Biggest Winter Range Test Ever Reveals Best EVs For Cold Weather

Could you imagine the Audi e-tron would stand out at anything?

People that live in colder countries could be the last ones to adopt EVs, but Norway shows this is not the case. Although electric vehicles lose precious range in low temperatures, some suffer less from that than others. This is what the Norwegian Automobile Federation – also known simply as NAF – decided to test with 20 EVs. That was probably the biggest winter EV range test we have ever seen.

The tests started in Oslo and ended in Hafjell, which is normally a 200 km (124 mi) journey, but the evaluation extended that route to 482 km (300 mi) to cope with the cars with more range. They went through city and highway driving and at least a mountain pass. Speeds ranged from 60 km/h (37 mph) to 110 km/h (68 mph). The idea was to run the EVs until the battery was completely discharged.

NAF also performed a charging test from around 10 percent to a minimum of 80 percent of charge. It was conducted at -2ºC (28.4ºF), and all cars were driving for at least two hours to ensure their batteries were warm.

The first thing the association discovered was that the tested EVs present around 18.5 percent less range than their manufacturers state on WLTP. The worst one was in this was the Opel Ampera-e, a car that you are more used to calling Chevy Bolt. With a WLTP range of 423 km, it managed to run only 296.9 km, or 29.81 percent less. 

The vehicle that was most faithful to its stated WLTP range was the Hyundai Kona. Of the declared 449 km of range, it was able to run 404.5 km, or only 9.91 percent less than officially claimed.

Surprisingly, the EV people tend to criticize the most was the charging champion. The Audi e-tron 55 quattro took only 27 minutes to go from 10 percent to 80 percent of charge. Would that be a reason for it to have been the best selling EV in Norway in January and February?

Again, the worst EV in this aspect was the Ampera-e. The difference is that it now had the company of the Nissan Leaf Plus and the Renault ZOE. The French EV proved it cannot handle more than 45 kW. Without a liquid-cooled battery management system, it increasingly lost capacity with time.

The Opel required 95 minutes to achieve 80 percent of charge. The Renault needed 65 minutes to get to that charge level, at only 24 kW. The Nissan – which also lacks the battery management system – took 75 minutes to get there.

Other interesting findings

The test helped NAF debunk common beliefs, such as that EVs suddenly stop when battery juice ends. They keep speed levels until the very last kilometers – or miles, whatever. What happens is that the car gives signs that it will stop, such as a loss of acceleration capacity, a limit on top speed, and even a stop in heating. Nils Sødal, the senior communications advisor for NAF, tells us something intriguing.

“A fun fact worth knowing is that, if you run completely out of power, you can still drive a few more kilometers. Just shut the car down and leave it for a short while, maybe half an hour to an hour, and you’ll have power enough to drive even a few more kilometers. This is extremely practical if you happen to stop just a few hundred meters short of a charging station or your home.”

Apart from this unexpected news, Sødal asks automakers to be more transparent with information about the range of their cars. He says customers get really disappointed to discover the range is so affected by low temperatures, as well as charging. That is certainly not an issue for people that are used to EVs, but what about new adopters? Managing expectations can be crucial to increase EV sales.

Source: NAF

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