frigid conditions

Sub-Zero Test Squadrons: The Race to Boost EV Range in Frigid Conditions

The frigid conditions of places such as Alaska are not exactly where some car enthusiasts would have their first choice to live! It can get as hard to endure and cold as minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit here. Such a harsh environment is not where you’d expect to find kids excitedly being shuttled with an electric school bus. Not very far from the Canadian border is bus number 50, boasting an animated horse decal on the side. This bus nails down a 40-mile commute each day, but students are beginning to get eager for field trips!

Boosting EV Range in Frigid Conditions

This bus actually fares quite well considering its demands, but it suffers from the same issue many other models like it experience globally. At 20 degrees F, electric vehicles simply don’t possess the longevity they do at a very comfy 70 degrees. The biggest drain on the battery’s energy is providing heat, which is produced with slightly older technology. In large cities such as New York and Chicago, entire bus fleets have been on the promised agenda by 2040.

Favoring the Earth’s Health as Snowflakes Fall:

This has posed the very dire issue of keeping buses on time, and consistently charged up and ready. The manufacturers of tomorrow along with drivers are collectively wondering if battery issues in cold weather could prevent EVs much-needed acceptance. Emissions are at the tipping point where they must trend downward immediately to remedy Climate Change. Thankfully, brilliant minds are chipping in worldwide and providing hope.

Cars that boast efficient heat pumps can fare better with the demands of cold weather on their valuable range. Since Tok has one of the most brutal climates in North America, batteries are always going to face a tough existence. When the temperatures plummet to around zero, the costs to use the buses nearly doubles. Tok already endures one of the highest electricity prices in the nation, making matters difficult right off the bat!

The dollars and cents of dire weather:

When the weather in Tok gets to its absolute coldest, it costs around $1.15 per mile to dispatch the bus. A diesel model would only cost around 40 cents per mile. EVs suffer from a range loss of about 30% on average when extreme cold hits various regions in the US. One resident of an area in Michigan that endured brutal cold this year claimed that his driving range drops from about 250 miles to 200.

It is estimated that around ¾ of this EV range loss is for heating the cabin, but the ways that people drive on the freeway are also a factor. Another fact for those pessimistic about EVs to keep in mind is that extreme cold can see gas engines losing as much as 15% of their range as well. Recent tests completed by the Norwegian Automobile Federation discovered some extreme differences.

Several Energy Issues Facing the EV Industry:

The popular Tesla S came in at about 16% under its advertised range, while the Toyota BZ4C finished at around 35% below its claim. During this test, temperatures were right at about 2 degrees F, and the cars were driven until they were completely out of power. Recurrent is a US company that touts expert knowledge and findings on battery life. They took on the task of keeping tabs on 7,000 vehicles remotely and achieved some valuable findings.

The use of heat pumps allows for outside air to aid a cold EV experiencing energy loss. The lithium ions inside batteries have issues traveling through electrolytes to produce electricity in the cold. On another very frigid day, General Motors send a squad of EVS to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to get numerous answers on how to make things better in the future. This was a true test of performance, nailing down the nitty gritty on what consumers will want to know as EVs will soon become the norm.

Besides the Icicles, How did Things Stack up?

A GMC Hummer pickup claims to have 329 miles of range per charge, and DID make the 315 miles journey to Sault Ste with a narrow 35 miles to spare. Head engineer Lawrence Ziehr recalled that when they reached a charging station on the first leg, it was unexpectedly dead. The Cadillac Lyriq fared well, hitting a very respectable 140+ kW during fast charging. The main objective of the trip was to learn more about how ultimate energy recovers.

During an official cold-weather test, the Tesla Model S won by a landslide, beating 28 other EVs on the icy scene. The Mercedes-Benz EQE saw a range drop of 33.9 percent but is admittedly one very fine example of what the future has to offer. The Porsche Taycan suffered the greatest loss during a test last year, while the Fiat 500e came out on top. Even with a hiccup in this instance, the Taycan is still a stellar achievement of modern engineering!

Conclusion on Frigid Conditions for EVs:

We have all woken up on a very cold morning and had trouble starting the car! With EVs already gaining traction and catching the attention of eco-conscious customers, many will consider their cold-weather performance. Is this an issue that concerns you, or does the premise of driving without gas override any other energy losses? Let us know in the comments below, or check out another article about features that help prepare a car for frigid conditions during winter.

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Jon Weirman
I am a freelance writer in the Midwest who specializes in vehicles built for expert-level off-roading, and anything with a staggering amount of horsepower. In my first life I worked in broadcasting for Starz Network and Discovery Channel. I also love retro video games and sci-fi movies. Everything from the loud and burly muscle cars of the late 1970s to new crossover SUVs with futuristic tech features have populated my inbox!

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