Temperature affects batteries and an electric car will have shorter range in cold weather. But how much? We set out a bitter cold Nordic winter day in Stockholm to find out.
The first question an owner of any electric car will get is “What it is the range?” and since most people will not accept “It depends” as an answer my standardized reply for the i3 has instead been “at least 100 km (60 mi) but theoretically it should be possible to reach 200 km (120 mi)”. But there could be instances when this is not true.
First of all, to counter rumors about polar bears sighted in Stockholm, it should be said that the average temperature in the Swedish capital during the coldest month is -3 degrees Celsius (27 F). That said, it is not unusual to get at least some days under -10 degrees (14 F). Beginning of this year had some very cold days with temperatures dropping to around -20 (sub zero F). Since we want to use our car also in these temperatures it is of interest to understand what kind of range that can be expected a very cold winter day.
Second, those who have followed this blog for a while know that I did not buy an i3 to set records in low electricity consumption or longest range, but rather to have a fun car to drive. We would never turn off the heat to increase range if it were not a range emergency and I would under those circumstances be very annoyed.
That said, I tested the i3 a morning when the thermometer showed -15 degrees (about 0F). Intentionally I had NOT preconditioned the car as I expect many will not do this every time. I put the car in Comfort mode and drove as I usually do, leaving traffic lights with a lot of torque and some sudden stops using the brakes. Some stretches the speed was up to 100 km/h (62 mph) but as usual in the city the average speed was below 40 km/h (25 mph). The Guessometer showed 100 km (62 mi) expected range when I stared but dropped quickly. In ECO PRO+ it guessed 129 but I was not interested in that.
So what was the actual range? Well, this cold winter day I could not get the 100 km (62 mi) I use in my standard reply, but had to pull over at a rapid charger after 82 km (51 mi). The expected range was then down at 1 km. 15 minutes later I had topped the car with 6 kWh – enough for me to reach the destination.
A number of measures could have been taken to increase the range this cold winter day:
- Precondition the battery
- Precondition the cabin
- Drive carefully (or use ECO PRO+)
- Reduce or turn off heat and maybe use seat heating instead
In my case I rather use the extra minutes at a rapid charger instead.