How EV HVAC Use Impacts Range Much More Than Extreme Temps


AAA recently jumped on the “EVs are bad in winter” bandwagon and painted a pretty horrible picture with its headline.

Yes, EVs lose range in winter. Yes, all cars (regardless of powertrain) are impacted by extreme temps (cold and hot). Yes, electric cars tend to take a more obvious hit. We’ve said all of this time and time again. There’s no hiding the reality.

However, multiple headlines about how EV range loss is greater than 50 percent in cold weather and people can barely even drive their EVs, etc. etc. are a bit of a stretch. After AAA published its recent article, a whole slow of mainstream media used it as fuel to convince the public that electric vehicles are just about plain useless this time of year.

Even AAA’s own article is entitled, “Icy Temperatures Cut Electric Vehicle Range Nearly in Half.” Then the subhead reads, “AAA research finds HVAC use in frigid temperatures causes substantial drop in electric vehicle range.”

According to AAA’s research, outside temps below 20°F can decrease electric car range by an average of 41 percent (as long as the HVAC system is turned on and heating the car). Of course, it only makes sense the people would use their cabin heat in the winter. But there’s more to the story here. The HVAC system is a significant part of the range loss equation. With the ability to precondition the cabin in most EVs, plus the advent of heated seats and heated steering wheels, drivers may not necessarily have to crank their heat up significantly for the entire drive time to match AAA’s worst-case results.

The organization tested five all-electric vehicles: the Tesla Model S, Nissan LEAF, Chevrolet Bolt EV, BMW i3, and VW e-Golf. Range consumption was compared with outside temps at 20°F, 75°F and 95°F. As originally shared by Green Car Congress, AAA concluded that the hot and cold temps only had a “modest” impact on range until the HVAC system was used:

On average, an ambient temperature of 20°F resulted in a 12 percent decrease of combined driving range and a 9 percent decrease of combined equivalent fuel economy (when compared to testing conducted at 75°F).

On average, an ambient temperature of 95°F resulted in a 4 percent decrease of combined driving range and a 5 percent decrease of combined equivalent fuel economy (when compared to testing conducted at 75°F).

On average, HVAC use at 20°F resulted in a 41 percent decrease of combined driving range and a 39 percent decrease of combined equivalent fuel economy (when compared to testing conducted at 75°F).

On average, an ambient temperature of 95°F resulted in a 17 percent decrease of combined driving range and an 18 percent decrease of combined equivalent fuel economy (when compared to testing conducted at 75°F).

The most interesting part is that, according to the EPA, “in city driving, traditional vehicles can suffer from 12 percent or greater loss in cold weather.” While the key here is city driving, this shows that AAA’s study proves that cold weather alone doesn’t impact EVs significantly more.

As we’ve previously reported on a number of occasions, it’s important for new EV owners to understand their vehicles and take the proper steps to help reduce the impact of cold weather and HVAC use. Much the same, owners of gas-powered cars must plan ahead to assure that their vehicles will successfully start in cold weather and not overheat in extreme heat.

Source: Green Car Congress

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109 Comments on "How EV HVAC Use Impacts Range Much More Than Extreme Temps"

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My personal experience is a significant reduction of range. Hell in just 2 hours of my model 3 completing charging i lost 19km of range! Honestly my consumption has doubled from the summer. I totally expected this and am not complaining. This isn’t FUD. I understand this is the Tesla Fanboy website (im a self appointed fanboy too), but not every negative story about Tesla and EVs are FUD. I would absolutely call 41% close to 50%. To each their own i guess but come on people. This is an “issue” for many many people. The mass market expects a similar experience to what they have become accustomed to with ICE vehicles. Im sorry, but i have never owned an ICE vehicle that effectively had a leaky fuel tank, by design. Everyone here is right. 99% of the population does not need the 500km range. But that means that this (cold-gate??) “Issue”, affects a large group. If we are all doing relatively short trips, then the percieved range loss is more than those who try to do a Bjorn Nyland range test all in one go. When you fill your gas tank then take your car home, does it lose… Read more »

Up to 50% less range? Wow. I would have thought that it would be less with a 3. But it does make sense if the temps are below 15 degrees, I guess.
I drive a 2013 Volt and though it is rated for 38 miles of AER, but 9 months of the year I get between 42 and 44 miles, say 43 miles on average. During the winter my AER takes a hit, but only on days that are below 40 degrees and the worst reductions don’t happen until the temps go below 25 degrees. I get around 32 miles of AER at 35 degrees and around 25 miles at 20 degrees so my worst case is a 42% reduction from my summer highs and I use the heat up to #4 Eco most of the time and hit the afterburner and turn on the full heat when it gets closer to 15 degrees. But I don’t know what my winter AER is under 15 degrees because the 3 or 4 times a year I see those temps my gas genset kicks in.

Boy you’re lucky. My 2012 Volt is getting 23 miles (highway) no matter what I do with HVAC (I do precondition which is probably why)

I would have thought I’d do better than that. Mileage is only 32mpg on gas for me too. Not sure why.

Do you use heat on high? I use heat on Eco most of the time and it makes a huge difference. I use #2 a lot, and don’t go higher than Eco 4 very often. I don’t get the cabin heated up to 80 degrees but it does get up to 55 degrees or so and I am wearing a jacket so that seems pretty comfortable and the windows get defrosted. And my AER is pretty decent though not great.

In my Model 3 I have never seen more than 22% range reduction. Ive been driving on days that the high never got above 15 F, and around 22% was the most I’ve seen. I do preheat the battery and the cabin prior to driving.

From a physics point of view, your pre-heating is also part of the energy use equation. Just as one wouldn’t omit counting the portion of gas burned to warm up an ICE in the driveway when figuring daily mpg’s.

Preconditioning heats up the battery, and you can just do that if you want. And you’ll get 4 miles per kWh instead of 3 m/kWh. This way that battery warning heat isn’t waste at all, it all comes back to you with more efficient driving.

Yes, it is part of the energy equation. But electricity is damn cheap and that will barely change the operating costs.

The range is FAR more important. If you lose a LOT of range, it will be hard to do long distance driving in the cold. The preheating while connected to a charger is a VERY SMART thing to do if you need the range.

Yup but more so for BEV’s as PHEV’s can turn on nearly instant heat if desired.

You’re right. Though range loss is the main topic.

Most new cars factor that in

I use a BMW i3 60Ah so a very old version , during spring summer my average autonomy is aroud 130/140 Km , in winter woth temperature below 0 it goes around 110 limiting the heating. I saw i have lost 10/15% for temperature and the remaing for HVAC . This was totally expected !

Do you have a charger at home? If so, why not keep it on the charger at night? The car will then heat up the battery if it thinks it’s too cold. And you can use the app to heat the cabin as well. Warm battery + prewarmed cabin = minimal range loss.

Running a car all night on electricity to save some range the next day is simply robbing Peter to pay Paul in terms of efficiency. Unless you’re skating on thin ice in terms of daily EV range (pun intended), the main benefit is a warm, toasty interior in the morning. I like that part!

Wrong, fotomoto. Learn before speaking…… when you have an EV, you leave it plugged in when not driving. It is not “running”. When it is plugged in, a charge before leaving warms the battery. Prewarming the cabin uses shore power (leaving your range intact) and takes maybe 5 minutes.

Sorry but ignoring that energy use (warming the battery, the interior, or both) during pre-conditioning is just plain ignorance on your part. As I said above, that’s the equivalent of not counting the gas burned while warming an ICE up in the driveway when calculating one’s driving MPG’s.

BTW, I’ve owned two plug-ins and have enjoyed the benefits of pre-conditioning for over 6 years now.

The difference is the pre-conditioning will use the grid electricity while the warming up of the gas engine uses the gas that’s in the tank.

Pre-conditioning while plugged in helps reduce the range lost while driving due to heating the battery and the cabin. Range lost is THE topic of this article, not total electricity used.

So, an EV owner can take steps to reduce range lost due to cold, or they can go with the worse case (AAA) and start driving with a cold battery/cabin.

Pre-conditioning is no big deal.

The cost/energy difference is trivial. Range is far more of an issue.

That is hard to do, still, in most workplace parking, without EV Charging, of at least 240V x 20A, I bet. But, cold weather, in my mind, does not get the term ‘Cold’ in the Winter, until it is down to at least -10C, or about 14F! In our last few weeks of -20C weather, my 2010 ICE Kia Soul 2U got about 115 Kms, on about 26 Litres, or over half a Tank, at a cost of $24.00! Lots of Snow Removal while idling, including a 20 minute stint once, at work, after Drilling my Right Hand Index Finger, and going to Emergency at the local hospital (by Taxi, from and back to, work!), To de-ice the Windshield! So, it seems this is not really restricted to EV’s, as a problem! But folks don’t pay attention, in ICE Vehicles, for the most part, since Gas Stations are easy to find, seldom (but not “Never!”) out of fuel, and quick to refill! Pollution? Most folk don’t even think about that issue! Global Warming? In the Winter? Last thing on their mind! So, yup! This will be an “EV Issue”, until Infrastructure at Homes, Work, Condo’s, Apartments, Malls, Rest Area’s, Service… Read more »

230 km range and 5 minute at the pump of numerous gas stations sounds far more attractive if you have a 460 km drive ahead of you. Than having to take a 30 minute break while constantly looking for a charger due to crazy low range.

If 200kw batteries like in the new roadster becomes the standard, then range issues become less of a hurdle. But seems Tesla is not planning on that, and certainly not the competition.

Yes, if all car use is just going to the local mall, then range is never an issue 🙂 Otherwise ICE backup is needed for people living with real winters. 14F and below is to be expected in Norway and parts of the US.

And how often do most people have a 460km drive in front of them?

You conveniently left out how the EV driver avoids the gas pump 30-50 times a year to compensate.

On top of that, if it’s 10F and windy, 5 minutes at the gas station is much more uncomfortable than 20 minutes sitting inside a warm EV.

No, I don’t have the 50% experience you have with my S 90D in Switzerland. We have cold winters too.

If it’s 0 degF or less, then yes, 50% loss can happen. But the problem is that this study was done at 20 degF, which isn’t that cold.

If you go through their numbers, HVAC alone is using over 4kW of power, which is obscene. They must’ve cranked it up to the point that you’d be sweltering in your jacket.

After the initial blast of heat, I see HVAC consumption of around 1kW at 20F, and 2-3kW at -10F. If I use recirculation (until fog starts appearing), it goes down even more.

Perhaps if you took some methods to avoid losing energy, you would have better range. Of course, we don’t really know what you do to change your consumption, or what temperature you are driving in. Do you garage your car? Do you pre-heat the interior while plugged in? Do you heat your EV at 75F? Do you only take short trips?

All of these things make a great difference on range of any EV. On the one hand, you say you are not upset by your energy consumption, but on the other hand you make much of this “issue” without providing any facts. What is your intention? To complain for the “masses” without providing one data point?

What facts would you like me to provide?

I put the word (issue) in quotations because i personally dont see it as an issue as i knew what i was getting in to. But the general public and media DO see it as an issue.

What sets of data points would you like for me to provide. I am happy and willing to share my experiences with everyone!

Here is some info* I not debating the differences in efficiency from long range travel vs daily commuting. My personal experience with long distance (338km round trip with 111km left after a 100% charge – preheated while plugged in at about -4C), is MUCH better than the ~41% range loss that AAA is mentioning. EV’s can be still quite efficient for long distance I AGREE WITH YOU. I’m just pointing out that there are situations where the AAA report IS accurate. Example from today for me; Charged to 90% (447km) completed at 2:30am Began preheating car to 20.5C at 1:27pm and car showed 421km (car is parked outside and was still plugged in even after 2:30am) Left with 415km at 1:35pm Work is 7km away round trip (chill mode on and temp at 20.5C) outside temp around -5C (arrived at work at 1:45pm) – wife shuttling me Finished work and car drove 8.6km round trip (again wife shuttle service) and arrived home with 360km of range. So my car physically drove 15.6km today, but the car used/ lost 87km worth of range. Am I concerned.. no, because I still have ample range to do this for several more days. But… Read more »

I’ve never seen anything with losses that high in our Model 3. Although we haven’t had temperatures below 20 F. But I will minimally preheat the cabin and then use the seat heaters which are much better than the ones in our Volt and our old i3. With the seat heaters on high and occasionally toggling the cabin heat on and off at like 68 F I am usually toasty and don’t see terrible range loss.

My drop in an BMW i3 has been 28%, after pre-conditioning, and heat on 72F.
What did AAA put their heat on? 100F?

The AAA tester is probably the issue. Bringing ICE behavior to an EV.
-In EV’s the electric heat WORKS. Electric heat comes on in about a minute and at the temperature you set: 68F or 72F.
But, a gas engine can take 20 MINUTES or more to heat up to operating temperature, giving you No Heat for that amount of time, so most people set their heat to MAX and only turn it down when they start to sweat.

So, how did AAA test?

20 minutes? Plenty of ICE cars take a lot less than that to heat up.

There is no one result, all vehicles are different. An EV can use up 40% of it’s range or it doesn’t. An ICE can take 20 minutes (which one?) to heat up, or be blasting warm air out after 3 minutes.

With climate control it matters little as the car usualy controls the heating system in both vehicles.

It’s no surprise that AAA is critical of EVs. AAA has a vested interest in ICE vehicles. There is very little need to AAA with a Tesla, you can’t run out of gas and you can’t get locked out of your car.

EVs are a threat to AAA’s business.

Cold is a justifiable concern with EVs that needs to be improved for wide spread adoption.

My 2015 i3 REx gets as bad as 30 mile range in winter and as good as 100 mile range in summer. I always recommend people buy an EV with a range of 3x to 4x their commute distance between charging opportunities for this reason. My gas cars were typically less variability, if it got 25 mpg average, it maybe varied 20 to 35 mpg. Only 20% worse in winter instead of 50%.

You need a real EV…..

What is that supposed to mean? The reason I drive PHEVs right now is for gas range in cold weather and long distance travel. A Model 3 could work for me, but both my PHEVs cost about the same as 1 Model 3 since I got the i3 used.

“30 mile range in winter” I believe that´s real winter and not 20F?

Correct, -24 F 😉

Agreed. This is what people should understand first and foremost …. and then they should learn how cold weather affects their range.

But that’s not what most people do these days, sadly.

No, but EV’s can run out of electricity, and you can get locked out of an EV… What an odd statement to make.

It’s a car, they will still be needed.

And don’t forget possibly the #1 need for AAA: flat tires.

Given that few (if any) EVs come with spare tires, AAA is certainly not going to be hurting for business in our electric future.

Thanks for that, this has been my experience as well, that HVAC effects range.

Had to drive my 2018 Leaf during the recent Polar Vortex, -20°F/-29°C closer to -40°F/-40°C (yes, -40 is where Celsius equals Fahrenheit) with windchill, 35 miles cost 70% of battery. I was only able to charge it to 50% before I had to drive back, without heat, it was very cold… (used about 35% of battery). It was supposed to have about 100 miles of range with Heat on, so loss of around 70%.

Wind chill doesn’t affect machinery. It’s -30, not -40.

Wind chill is a measure of how how the temperature and wind combine to affect EXPOSED skin, so even with a T-Shirt on wind chill is pretty irrelevant to most of your body, let alone a car.

AAA gets a lot of its funding from big oil – it’s a group designed to promote driving. I’m suspicious about how biased the research that went this might have been. Not that the range is definitely diminished, but their reports are far worse than my experience.

What kind of climate do you live in? I see less than 50% of EPA range on cold winter days and up to 50% better than EPA in the summer, huge variation such that my min range to max range ratio is about 3x. For my gas cars it is more like 1.5x in same driving conditions.

Chicago. I’ve never driven an ICE that’s varied more than 20% up or down, and I’ve tracked my consumption nearly 20 years on fuelly.

Here’s my EV data. 54 miles in sub 0 temps at 54% efficiency is pretty darned good, IMHO.

Temp Efficiency % Miles Recorded
-5 to 0 F 53.1 53.93
0 to 5 F 54.4 13.68
5 to 10 F 56.3 122.93
10 to 15 F 62.9 205.15
15 to 20 F 60.9 118.32
20 to 25 F 67.5 229.52
25 to 30 F 64.2 467.66
30 to 35 F 72.7 1097.28
35 to 40 F 74.9 791
40 to 45 F 77.1 1027.36
45 to 50 F 87.3 622.03
50 to 55 F 85.2 651.53
55 to 60 F 89.5 374.8
60 to 65 F 91.9 141.87
65 to 70 F 94.6 59.47
70 to 75 F 97.5 14.18
75 to 80 F 107.2 43.1
80 to 85 F 95.2 37.45

“AAA gets a lot of its funding from big oil – it’s a group designed to promote driving.”

I gotta call BS conspiracy theory on that claim.

AAA is made up local regional clubs/organizations that get their funding from annual membership fees.

HVAC range reduction depends on your speed. At lower speed, HVAC takes bigger portion of overall power, highway speed less. For example, if you’re going 12 MPH (average freeway speed in Los Angeles), car may use 2 kW for propulsion while using 6 kW for heating (75%). But 65 MPH (16 kW) would represent 27% for full 6 kW blast heat.

Also, I would worry more about rapid charging speed, instead of range loss, at least on trips where I am going far enough for the range loss to actually matter anyways.
And of course, if you have home charging ability, then charging at home can negate some of the range loss anyways, since you can pre-condition the cabin temperature and not consume 6.5kW just running the heater and running down battery range.

Also, I think some EV’s have a battery heater, if so, charging at home helps even more, since if the battery is already at a reasonable temperature, range loss will be less(warmer battery can store more energy), and DCFC will charge faster as well.

If he’s going over 50 the battery will warm up to take the highest charging rate available.

Also depending on which EV you own there is no reason to be using 6 kW for heating unless you are a small minority that lives where the polar vortex generated -40 temps which in itself was rare. In average below freezing temps wearing appropriate winter clothing and using the seat heaters and steering wheel heater if you have one requires very little energy. Then just having heat on the windshield set in the 60s is enough to keep the cabin comfortable and the windshield clear. This way you are using like around 3kW.

It’s not like asking someone to use corncobs for toilet paper or asking them to live in a hay bale house with no tv. Just keep your coat on in the car instead of striping down to your shorts and blasting the heat at 78 F. There will always be those people though that will compile a list of little things like this to argue why EVs aren’t practical.

I’m using 6 kW as worst case example since that’s about the maximum I saw. For longer drive, average would be less, or lot less depending on ambient temperature and how “well done” you want the humans in the cabin cooked.

And if you have a couple of infants in the back?

The only EV I’ve driven so far is a Tesla Model X, 75D that I happened to rent on a private car rental ap for one very cold weekend last month. I used it to go visit someone that I visit every weekend – a round trip of about 200 miles. Looking to the future, I had already installed a 240V outlet in my garage and used it to precondition the X – the same garage my gas car would have been in. All in all, I climbed into a warm, comfy car that Sunday morning, even though it was 15 to 20 degrees (F) outside. The X handled the 180 or so miles well against its rated 225 or so miles. We used the seat heaters and moderate cabin heat. The teenager I was with hates too much car heat anyhow, even in my usual vehicle. We did hit up a Supercharger for a partial charge, but that stop was near where we often stop for lunch anyhow and I think that the car could have done the 180ish miles without that charge stop anyways. Even my regular car, a Ford Ranger, only does about 250 miles on a… Read more »
Another Euro point of view

Just fit those EVs with Webasto type of heater and be done with this issue. How can that be so complicated. This is becoming a bit ridiculous.

Having just taken a quick look, what is it that makes a Webasto heater more efficient? Is it a heat pump? Even heat pumps lose efficiency below a certain temperature. (That said, until you get that cold, it’s still going to be more efficient than resistive heating elements).

No matter what, though, you’re still likely going to be drawing a few hundred watts in a cold winter day.

It burns diesel

Or gasoline or ethanol…

Or maybe, Gas. But a Fuel, in any case!

Still, possibly a practical solution, for ambient temps when below Freezing, even to heat Battery Coolant, to warm the battery, as well as cabin heat.

Well, one way to solve the heating problem of an ‘s’ is to put it in a heated garage, as one tesla owner here did who built a 2 – car garage with a raised ‘showroom floor’ for his roadster and “S”. There is a 100,000 Btu/hour gas-fired boiler in the back room

Since both cars are kept at a constant 70 degrees F during the coldest winter months, they use less electricity since no warming of the battery is needed.

I told him, ” You probably hold the record for the most Natural Gas usage by any Tesla!”.

Do Not Read Between The Lines

Plug-in sales are better in milder climates anyway, low-temperature heat pumps would do the job for most use cases, while also being more efficient, so it probably won’t be until the market grows significantly that the edge cases are addressed.

Personally, I’d like to see ethanol heaters as a solution in severely cold locations..

Well, just like Diesels use ‘Add Blue’s, an EV could use a small tank of 4-8 litres of Fuel, to run a fueled Heater, for Extreme Cold Weather heating needs! Not more than a few dozen days like that, anyway, for most population that uses vehicles, instead of Sled dogs!

It seems a decent compromise, just like, carrying a Spare Tire, buying Car Insurance, or having an Emergency Kit, in the car, in Winter!

Did the study take into account that some cars, like my Leaf, have a heat pump that greatly reduces HVAC energy consumption in moderately cold conditions? If they left that detail out, it’s certain proof they were slanting the piece or were absurdly inept.

I think that difference is worth an article on its own.
What cars have heat pumps and what don’t and why don’t they.

How about it insideev’s?

The BMW i3 REX has an electric heat element, that heats up in about a minute. I’m not giving that up for a heat pump.

The Prius Prime has an advanced “vapor injected” heat pump that expands its effective operating range to lower temperatures than a standard heat pump. It’s one thing that Toyota got right on its much maligned Prius Prime EV.

I agree that the heat pump issue should have been mentioned. My Volt has no such device, but I know enough that LEAF’s with them fare better in cold(but not bitterly cold)weather. Same thing goes for heated seats and heated steering wheel, all EVs should have them by default. Again, my Volt(bas)does not and I have decided that when I do trade in my 2012 Volt for a Bolt EV, it will need to include heated seats and steering wheel. MY winter numbers are almost exactly what Ziv’s are, so I can attest that they are legitimate.

I live in South Central Alaska (close to Anchorage) and my old Jeeps mpg drops from 15 to 10 when temperatures go from 60sF (we almost never get 75F) to 20F. It gets worse if I want to “precondition” in the colder weather so it is warm and toasty as I drive off.
I could see an upside with EV’s and cold temperatures. When it hits -20F my Jeep really don’t want to start and at -40F it flat out won’t start.

It is not just the -40F that is the problem, it is the number of hours it has cold soaked, if the Wind is blowing Colder, rapidly sucking the heat away from the last run, and, if the Jeep had an opportunity to use a Block Heater, and a Battery Blanket Battery Heater.

Even in outside parking, having a heated Battery, and a Block heater in use, can make a big difference!

” my old Jeeps”

That is the problem.

How many “old Tesla” or “old LEAF” or “old Bolt” would work well at -40F?

Well the worst case scenario with my previous Leaf as well as current one is a loss of 40% from the best summer conditions. It is what it is. The 40kwh Leaf has enough capacity that I’m still able to use it for pretty well everything. I’m hoping that the charging infrastructure will continue to grow as the battery’s SOH starts to decline. My use is a small business service vehicle mostly within 40km of the home base but sometimes well over 200. I just get in and go no matter how cold. And I have defrosting within 2 minutes. Works for me!

In cold weather, I make sure to definitely use the heated seats and heated steering wheel and set the cabin temp to automatic at 68deg F (2017 Bolt EV)…that temp is very comfortable and the heat coming from the seats & steering wheel are getting the cabin close (or at least much closer) to that temperature so the HVAC system doesn’t work as hard to keep that temp while keeping the windows deiced/defogged very well. The more the HVAC system has to work then the more negative effect on range…especially if the vehicle is doing mostly very short (1 to 3 mile) trips in very cold weather, without the vehicle being preconditioned for a couple of minutes while plugged in, and the HVAC inside temp cranked to 75deg F or higher. This type of HVAC use will definitely severely cut into indicated range. EV owners need to keep a few little things in mind for cold wx driving…the biggest energy/range zapper is going to be setting the cabin temp too high or leaving max defrost on for more than a few minutes (use the max defrost when necessary to clear windows but set back to automatic control asap). In very… Read more »

Do any EVs do partial cabin air recirculation? Or are cars already doing it by default?

The choice is yours if you have a Tesla

It’s just an on/off button. Can you elaborate?

Batteries don’t like cold, liion are good compared with other types but they also suffer.
ICE are very inefficient by nature, while working at low temperatures it’s even worse, so they also suffer but for long distances it’s basically irrelevant as the first 5 minutes or so are not important.
Range is mainly a concern in long trips, except for maybe taxis and a few more rare use cases “nobody” will do many miles per day around the town. So cold cause an important impact in EVs.
What “ruins” EVs is that on top of “less” battery, extra energy must be sucked from the batteries to heat the car. ICE cars waste so many energy that requires no extra consumption to heat the car, the wasted heat is so big that even so, a lot of energy is still thrown away.

I was gonna say, I can finally agree with you, except for the part …. “Range is mainly a concern in long trips, except for maybe taxis and a few more rare use cases “nobody” will do many miles per day around the town. So cold cause an important impact in EVs.”

Most drive cases are short commutes (Worldwide, Europewide or Stateswide) … so the range affect is no issue for most people who use their car this way. Perhaps you wanted to say that cold ambient has an important affect for the people who drive more than 60 miles or so a day? Which is minority of cases and yes those people will have to wait for better fast charging infrastructure where they live/drive or larger battery with better cold performance. The rest, read most, of us, can just chug along, regardless what AAA, CAA or BBB etc. says, no?

I think one of the things I am looking forward to about EVs and winter is preheating and then keeping the heat on while popping in and out of the car doing numerous short errands. I find in ICE cars (or pickup in my case) that it that kind of use subjects me to a freeze, thaw, freeze, thaw experience. Yes, the engine never really cools down much in between trips, but the cabin more or less does and without a remote starter, I have to get into a more or less cold cabin over and over, maybe having to scrape a bit of the windshield too if it’s snowing like today. With preheat and/or remote heat, I can just keep the car warm. Of course this uses a fair amount of charge, but if I’m only going 30 or 40 miles tops, and then home and plugged in again, well? That’s no problem.

We need to stop pretending the average person wants to use low heat settings. ICE cars might get less mpg in the winter due to air density, but they produce an abundance of heat. And EVs have to deal with air density and generate heat. My wife and daughter get into my Bolt EV and turn the temperature to 75 degrees and have seat heat on. I rarely use steering wheel heat, but it’s also at 75 degrees inside. That said our house sits at 75 degrees year around in Ohio. Maybe it’s a cultural thing, but my family dies at anything below 72. My wife use to laugh at me when I had the Volt and used the eco heat setting – “that’s play heat”.

Just keep your jacket or hoodie on. 75 sounds kind of spoiled to me. For example most of the time I just turn the temperature to around 65/66F (18-19C). I hate it when it’s to warm and if i can safe a little energy the better. I also do it like that at home. Just 19C (66F) and i‘m good to go. For every Celsius you go down at home you can safe up to 6% in energy. Good for the environment and my bill.

In your example we save a lot more in utility cost in the summer with the air set to 75F, but more in gas in the winter.

Does your house leak so much air that drafts are the actual problem?
My house is well sealed and very comfortable at 68F.

But, when I bought it, the bottom 2 feet of air space near the floor were always cold, and touching the radiator would burn your hand. I enclosed the crawl space, added attic insulation, and basement insulation to cut the air flow and put in double pane windows, air flow down by 65%. And radiators rarely get hot to the touch in winter. Instead of pumping 180 degree water thru the system, the boiler only needs to heat water to 150 degrees. So, now I have a 30 degree cushion for really bad weather.

In the BMW i3 72F heat setting is very comfortable.

Okay, to each his or her own, but by the time my house gets over 73, I’m reaching for the air conditioning. 🙂

Isn’t AAA only good for towing, Triptik or a map? …. just like CAA is. Who really takes seriously their technically oriented opinion? Honest question, because ….. I don’t know anyone.

Here are some well cited bits about what AAA does:

Essentially whatever it takes to get people to drive with as little repercussions as possible is what AAA works towards. Bikes and trains and pollution controls are its competitors so it works against them in favor of automobiles.

Yes, heated cabins are a bonus result of inefficiencies of the ICE. EVs have to consider other options including all heated seats, heated steering, clothing and more. For me, if we get a solution to warming feet I am pretty much satisfied. Still looking for some type of induction inserts for shoes. Your feet are surprisingly contained to a standard space so the required coil area in the floorboard is pretty known. Warm hands, feet, back, and bottom from electricity and clothing for the rest will do. We might even find ourselves using heated clothing in the future to lower the conditioning of dwellings. We are creatures of habit and this change doesn’t come easy. I mean our comfort is a lot more important than conserving energy anyway. /s

When I run at 65 degrees for HVAC, I probably save 30-50 Wh/mi vs setting it to 72 degrees (F). I crank the heated seats, which use far less energy. In the winter I have a coat on, never am cold in the car. I think ICE drivers are used to cranking it to 80 and not noticing a thing cause their engine has copious amounts of wasted heat.

I didn’t spend $56,000 for my Model 3 with the expectation of making sacrifices such as preheating the car and using the heated seats instead of the heater. AAA’s study was completely valid. I’m not necessarily complaining about the range loss in winter since it’s a characteristic of all EVs, however I do think Tesla has room for improvement on the so-called “phantom” or “vampire” drain. I’ve witnessed 2% losses per day parked in moderately cold temperatures, but also losses at hot temperature and everything in between. In comparison, my Fiat 500e never lost any charge while parked.

I get what you are saying about not *having* to preheat before you plug in, but it’s something I will very much enjoy with an EV – getting into an already warm car.

Well Snotty, you didn’t state where you live… After all, there is cold and then there is COLD (such as where I am). The colder it gets outside the more Teslas seem to be put at a disadvantage since the Teslas (with the exception of the first Roadster) – seem to want to maintain comfortable battery temperatures 24/7/365.

So the COLDER it is outside the WORSE the tesla is going to look – Broder – while at the motel overnight in 5 to 10 degree F weather (with a Warmed up Tesla to start with), drew an average 1840 watts the entire time he was sleeping, as I calculated by using Tesla’s logs of the trip – the vast majority of the juice used to keep its battery comfortable.

I’d like to see someone else test this. I’m a bit skeptical that the energy needed to heat a small cabin is much more significant than the energy to drive thousands of pounds of metal.

Depends on where you live. My Bolt ev, with its resistance heat – (both for cabin and battery) use more juice than the rest of the car – such that in the coldest weather my range is less than 100 miles, sometimes much less, and that is with 55-60 degrees in the cabin, a brisk environment.. And it has nothing to do with the battery capacity decreasing since the battery is kept up to its optimal temperature.

My Leaf uses 5kw to heat if I turn-on Defrost. Using 5kw constant consumption for heat as one example:

If you are driving at 85 mph for an hour, consuming 0.4 kwhrs per mile for propulsion(*), then in one hour you’d spend 34 kw-hrs on driving and 5 on heating (13% of energy consumption spent on heat). The high driving speed uses lots of energy for travel, and the short time per-mile uses less energy per-mile for heat.

But if you’re driving a constant 45 mph for an hour, consuming 0.1818 kw-hrs per mile, then you’d use 8.18 kw-hrs on driving and 5 on heat (38% of energy going to heat). That’s almost triple the “percent” used when driving 85mph. A stop-and-go city driver will have an even more lopsided loss (45%+?).

Freeway vs Highway vs City vs Stop-&-Go drivers will have very different experiences with EV range reduction. The slower you drive, the bigger the percent loss in range: is range loss 13% or 50%? Trying to describe range loss in percent is pretty meaningless.

((*)energy consumption estimates taken from Tony Williams range chart)

And this is why we need a heated steering wheel for the Model 3.

I think this is one of the reasons GM did a survey on insulated packs and radiant floor/ceiling heat. It coulx help a lot with maintaining pack temperature and warmth in the cabin.

Not mentioned in the article is the “efficiency” of using a battery while parked in winter. Police and any service vehicles with people inside must leave the engine running when temps are below 50F or above 75F to stay comfortable. A typical Uber Prius driver can burn 0.4 gal. gas per hour waiting for a passenger at -10F, while only using 1 gal. per hour while driving around at 40mph. So idling can use 40% as much fuel per hour as driving… how’s that for winter ICE inefficiency?

In contrast, I have found an EV to be excellent as a “road warrior mobile office,” winter or summer. I can sit in the passenger seat typing on a laptop and be on phone calls for hours, with no need to fire up an engine just to stay comfortable. I believe that the fleet-wide efficiency gains for service vehicles would be huge in winter, if they switch from ICE to EV.

While that is true I think it’s an issue with people being inefficient. There’s no reason an ICE needs to be on constantly, any more than an EV heater. If i’m sat in a car for extended periods in cold weather I’ll turn the car on for 5 minutes, blast some heat and then turn it off for another 15-20, then repeat if needed.

Those people leaving their engines on for hours at a time, or remote starting their vehicles 20 minutes ahead of time will likely be the ones using significantly more energy with EV’s too.

That is not what is being discussed here. Most ev drivers in the very cold use only enough heat to keep the windows from icing up.

Huge flaw and lacking information, is what setting were they using for the HVAC? Were they cranking it up all the way?

Hearing this about AAA doesn’t surprise me. Here in Oregon our legislature passed a cash rebate for EV buyers a couple of years ago. AAA filed suit and got the rebate delayed for over a year until the judge threw the lawsuit out. Since EVs rarely break down, I guess they a threat to AAAs business model.

And of course that raving, troll-like army of anti-EV, pro-ICE(combustion variety) attack-dogs never join the obvious cause-effect dots between “extreme weather” and the CO2-belching fossil-fuelled vehicles that are precipitating that “extreme weather” – a term that they and most of ‘ our media love to use in order to avoid uttering “dirty words” like climate change and environment.
Sadly most of our leading EV websites likewise refuse to join those (should-be) self-evident cause-effect dots..
Paul G

And of course noone is reminding audiences of the following two recent cabin and battery-heating tech-advances :
1) the EU-funded Maxitherm heater-tech that reduces a car’s HVAC energy use by 30%.
2) Penn State’s relatively simple self-heating-battery technology
Two links to jog your memories:
Paul G

You have to look at AAA’s testing methodology. The full report is on their website and shows a lot of details. They use a mix of EPA testing cycles… however, it appears they put in a 4 hour pre soak before the whole test, which is fine, but also put in a 10 minute delay before the US06 testing. Furthermore. while they do run a 65 mph CSC test, they don’t seem to use it in their comparisons. Instead, they run the UDDS and HWET cycle, then 10 minute break, and then UDDS and US06. So basically, this doesn’t replicate doing highway runs between DCFC points where range matters most. Instead, this is like commuting into town and back in traffic. Plenty of slow, city or suburban like driving, then a short stint on the highway, then drive around a city, then 10 minute wait while stopped somewhere, and come back through the city and hop on the highway with less traffic, but then plenty of driving around the local suburb. No wonder HVAC dominates. While interesting, this mostly looks at what a daily routine might be living in the suburbs and committing downtown. Most long range BEVs have more… Read more »

Heat pump or resistive?

Heat pump or resistive

It might be blasphemy, but a diesel parking heater like an “Esparbcaher” is great solution. Hydronic one could heat up the battery too. 1 gallon of fuel would easily last 10+ hours of driving. 37KWH of heat. I guess you could use a biofuel in it (with good cold characteristics terps or d-limonene). Heat from fuel is 80%+ efficient, unlike motion. I bought one for my RAV4 EV, (not installed yet) which drops down to like 65 miles (Denver 5F) of range even on eco high HVAC, which isn’t usable if it’s actively snowing or kids in the back seat. Part of that is the design, the battery coolant always goes through the radiator so even though the fans are off the ram air cools the battery and the battery heater comes on. It’s a great EV but in some respects it’s thrown together… I go between wanting to improve the RAV4 EV, and just saving up for a future Tesla M3 or Y. Cold climate buy the big battery!

That is a pretty ‘efficient’ diesel heater. There are only 41 kwh of energy in a single 128 oz (US) gallon of diesel.

I see that pic, and all I can think is, “got milk?” 😀

Cabin heat is just one of those things they never planned for in California.