Does weather affect the range of electric vehicles?

John Paul, AAA Northeast's Car Doctor, answers a question from a reader wondering whether extreme cold shortens the battery range of electric vehicles.

The 2019 Chevrolet Bolt, an electric car that gets 238 miles of range on a charge.
The 2019 Chevrolet Bolt, an electric car that gets 238 miles of range on a charge. –Jessica Lynn Walker/GM via AP

Q. Is it reasonable to assume that the advertised battery range of electric vehicles will be seriously diminished during very cold winter weather? Aren’t mileage ratings based on ideal weather condition?

A. Both extreme cold and hot weather can have an impact on electric car range. We did some testing on several electric vehicles a couple of years ago. On one vehicle, the advertised mileage was about 120 miles between charges. When the temperature was above 95 degrees, the mileage dropped by 30 percent. At temperatures approaching freezing, the mileage dropped by about 50 percent. The newest electric vehicles have better battery management systems that allow for better cold-weather operation, but driving ranges will still be reduced during extreme temperatures.    

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John Paul is AAA Northeast’s Car Doctor. He has over 40 years of experience in the automotive business and is an ASE certified master technician. Email your car question to jpaul@aaanortheast.com.