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18 Feb 19

EV range suffers in Nordic winters

Driving your electric car in below-zero temperatures can seriously limit your car’s range, a recent AAA study showed. Johan Seuffert, who manages Stockholm’s municipal fleet, and Steven Poppe, Fleet Manager Norway and Sweden, Coca-Cola European Partners confirm these findings.

The city of Stockholm started electrifying its fleet many years ago. Already in 2010, the city was voted Europe’s first Green Capital. Today, 98% of the municipal fleet, 60% of which are LCVs, are green.

Coca-Cola European Partners implemented 100 Opel Amperas for its sales reps in Norway, as part of the company-wide programme This is Forward, aimed at making the company more sustainable.

Battery warming

Johan Seuffert, Fleet Manager in charge of the municipal fleet of Stockholm, said: “Batteries are temperature sensitive but modern electric cars have insulated batteries that are heated in winter. While the car is being charged at night, the batteries are heated with electricity from the mains. During travel, the batteries are heated with electricity from the battery pack itself.”

“The figures vary quite a lot between drivers,” said Mr Poppe. “This reflects driving patterns, driving style but also the temperatures, so it’s not possible to say what the exact impact of one factor is but the range is lower than we thought. For drivers using their vehicles in extreme cold and mountain conditions, it is even much lower than we thought.”

WLTP

“The new WLTP figures are more correct than the NEDC ones,” said Mr Seuffert. “That makes the difference in winter smaller than before.”

“The level of reduced range in winter was unexpected,” added Mr Poppe. “While you do not expect to achieve the manufacturer’s NEDC of WLTP figures, we were surprised when some drivers reported 50% less than the manufacturer’s numbers. This is much larger than what we saw with diesel.”

He added his company does not give specific recommendations to maximise EV range. “Maximising range can be done similarly to diesel cars. Of course lowering the heating or driving more slowly is not always an option.”

Challenging climate

The report Assessing range and performance of electric vehicles in Nordic driving conditions of Nordisk Energiforskning concludes that Nordic climate challenges the use of EVs in many ways:

  • Cold weather and adverse road conditions increase driving resistance
  • Cold weather necessitates slower charging and battery warming
  • Heating and ventilation consume high amounts of prime battery energy

All three factors have a negative impact on the vehicle’s range.

The report recommends drivers get more information about how loss of range depends on temperature but also on driving conditions (steady-speed vs stop-and-go traffic). Larger batteries and biofuel heaters are also cited as ways to combat driving range loss.

Further reading

Authored by: Benjamin Uyttebroeck