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How Well Do Electric Vehicles Perform in Our Extreme Weather?

The practicality of electric vehicles is an important issue, especially in a Northern climate. It is well known that cold temperatures impact battery performance, and batteries are the Achilles heel of electric vehicles. The Minneapolis Star Tribune explains some of the problems.

Cold weather degrades the performance of electric vehicles, in part because energy must be diverted to warm the interior of the car. The Strip cites a AAA study that found that even relatively moderate cold (by Minnesota standards) has a severe effect on battery performance:

A recent study by AAA found that electric vehicle owners can expect their driving range to decline by 41% when the mercury dips to 20 degrees. That means for every 100 miles of driving in optimal conditions, the range would drop to 59 miles.

Cold weather causes other problems, too, including a reduction in battery charging efficiency:

A recent study, she said, showed that when an electric vehicle battery was charged at 77 degrees, the battery got to 80% capacity in 30 minutes, but at 32° F, it was only charged to 44% after the same amount of time.

Of course, 32 degrees is downright balmy in Minnesota in January.

Various companies are working on improved battery technologies, which someday might eliminate cold weather as a constraint on electric vehicles. But for the present, EVs are considerably less practical in Minnesota than in warmer climates.