Electric car autonomy in the cold

The range of an electric car can be reduced by 20% when temperatures drop.

Here’s why and tips to limit losses.

All vehicles, petrol or electric, lose performance when it is cold. But paradoxically, the electric car suffers more because of its “too good” efficiency: while a thermal car generates a lot of unnecessary heat, electric models convert all the energy produced for propulsion. But it is precisely its weak point in cold weather.

Most electric vehicles are equipped with lithium-ion batteries, which operate optimally between 0 and 45 ° C. When it is too cold, the Li + electrons lose their mobility in the electrolyte. Result, a loss of power to the landfill and especially the load: the battery will take much longer to fill when connected.

Protect the battery by reducing the autonomy
Current models are designed to account for this loss and warm the battery accordingly to maintain its performance. But for that, it must either draw heat produced by the engine or the inverters, or warm it by an electrical system. In both cases, it is less power available to drive. In addition, so as not to damage its battery during a “cold” charging, the car also automatically limits the energy recovery system by braking, which reduces the normal range. On a Tesla, this system is even deactivated below 0 ° C. Finally, the heating of the passenger compartment also pumps electricity into the battery. In total, we travel between 20% and 30% less kilometers for the same load in cold weather.

Even when stopped, the battery continues to empty when parking his car cold.

**How to preserve the autonomy of his electric car?**

To be certain of not breaking down, it is necessary to redouble precaution.

Make sure you always have a minimum charge of 20%, the reserve needed to warm the battery enough at startup. Be careful if your car is parked outside: the system keeps the battery warm even when stopped to allow it to restart. Allow about one kilometer of loss of autonomy per hour for one night at 0 ° C.

Recharge the battery preferably one hour before departure to take advantage of the heat of the charging system. When the car is still connected, take the opportunity to pre-condition the battery by heating it from the inside, an option offered by some manufacturers like Tesla. During the journey, prefer the heating of the seats to the heating of the cabin, which makes lose less energy.

In the long term, manufacturers are working on solid electrolyte batteries, with a much wider operating temperature range (from -20 ° C to +100 ° C).

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