Electric cars risk breakdown as icy temperatures drain battery power, analysis shows

 (PA Archive)
(PA Archive)

Performance analysis of electric vehicles in freezing temperatures found heating the car used 39 per cent more battery power in the first hour compared to normal conditions. The new statistics surrounding the performance were released to ITV News.

Cars have an additional issue in cold weather: the battery power decreases as the thermostat is turned up.

This implies that you can drive 18 per cent fewer miles on a full battery in the winter than you can in the summer.

According to Chris Millward, technical development manager at RAC, the organisation is equipping their breakdown vans with specialised charging stations.

He added that the reason for six per cent of calls to electric vehicles was that they had run out of power - a much greater ratio than that of petrol or diesel vehicles.

Owner of an electric vehicle Steve told ITV that even with a fully charged battery, the current weather had reduced his usual range of 82 miles to 45 miles.

He told the news outlet: "Batteries don’t like extremes of temperature which is why your phone is rubbish if you leave it in the sun. “The difference is if an EV runs out of power everything stops and wheels lock up so it’s much harder to remove from the road."

The announcement coincides with mayhem for American Tesla drivers.

With temperatures as low as -17C in Chicago, drivers of electric cars were left stranded when their charging stations malfunctioned owing to a sudden cold snap.

The lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicles (EVs) can be severely damaged by icy temperatures and heatwaves, which can accelerate or slow down the chemical reactions that determine how well an EV can charge.

However, there is some good news: range loss due to cold is only momentary and there is no long-term harm to the EV battery itself. Meanwhile, prolonged exposure to intense heat can permanently damage a battery.