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Cold weather can cut an electric vehicle’s range by 20%, says What Car?

EV battery at low charge with car on road

Cold weather had reduce an electric vehicle’s range by more than 20%, research by What Car? has found.

However, the magazine’s research also suggested an EV fitted with a heat pump significantly improves cold weather efficiency.

Steve Huntingford, editor of What Car?, said: “Range remains one of the key considerations for electric car buyers, but when deciding whether a particular model can go far enough on a charge to fit into your life, it’s important to bear in mind that batteries don’t work as well in cooler conditions.”

The magazine, together with its sister title Move Electric, put cars through a real-world winter range test and then compared the results with those for identically-specced models tested last summer.

In the winter range test, the Porsche Taycan 4S Performance Battery Plus managed 224 miles on a full charge. That’s a 20.1% drop on the 281 miles that the same model on the same-sized wheels achieved when What Car? tested it last summer.

Other models retested included the Ford Mustang Mach-E Extended Range RWD (which fell 18.0% short of its summer figure), the Skoda Enyaq iV 60 (15.7%) and the Fiat 500 42kWh (15.2%).

What Car? and Move Electric also found that if you specify your electric car with a heat pump, drivers were able to get significantly closer to the official WLTP range.

A heat pump reduces strain on the battery by drawing excess heat from the electric drivetrain, distributing it around the interior of the car through the air conditioning. 

Five models so equipped were tested, with these falling short of their official WLTP mileage figures by an average of 25.4%.

By comparison, five models that relied on a regular interior heater suffered an average deficit of 33.6%. 

 The tests were conducted on a closed vehicle proving ground, on a 15-mile route consisting of 2.6 miles of simulated stop-start urban traffic, four miles of steady 50mph driving and eight miles driving at a constant speed of 70mph, to simulate motorway journeys. 

In July last year, What Car? research found EVs fell short of their WLTP range by 14.8%.

 

 

 

Winter vs summer range test results

 

Model

Variant

Usable battery size

Summer range

Winter range

Shortfall

Porsche Taycan

4S Performance Battery Plus

83.7kWh

281 miles

224 miles

20.10%

Ford Mustang Mach-E

Extended Range RWD

88.0kWh

302 miles

247 miles

18.00%

Skoda Enyaq iV

60

58.0kWh

207 miles

174 miles

15.70%

Fiat 500

42kWh Icon

7.3kWh

140 miles

118 miles

15.20%

 

Ranges of cars with and without heat pumps

 

Model

Variant

Usable battery size

Heat pump

Official (WLTP) range

Winter test range

Shortfall

Fiat 500

42kWh Icon

37.3kWh

No

198 miles

118 miles

40.00%

Ford Mustang Mach-E

Extended Range RWD

88.0kWh

No

379 miles

247 miles

34.60%

MG 5

Long Range Exclusive

57.0kWh

No

250 miles

167 miles

33.10%

Audi Q4 e-tron

50 quattro S line

76.6kWh

No

290 miles

201 miles

30.60%

Kia EV6

GT-Line RWD

72.5kWh

Yes

328 miles

228 miles

30.40%

Skoda Enyaq iV

60

58.0kWh

No

249 miles

174 miles

29.80%

Tesla Model Y

Long Range

75.0kWh

Yes

331 miles

247 miles

25.20%

Tesla Model 3

Long Range

75.0kWh

Yes

374 miles

281 miles

24.80%

BMW iX3

M Sport

74.0kWh

Yes

282 miles

212 miles

24.70%

Porsche Taycan

4S Performance battery Plus

83.7kWh

Yes

287 miles

224 miles

21.80%

 

> Interested in comparing electric vehicle data? Check out our EV tool.

> Interested in ensuring the efficient use of EVs. Check out our dedicated editorial sections: Insight & policy | EV news | Charging & infrastructure | Costs & incentives | Benefit-in-kind | EV case studies | EV road tests

> EVs by range

> EVs by their efficiency

> Rapid charging EVs

> EVs by price: lowest to highest

 


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