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AAA: Cold weather reduces EV range by nearly 50%

by Ronan Glon

AAA advises EV owners to plan ahead.

AAA has published a study that confirms what motorists who drove an electric car through the polar vortex likely already know: Freezing temperatures reduce an EV's driving range.

AAA's research shows that, on average, the range of an electric car drops by 41 percent when temperatures fall to 20 degrees Fahrenheit (-6 Celsius). It's not that the battery pack can't handle the cold; most modern-day electric cars are capable of keeping their pack within a pre-determined temperature bracket. Range decreases simply because owners turn the heater on full blast to stay warm, according to the study.

The same study concluded electric cars suffer from the heat, too. Driving range drops by 17 percent when it's 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius) outside and motorists use the air conditioning. AAA tested five electric cars with a maximum range of at least 100 miles, but it hasn't revealed the make and model of its test subjects.

AAA advises electric car owners who live in areas with extreme weather to plan ahead, especially during the winter months. Depending on how far they're going, they may need to factor additional stops into their trip, and find the location of charging stations ahead of time so they're not caught off-guard. The association also advises motorists to heat or cool the cabin while their car is still plugged in to avoid draining the battery on-the-go. And, it suggests owners park their electric car in a garage if possible.

"While electric vehicle range performs best in areas with warm weather year-round such as Florida, Hawaii, and California, drivers in other parts of the country shouldn't be discouraged. Owning an electric vehicle in these regions just requires some additional planning," AAA summed up.

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