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Electric Cars Won't Run as Efficiently in Cold Weather

By January 23, 2013

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Cold weather is likely to take a bit of toll on the efficiency of your electric car. If you've ever noticed your cell phone battery draining faster when it is exposed to the cold for an extended period, you have seen the impact temperature can have on battery-dependent devices. The same holds true for your Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt or other electric car.

The doesn't mean you have to limit driving your electric car to warm weather months or move south. But don't expect your vehicle to go as far on a single charge in January as it does in June.

While a new Volt can usually drive about 40 miles on a single battery charge before its gas-powered generator kicks in, during cold weather, additional energy is being used to warm the cabin and battery, so you can expect that range to noticeably decline. Nissan boasts a 138-mile range when conditions are ideal, but that number can drop to about 62 miles, according to the automaker's website, in cold temperatures and stop-and-go traffic.

Not to worry, your electric car isn't going to stop completely just because temps drop to the single digits or worse. But plan to spend a few minutes warming up your car before heading out on a cold morning. You can also leave your car plugged in while it's warming, allowing it to draw electricity directly from your home rather than the battery while getting toasty warm.

January 24, 2013 at 9:09 am
(1) Brian says:

I seem to recall when I was driving the company Volt, it wouldn’t start while it was plugged in? I know its to prevent you from driving off while it plugged in, but can anyone confirm?

January 31, 2013 at 11:19 am
(2) alternativefuels says:

Thanks for your comment. Perhaps you are confusing my advice to allow the vehicle to warm using electric power with turning a hybrid’s gasoline-powered engine on while charging, which is not what I wrote. From the owner manual of the 2013 Chevy Volt: “Use remote start to heat or cool the interior when the vehicle is plugged in to maximize the electric range by utilizing electricity from the electrical outlet.” Most newer hybrids and electric cars allow the vehicle to be pre-heated or pre-conditioned using electric power while still plugged in. I was not referring to gasoline engine power.–Lori Weaver, About.com Guide to Hybrid Cars and Alternative Fuels

February 16, 2013 at 8:25 am
(3) http://www.bioinformatics.org/edu/user/view.php?id=124462&course=1 says:

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