keskiviikko 18. helmikuuta 2015

Regarding winter range

One of the questions I often get asked at the quick charge stations during the winter is how does the winter affect your range. It depends. That's the answer. Turns out, it doesn't just depend on one thing either. It depends on a lot of things.

The most obvious one, and the one people are most aware of, is the fact that current batteries perform better when they are in optimal temperature. That's usually around room temperature, or perhaps body temperature. Much above and you get into trouble. Freezing and below charging becomes slower and they're not quite as willling to part with their charge either. How much this matters on my C-Zero I don't really know. I've done most of my long trips in less than optimal conditions, so I don't really know well it will perform come summer. If I'd have to guess, I'd say it's in the 10-20 % range.

The second rather well known factor is heating. Electric cars tend to use the electricity in their batteries not just for driving but also for heating. In the C-Zero the heater can use around 5 kW. With a 16 kWh battery, with some usually left in reserve, it's not too hard to figure out that the heater can suck up a third of the range in an hour. Generally when I have 100 km range on the gauge, turning heat on will drop it to 70 km, which is probably quite accurate. So I'd say 30 %. In my car I've installed an ethanol heater, so I don't have to suffer this drop in range or the cold either. Some newer vehicles also have heat pumps, which should be able to reduce the consumption to around 1 kW in optimal conditions while still providing enough heat.

Some people are also aware of rolling resistance. Winter tires are designed to grip on snow and ice. And you can't have perfect grip with perfect rolling resistance. In other words, your summer tires will roll easier and winter tires will decrease your range. My guess, 5-10 %.

What I haven't seen anyone recognize is air resistance. If I've done my math right, going from room temperature to something like -20˚C can increase the air resistance or drag as much as 10 %. Simply because cold air is heavier than hot. That's quite a bit for something most drivers don't even think about.

I'll leave it to you to figure out how much all of these could dimish your range.

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