsible driver will clear out the other windows as well. It’s not like it’s a big hassle or effort.

        It isn’t even that necessary to use plugged in electric heaters to heat the interior of the vehicle’s interior prior to arriving to the car (which cost a lot less than the price difference between ICE and EV cars), but that is a comfort feature some people use. That will of course use heat from the inside to clear the windows, since it’ll be operational for a very long time before you arrive to your vehicle. Same goes with gasoline/diesel powered auxiliary heaters.

        In my PHEV it’s stupid how much electricity I have to use to pre-heat my car enough to have it completely clear and warmed up. In truth my cheap-o base BMW was absolutely no problem to start up completely cold and the seat heaters plus incredibly rapid heating up made the car tolerable in about a minute, and nice in 2-3 minutes every time. Then there’s the window scraping which you basically don’t need to almost ever do if you have a covered parking spot, and even without a covered spot it doesn’t take immensely long.

        My absolute priority 1 main tip for the (below zero) winter is (apart from having a relatively modern car that is well maintained) absolutely: get a roof over your parking spot. The roof alone nearly completely stops ice from forming on your windows. No need to have a heated garage, actually the car will probably be less prone to rust with no thawing out water everywhere every day (though rusting isn’t really an issue these days in my experience, at least with <10yr old cars).

        • 0 avatar
          Lockstops

          Adding one thing:

          Ice forms on your car windows due to condensation and evaporation. Simply having a roof over your car blocks that process on that spot, and means your windows will still be clear and a car in a spot without a roof right next to it will have a thick layer of ice on all of its windows.

        • 0 avatar
          redgolf

          when I lived in Michigan, if I thought about it and planned ahead for an icy morning (no garage or overhead roof) I would put a piece of cardboard on the windshield with the wipers left in the half up position to hold it securely, alleviated the scraping!

        • 0 avatar
          Alex Mackinnon

          What car do you have that you preheat? It sounds like you owned a real dud if that was a problem. I’ve got a 2012 Volt, and in general can preheat quite nicely off of about 1-2 kWh, which is Canada is worth about $0.15.

          The Volt might be a PHEV, but it will pretty happily go well above 140km/h. I haven’t tried to find the top speed, but it was well into the “enough” category.

          I have to laugh at all these “problems” that people seem to worry about. I’ve had my Volt for 5 years, and it just works without complaint. Granted, I live in BC, which is as warm as Canada gets. The car happily goes up and down all the mountain passes around here and gets me to and from the ski hill with pretty minimal gas usage. The PHEV concept just holds up really well here.

          It works great in the snow, the range definitely suffers, but the limiting factor is generally ground clearance.

    • 0 avatar
      bullnuke

      Yep, vvk, this is exactly what I’ve been looking for. An overly costly vehicle (though subsidized by others at the bottom line) that I am required to modify my existence to utilize due to out of the fairly narrow parameters daily atmospheric conditions. Just what I want – gotta plan my day around a car’s failings to get along with ownership. It may be easier to utilize the gelding out in the barn in winter without excuses – he grows sufficient hair to stay warm, costs somewhat less for fuel (about 1/3 bale of hay @ $4.00/bale), drinks well water, is always ready to make a run to town, and I have the proper clothing for the weather down to -20 degF.

    • 0 avatar
      Tele Vision

      @vvk

      You don’t own a window scraper? Or a credit card? C’mon, man. Even jewel cases would work, back in the day.

    • 0 avatar
      Jagboi

      There is something wrong with your ICE car, like a stuck thermostat. I started my car this week when it was -30C and the car wasn’t plugged in. Within 3 miles the engine was up to full temperature and the heater was putting out lots of heat.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    These are very realistic numbers – ones the mfrs won’t talk about.

    The shroud of secrecy cast over EV performance in temperature extremes is self-defeating for the EV industry. The Monroney sticker should publish EPA-established range figures for extreme temperatures, as a means of allaying range anxiety. This would be akin to publishing the side effects for various medications.

    What dealer (including Tesla) really wants a customer to hear that their EV will lose 40+% range in cold weather?

    How many EV drivers have been unhappy with their purchase upon seeing their cold-weather range? (This was a real shocker to me with my Leaf 1.0, even though I knew there’d be a hit.)

    Good on the AAA for taking the time to perform this study.

    • 0 avatar
      EGSE

      “This would be akin to publishing the side effects for various medications.”

      (voiceover) “If you’re taking lithium-ion for EV and range reduction lasts for more than four hours, see a doctor.”

    • 0 avatar
      civicjohn

      @SCE, good comments.

      It really would be good if the EPA included some temperature ranges that helped create the calculation for eMPG or MPG for ICE vehicles. Both need to provide these numbers. My county is one of those that doesn’t allow ICE cars to be left on for heating – while it’s not enforced that much, ICE cars have similar impacts to their range while preheating, but it’s debatable how much the emissions are, as the EPA’s greenhouse gas is based on the lifetime of the vehicle.

      There are so many potential customers for EVs that won’t be able to have an indoor place to charge overnight. I live in a condo community, and while I have a garage, over 50% of the condos don’t, some have an overhead roof for their parking spots, while others do not. Large urban cities that have apartment buildings and street parking simply can’t avoid being hit by snow or freezing rain. I’m hopeful that the charging stations grow at such a high rate where they are as ubiquitous as gas stations, but that isn’t going to be happening within the next 5 years, maybe 10.

      I believe that it was Tesla that provided an OTA “update” for those living in cold climates to turn on the heat and somehow direct it to the outside door handles which become frozen if you don’t have a garage. I’m somewhat skeptical of how quickly that can be done, but there has been no feedback from Tesla owners that I can find to say this is THE fix. My guess is that it’s a pretty big hit to range.

      It was more than ironic that while I was typing this I believe the 20th, or 25th (I’m losing count) Dem announced a run for President. Amy Klobuchar is now in the fight, and while she was making her point to “rejoin the international climate change group” – I don’t know if she was speaking about the Paris Accord or a UN convention, but it was kind of funny watching her literally speaking in a whiteout of snow, the camera shots were becoming overcome by the snowfall. Her peeps probably told her that it might not be a good idea to join the “Green Dream Team” during this speech.

  • avatar
    Lockstops

    https://goo.gl/images/LakqRE

  • avatar
    65corvair

    I’m on vacation in Waikiki, where they have a show room. The salesperson lied to me. Asked how they are when it’s -20, said you would lose on a little bit. Was surprised when I told him gas cars start at those temps. Perhaps in fifty years electric cars will be better than ice.

  • avatar
    vehic1

    I’m sure that none of this ever occurred to the carmakers who are sinking billions into EVs – and that these problems are beyond human ingenuity, to make manageable and livable in most circumstances. Old guard, rejoice! The ecstacy of cold-weather ICE operation shall return us to those “good ol’ days” “when men were men” with “a man like Herbert Hoover again” yet.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    I often wonder what happens to an EV when it gets a windshield dump of slushy mix from another vehicle when driving along as the temperature is going down. And the dump freezes and you’re blind. That’s when you need some real defrost heat. Like right now, not five seconds later. Is there enough reserve capacity to thaw the screen quickly on these EVs? The auto temp control on my ICE car I never use in cold weather – always set it to screen/feet or it can be dicey if you need some real heat on the glass at any instant. The hazards of winter.

    • 0 avatar
      jatz

      “And the dump freezes and you’re blind. That’s when you need some real defrost heat.”

      No prob! Just punch the Autopilot button.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      EVs warm up much faster than ICEs, and yes, there is plenty of warmth to defrost a window.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        EVs tend to come with auxillary heaters. It’s aux heaters who warm up cabins faster than relying on engine heat. Not electric vs ice motors per se.

        I have aux heaters in Diesels, and some of those (the ones who directly burn diesel to heat the cab, rather than to preheat and circulate engine coolant), warm up the cab pretty much instantaneously. Even in Fairbanks at -50. In some military vehicles, they dump so much heat, it’s almost like setting off a diesel bonfire on the floor of the cab.

    • 0 avatar
      Carlson Fan

      “I often wonder what happens to an EV when it gets a windshield dump of slushy mix from another vehicle when driving along as the temperature is going down. And the dump freezes and you’re blind. ”

      Why would it be slushy when it hit your windshield and then suddenly freeze? You realize that makes no sense don’t you? I’ve been driving on winter roads in Minnesota for a long time, never had that happen once. For a reason….basic science 101.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    Cold weather gives an EV the double whammy. First is the loss in battery range due to colder temperatures . Second is the electric heat. Nothing more inefficient that making heat w/electricity.

    Living in MN it’s nice to have the ICE in my Volt. At anything under 15F the gas engine turns on to heat the battery. And then you can use that heat to warm the cabin as well. Last week I had a -31F and -32F morning driving to work. Coming home tonight it was -15F.

    • 0 avatar
      Dilrod

      I sat behind a Volt on I35W heading into Bloomington one of those mornings. I noticed the engine was on.

      I usually see a Tesla most days while commuting, but not on these super cold days. I wonder why….

      • 0 avatar
        Carlson Fan

        There are actually two temperature settings. I put mine on the colder setting otherwise the default setting will start running the engine at just under 30F which is kind of ridiculous IMO.

  • avatar
    carguy67

    “One major problem for northerners, that no EV company has addressed, nor likely will be able to anytime soon:
    Battery charging in cold weather climes-

    Specifically, those who live where the temperature goes below freezing (0C, or 32F).

    If you own a cellphone you might have run into this. You go outside in the winter, you expose the phone to cold weather for a while, and suddenly it shuts down, claiming it has no power. You bring it inside and suddenly, without being charged, it starts working again. What happened?

    Did the battery actually shut off? Well, not really. The phone did, however, protect itself (and you) from exploding.

    Let’s start with the basics: Chemical reactions are temperature dependent.

    That is, when its colder outside, chemical reactions tend to occur more slowly.

    Lithium chemistry batteries can deliver current below 0C (freezing) but as temperature drops so does their current-delivery capacity. The same thing happens with the lead-acid battery in your car, by the way, which is one reason that a weak battery can’t start the car in sub-zero temperatures (the other is that the oil is thicker, so it’s harder to turn the engine over.)

    At a certain point — very cold — the electrolyte in a battery freezes. For a lead-acid battery this depends on the state of charge; a nearly-discharged battery will freeze at a much higher temperature than a fully-charged one. In any case if a battery’s electrolyte freezes it is almost-invariably ruined immediately because the case ruptures when that happens, and even if the case doesn’t rupture the cathode and anode are severely damaged.

    With lithium-chemistry batteries, however, there is a second problem which is far more-serious: They cannot be recharged below freezing temperatures without being destroyed and, even worse, rendered permanently and immediately dangerous.

    Batteries work by using a reversible chemical reaction. When they deliver current the reaction runs one way, and when charged it runs the other. When a lithium battery is charged the lithium ions leave the cathode return to the anode, and when discharged the reverse happens through a chemical reaction in which the electrolyte provides the transport. The anode is a graphite compound and those ions intercalate, meaning they become intertwined into the anode’s structure. Because the anode is a layered material this causes the anode to actually expand in size (that’s accounted for in the design of the battery and is normal.)

    The problem is that below freezing (0C) most of the lithium ions fail to intercalate into the graphite. They instead plate out as metallic lithium on the anode. This blocks access to the lattice of the anode and thus transport of the ions; the result of that is a permanent and severe capacity loss along with much higher internal resistance (inability to deliver the desired current.)

    If the bad news ended there it would be bad enough but it doesn’t.

    What’s much worse is that metallic plating is not even. The introduction of lead-free solder saw a new phenomena show up in electronics called “dendrite shorts”; what happens over time is that the metal actually “grows” little spikes and if they grow far enough to reach another connection point you get a short circuit.

    Metallic plating inherently forms these dendrites and they are sharp and uneven.

    Recall that normal charging causes the anode to expand. But now, instead of a nice even surface the anode has what amount to thousands of tiny little pins sticking out of it!

    If mechanical shock or simply a high enough charge rate causes one or more of those “pins” to puncture the separator between the anode and cathode you get a direct short in the cell, the resulting short circuit causes the cell to heat, the electrolyte boils and bursts the case and the flammable electrolyte ignites.

    In other words you get a battery fire.

    Even one charge in a lithium-chemistry cell that takes place below 0C not only will do severe damage to its capacity it also renders the cell permanently unsafe. There is no way to know how unsafe the event has made it; no cell of this chemistry that has been charged while below 0C is safe to use as it can catch fire at any time without warning.

    So if you own a battery-powered car with such cells in it the vehicle has to prevent this from happening. It thus must CONSTANTLY monitor the pack temperature and do whatever it can to prevent the pack from ever going below freezing (consuming oodles of power), because not only will that cause the pack to be unable to deliver its full capacity it is prohibited to charge the pack while any cell in it is below 0C. If the pack is charged in that state it is unsafe, and may short internally, burst and catch fire without warning at any point in the future.

    So when a battery-powered car (e.g. a Tesla) is in your garage and plugged in then it has access to unlimited energy to prevent that from happening. Of course nobody is talking about how stupid it is to have a vehicle that CONSTANTLY must consume power simply because it gets cold in order to defend itself against becoming a firebomb. That’s not very “tree-huggerish”, right?

    Well, tough crap because that’s exactly what the vehicle has to do due to the inherent reality of the chemistry in its battery system.

    What’s even worse, however, is if you drive said vehicle somewhere well within its range during below-freezing temperatures and then park it where it will go well below freezing, and cannot be plugged in, or if you drive it under conditions that are cold enough that heat lost from the pack and its “cooling system” to the outside air becomes problematic, which in either case the car will be forced to consume its available power to keep the pack over 0C — shortening its return-trip range. If you operate it, or leave it out there for any material amount of time, it will consume enough of that power that it is forced to shut down completely, and in that state it cannot be charged until the pack is warmed with some source of external power or the car is towed somewhere warm and given enough time to warm up naturally!

    Of course if it gets cold enough the pack will freeze and be destroyed anyway, but that temperature (for lithium cells) is unlikely in the Continental US to be reached on a sustained basis (no such bets are accepted for northern Canada and Alaska, however!)

    Contrast this with a gas (or diesel, assuming gel-protected fuel) vehicle — so long as you can reach minimum cranking speed required the vehicle will start.

    The irony of all the tree-huggers buying a vehicle, that must continually consume power that the tree-huggers claim to be worried about conserving, when temperatures are below freezing in order to prevent catastrophic damage to itself, including turning into a firebomb, is utterly delicious.

    But if you are in warm sunny California, or Florida, or somewhere that doesn’t have temps that go below freezing, I guess have fun ! (there are other more major issues, such as the fact that the current US power grid, would have to triple in size, to support all cars converting to EV’s, meanwhile, the current grid is in the hole to the tune of AT least $5 trillion behind on maintenance, and replacement, to just maintain status quo.) Oh, but EV’s are going to ‘save’ GM, and the planet from AGW.

    P.s. The above is courtesy of Karl Denninger, over at Market Ticker, who at least has enough brains and technology background to understand some of the many shortcomings of ‘going all in’ on EV’s. Its going to be an interesting niche for a whole lot of years to come folks. Not going to deter anyone from enjoying them now, but beyond being just a VERY expensive niche, that loses money on EVERY single copy made, at EVERY vehicle EV maker, the industry continues to be way over hyped, and not too far from the fantasy and scam that is Bitcoin and Crypto’s.”

    Commentor ‘Mike R’ at wolfstreet.com 11/26/18

    • 0 avatar
      jatz

      Good God.

      Post of the Year.

      The greenie engineers have demonstrated a willingness to take a little wastage in the red states as the cost of fighting this war.

    • 0 avatar
      stingray65

      Wow – thank you for the very informative post, but no doubt there will be some Tesla fanbois that will soon tell us that this information on battery chemistry must be funded by big oil.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        Not “fanbois”, just people interested in telling the truth. If it’s such a big problem, then what are all of those EVs being bought in Scandinavia doing in the winter? I’ve put in a lot of miles in below zero temps myself.

        By the way. I don’t think most EV buyers are buying them for green purposes or tree-hugging. The “greenies” “treehugger” thing is getting a bit old. The reality is that many of us are buying them because they have loads of power, smooth as glass, and quiet. Sure, there are people that buy them for green purposes, but I suspect it’s only a secondary reason for most people.

        I don’t have time to comment on the long post, but here’s a video of a Tesla Model X owner overnight camping in a Model X in Norway at -36C that says it all. I start the video at the point he starts the car. You can go back and watch the entire thing if you want to see the camping part.

        youtu.be/capOgUHPz9Q?t=823

        • 0 avatar
          ToddAtlasF1

          “By the way. I don’t think most EV buyers are buying them for green purposes or tree-hugging. The “greenies” “treehugger” thing is getting a bit old. The reality is that many of us are buying them because they have loads of power, smooth as glass, and quiet. Sure, there are people that buy them for green purposes, but I suspect it’s only a secondary reason for most people.”

          Always fun to hear the latest spin from a Twee Musk-ateer. Obviously, they aren’t green. The supply pipeline isn’t the kind that leaves the land unscarred, and just wait until reclaiming their materials at end-of-life is a common concern. Then there’s the issue of their wealthy proponents needing a real car for spontaneous road trips, and another for fowl conditions. That won’t do the planet any favors either, sort of like private jets. It’s okay though, because what’s life without one’s luxuries? Why on earth should the little people be subsidizing these luxuries, and why should the legislatures of the world be trying to eliminate non-luxury forms of private transportation? If the working class ever wakes up to what the progressive politicians are doing to them, I sure wouldn’t want to be wearing a Model-X sized target that day.

        • 0 avatar
          TimK

          The model X has a large battery, and the battery management system can divert available power to keep the internal temperature within limits. Of course when the battery is eventually exhausted that camper in Norway is SOL.

          Another “feature” of Tesla’s battery manager is that it will permanently lock out the charging function if any of a number of critical events occur. One critical event is a discharge below the calculated safety threshold for cell voltage. This happened to a buyer who took delivery of a rather expensive Tesla and let it sit in a garage for two years off the charger. The battery voltage declined to the point where the manager locked-out the charging function, completely disabling the vehicle. When the buyer complained, Tesla told him he needed to purchase a new battery at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars.

        • 0 avatar
          stuki

          The Scandinavians buying Teslas by the cotainerloads, are Norwegians. Who pay to the tune of 400% taxes on comparable ICE cars, versus none on BEVs. And who are barely provided parking spots for non BEVs anymore, while battery chargers are being put in place everywhere. And who get to drive in bus lanes, on sidewalks, disregard speed limits, run over schoolkids (to save the planet from overpopulation) etc., etc. if they buy a BEV. They’re not buying, and camping in, them because they make the world of sense vis-a-vis ICEs on an even basis.

          In very comparable Sweden, where taxes on regular cars are less extreme, hence relative politically mandated benefits to buying BEVs also less completely over the top, the mix is much less skewed towards BEVs.

          …While in Fairbanks, where asymmetric incentives are less still, though still not nonexistent, people just don’t buy Teslas to go bushcamping in the winter. At least the literate ones don’t. Not because they’re necessarily all that much better informed than Norwegians, but just because they get to compare the two modes of propulsion on a more apples to apples basis, before making a decision on which vehicle makes the most sense for bushcamping at -30 and below.

        • 0 avatar
          Lockstops

          “Not “fanbois”, just people interested in telling the truth. If it’s such a big problem, then what are all of those EVs being bought in Scandinavia doing in the winter? I’ve put in a lot of miles in below zero temps myself.”

          I’ve owned an EV in Scandinavia and sold it. The range was laughable in winter. It would’ve been ok for a certain type of person who drives only very short distances, but at that amount of electricity wasted you’re actually spending near diesel-vehicle levels for it.

          Then there’s how much juice it uses just to heat the battery and warm up plus keep the cabin up to regular temperatures. Sure, you can mostly do it while plugged in, but that’s also wasted electricity.

          I’m definitely not convinced about the long-term longevity of the batteries when using it in cold temps often between -15 to -30C. Let alone having to DC charge them in cold temps. My EV’s cooling system had to be completely overhauled during my ownership, luckily covered by warranty. Though it took a long time since getting qualified EV staff and then getting parts in caused long delays.

        • 0 avatar
          Lockstops

          “By the way. I don’t think most EV buyers are buying them for green purposes or tree-hugging. ”

          That’s right. In Scandinavia I and lots of others bought ours purely for the tens of thousands saved due to taxes. Tens of thousands. So not in any way thanks to the tech or the car itself being better. Just because religious lunatics are in charge and give EV owners money and rob ICE owners blind. Classic socialism.

          “The “greenies” “treehugger” thing is getting a bit old. The reality is that many of us are buying them because they have loads of power, smooth as glass, and quiet. Sure, there are people that buy them for green purposes, but I suspect it’s only a secondary reason for most people.”

          Loads of power compared to what? My EV had a top speed of 140km/h. And definitely wasn’t suited to driving constantly at speeds over 120km/h for long periods of time. Not at all.

          I’ve tracked 5 different cars last year, and my EV couldn’t manage a fraction of the performance they had. I’ve also enjoyed spirited drives on curvy rural roads in ICE cars, something my EV would’ve just been ‘meh’ at.

          After selling my EV and temporarily driving the bargain basement ICE model of that brand it felt like a Rolls Royce due to its much softer suspension and slightly lower NVH.

          It’s a good thing if some people don’t buy them for ‘green purposes’ because they sure as hell aren’t ‘green’.

        • 0 avatar
          civicjohn

          @mcs,

          so some dude camped out in his car. That explains everything, because I camp in my car on a regular basis.

          First, he gets in the car and touches the screen to lock the doors. Way cool. Then he builds a “studio car” to keep in heat. Looks like you could cut some pretty good vocals in that as well. Lively banter while he cuddles up for a nap!

          Now he shows off the freezing ice on the inside of the sunroof! I’ve never seen that feature before! Frost on all of the inside windows, what more can a person dream about. Now we get the pouring water on the hood test, which is insightful with respect to battery range. And all of his credit card scratching won’t hurt the paint because he had an aftermarket treatment put on the hood – seems like that should be standard from the factory.

          So now he’s ripping down the highway at 50 kph, continues to have a tire pressure warning, no power steering, and he gets out and looks at the tire with the low pressure waring and the chrome bits are gone from the wheel well. Happens everyday to me. Lastly, he wraps up by NOT explaining how much range he got, just that he probably needed to “wash” the tires. I believe you wrote “smooth as glass, and quiet.” Didn’t really see that play out in this video.

          This is your point? The dude complains repeatedly about the tire noise and other noises. I can’t believe that I actually put myself through 23 minutes of this but if you think for a moment this is a commentary that provides evidence that there’s no range loss with EVs, good luck with that. I somehow wish I could have got those 23 minutes back.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            I never said there was no range loss. There is always going to be some range-loss in any vehicle in those types of conditions. The purpose was to show that EVs are useable outside of the sunbelt. It also shows the battery heater in operation.

            BTW, learn to use the fast forward functions in youtube. I skipped over most of the camping and some of the drive.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Very interesting read about battery chemistry. So it is safe to say EVs are not for everyone. However, where most of the population density resides in the US, there are many places where below freezing temps are not common. The post could have done without the righty-tighty smugness about “tree huggers” and other Fox inspired BS. But then again Market-Ticker is a hard right website, so I will actually do research on the battery issue because that site obviously has a heavy bias. The battery story might be 100% correct, but coming from a source that is so vested against anything that might be “left” (as if saving resources is a lefty issue) it must be verified….

    • 0 avatar
      redgolf

      so you keep a cheap ice car for really cold days (or months) and drive the EV when ya thaw out, brilliant! issue solved, I’m keeping my old faithful 97 Grand Prix! just in case.

    • 0 avatar
      Carlson Fan

      “or if you drive it under conditions that are cold enough that heat lost from the pack and its “cooling system” to the outside air becomes problematic, which in either case the car will be forced to consume its available power to keep the pack over 0C — shortening its return-trip range.”

      I can only speak for my Volt but park it in below freezing temps like I do everyday while at work during the winter, and the battery range will be identical to when I parked it. If it warms up from say 17F in the morning to 30F when it’s time to go home I’ll see an increase in range. Opposite if the temperature drops. Simply put it does not need to warm the battery at any temp below freezing to keep the battery from getting damaged.

      Last week I parked it in -31F weather. It never got warmer than -15F that day and by the time I was ready to go home the temp was -19F. The car had been sitting for 11 hours so it was good and cold. What I did noticed at those temps is even with juice left in the battery it runs in gas mode as though the battery is exhausted. I have a 17 mile commute one way and about 5 miles from home the battery icon popped back up on my dash as the ICE had warmed the battery up enough that it was now being used to propel the car. Again the number bars on the battery being the same as when I parked it in the morning.

      • 0 avatar
        TimK

        The Chevy Volt has a relatively small (18 kWh) battery that is never stressed — in charge or discharge. It intentionally operates in a Goldilocks zone where the ugly chemistry effects related to low temperatures are unlikely.

        IIRC Volts were flying out of the showrooms, a real success story for GM.

    • 0 avatar
      JoDa

      Stop with all the sciency stuff…Science is rayyy-thist. sniff-sniff.

    • 0 avatar
      JoDa

      “…the fact that the current US power grid, would have to triple in size, to support all cars converting to EV’s”

      Not 3X…5X more generation capacity – and the long-haul power cables can’t carry the current so ~10,000 new localized power plants will have to be built. Forget the cost of it all…Can you just imagine all the little NIMBY squawking?

      • 0 avatar
        Lockstops

        We don’t even have to go into the massive costs of power stations needed, just start with the cost of the charging cables needed!! At least here in Europe the price has clearly settled at a bottom of pretty exactly 250€. No-one anywhere is selling them cheaper, so clearly that is a competitive price point. For a normal type2 to type2 (male to female) cable, no electronics or anything included. Now multiply that with every single EV you want to put on the road. Plus some more since people will lose & damage them. That’s a massive cost to society, and we’re only talking about a simple cable at this point!

        That 250€ cable comes with the car in some cases, in many cases it doesn’t. And sure, some people may claim they won’t need it. Most will want to charge at public chargers that require your own cable. And my main point is the cost of even these little and simple things like cables! That gives you a good idea as to why proper car manufacturers haven’t been eager to offer EVs = they don’t make financial sense at all!! (Without socialist/cultist governments using other peoples’ money to skew the marketplace and increase the overall cost to society even more for the benefit of a handful of virtue-signallers…)

        I don’t know about the regulations in America, but in Europe with the new regulations you have to pay at least 400€ (ok, let’s say 300€ at least since priced might ease up a bit soon) just for the required protection devices and labour of the electrician for any kind of simple household plug you want to use for home charging! That cost caused me to decide to get a proper charging station for my PHEV instead of using a normal household plug, since it only costs me around 1000€ in all to install the complete charging station (with tethered cable). So minimum 300€ for a very lousy user experience where you’d have to go to the trunk, open it, dig out your home-plug-charger, plug it into the wall, then plug it into the car. Then do the reverse of that every time you leave. For about 1000€ you get the added comfort of only having to grab the cable, open the charging port of your car, plug it in, and then lock the car. That approx. 1000€ includes no smart features, no wireless connectivity, only the necessary protections and a charging station between 3.5kW to 22kW (they cost roughly the same no matter what power you get, at least if you shop around for the best value companies’ products). Americans can be glad that you have a better functioning market economy so you’ll pay less than the sums I mentioned, but the figures are still large especially when multiplied throughout society. Most of that cost is a burden on society as a whole, it’s out of our spending power on other things.

    • 0 avatar
      civicjohn

      @carguy67,

      Wow. I don’t know whether to thank you or Karl Denninger (or both), but that is one of the most knowledgeable posts I’ve ever read.

      Thank you!

  • avatar
    JoDa

    Just get yourself a gasoline “Winter Beater” for $10K. It’s a lot cheaper than risking damage to your $15K lithium battery pack.

  • avatar
    JoDa

    Don’t know why you call the little goofs “Tree Huggers” when CO2 and H2O (car exhaust) is keeping trees alive. Maybe you should call the environmentalretardists “Tree Killers”…And why are they called “Green”? Shouldn’t they be “Brown”?

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Because anything, even essential elements that keep your body properly regulated, are toxic in excessive levels. Don’t believe me? Go find somebody who has to take potassium pills and swallow 10 of them. If you wake up in the ER you will be lucky. The “CO2 is plant food not a pollutant” meme is not only tiring, it is horrifically inaccurate.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Heat in extreme cold is going to be tough. I know the higher trim Leaf got a heatpump type arrangement to save on energy. The problem with that is that when it gets below 20 or so Heat pumps loose the ability to make much in the way of heat. In the South we have a resistive grid built into the system to compensate. It takes a lot of energy, but it works because its not that cold very often.

    I’m not sure how you address this up North. Combined with the fact batteries just dont work as well in the cold and this becomes a real issue. The last time I drove the kids Leaf when it was in the teens here I started off at around 55 miles as opposed to the 78 or so it does in warmer weather (both 100 percent). This was thawing and heating it while still plugged in and just running my seat and steering wheel heater (its an S trim so no heatpump…the heater kills the battery).

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