Alarmingly, the study discovered that many electric vehicle models’ driving range is adversely affected by high temperatures. The report disclosed that some EVs hit a whopping 31% range reduction as temperatures exceeded 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
On the other hand, their driving range only recorded a drop of 5% at 90 degrees and 2.8% at 80 degrees under lower temperatures.
These findings may highly affect electric vehicle adoption in the US, especially in the Southern and Western parts of the country.
Tesla EVs performed well in the test
Recurrent studied data from 17,000 vehicles it observes, including 65 battery-powered and plug-in hybrid vehicles. Below are a few of the EVs the company named in the study:
- Tesla Models 3, Y, S and X
- Chevrolet Bolt EV
- Hyundai Kona
- Nissan Leaf
- Ford F-150 Lightning
- Mustang Mach-E
If you are wondering why only a few models are on the list above, the analytics firm did not disclose the other models that performed poorly on the test.
As expected, Tesla’s innovative electric vehicle offerings fared well in Recurrent’s test. The S3XY lineup demonstrated the least range reduction, even under high temperatures. Interestingly, these excellent results can be attributed to the EV giant’s strategy of using heat pumps as an alternative to the traditional air conditioning systems most automakers adopt.
“Heat pumps are so much more efficient at cooling.”Scott Case, Recurrent CEO
Tesla’s innovative vehicle cooling approach is indeed remarkable. However, Recurrent’s study also revealed that its EV models had the biggest gap between their EPA-estimated and real-world range. As per the test results, they averaged approximately 60% of their EPA-estimated range during normal driving settings, indicating 358 miles for a 2023 Tesla Model 3 Long Range variant.
How does high temperature affect Tesla EVs’ driving range?
The city of Dallas just suffered an intense heat wave on July 18, reporting a peak temperature of 106 degrees.
In that sense, Scientist Carlos Nossa shared that his 2022 Model 3’s usual remaining driving range of 40-50 miles whenever he travels from Bellaire to Austin dropped to 10 miles during his last two trips.
“I noticed that the car was using the battery quicker. I kept calculating maybe I make it home, and there’s still 10 or 11 miles left, but if it goes faster than that, I’m screwed.”Scientist Carlos Nossa
Scientist Nossa’s observation is unsurprising as EVs are really prone to suffer from driving range reduction due to high temperatures.
The University of Michigan Battery Lab Technical Director Greg Less clarified that EVs’ range reduction during heat waves is attributed to their battery chemistry.
“Once you’re above [104 degrees Fahrenheit] you start to have a breakdown of the passive emission layer on the anode, and that breakdown will then cause consumption of the liquid electrolyte, which will shorten the lifetime of your battery.”Greg Less, University of Michigan Battery Lab Technical
He further asserted that extreme heat would not damage EV batteries as they do not encounter 104-degree temperatures on a daily basis, and they have cooling systems.
“All electric vehicles have a cooling system on their battery pack, and that cooling system might be pumped liquid; it’s probably some sort of passive cooling liquid, plus airflow. It requires electricity; that’s going to reduce the amount of electricity available to propel your car down the road.”Greg Less, University of Michigan Battery Lab Technical
- Ford enhanced its EV range by 13% by using radiant interior heating
- Does use of Air Conditioning affect an electric vehicle’s driving range?
- South Korean firm to establish an $18 million EV heaters plant in Georgia
- What is the range of an EV?
- How far can I drive (Range) using my electric vehicle in winter?
Extreme high temperatures indeed reduce an electric vehicle’s driving range, as proven by Recurrent’s study. That said, drivers must be vigilant enough to monitor the state of their batteries and remaining driving range to ensure they arrive at their destinations without delay.