Extreme weather has been known to hurt your electric vehicle’s components and performance.
Continue reading to learn how hot weather impacts the performance of electric cars.
Table of Contents
Do Electric Cars Perform Better or Worse in Hot Weather?
Electric vehicles perform worst in hot weather. Extreme heat has a negative effect on the range, battery life, and tires of electric vehicles, and in turn, performance.
In hot climates, electric vehicles have a shorter range. AAA research reveals that high temperatures of more than 95 degrees Fahrenheit reduce driving range by 17%. Use AC to keep occupants comfortable contributes tremendously to the shorter range.
For instance, an electric vehicle with an average range of 330 miles would record a reduced range of 273 miles in extreme heat. Similarly, a car within a 150-mile range will drop to 124 miles.
It is good to note that EV range in hot weather varies significantly in vehicle makes and models. This is because electric cars have diverse battery types and unique engineering. For example, a Tesla Model S has a rated range of 405 miles, but high temperatures reduce it to 397 miles.
On the other hand, Ford Mustang Mach-E records a range of 284 miles in extreme heat, from the average of 305 miles.
Lower ranges mean owners have to charge their vehicles frequently, increasing operating costs. While electric cars’ batteries deteriorate with time, hot climates promote faster degradation, lowering battery life. Additionally, hot weather can reduce tire safety and life expectancy.
An incorrectly inflated tire lowers efficiency and may overheat in summer.
Do Electric Cars Overheat Like Gas-driven Cars?
Yes. Though uncommon, electric cars can overheat like their gas-driven counterparts. It is not rare to spot a vehicle on the roadside with its hood open and smoke billowing from its engine on a hot summer afternoon.
Gas-powered cars are prone to overheating due to temperature regulation problems like inadequate coolant, broken water pumps, and faulty thermostats.
While electric vehicles utilize a different energy source from gas-driven ones, they produce a considerable amount of energy in the form of heat. Electric cars have a thermal system for regulating temperature comprising a heat pump and coolant tube.
In sweltering temperatures, electric vehicles can generate too much heat, overwhelming their components and overheating.
Another reason an electric car may overheat is faulty cooling systems and rapid charging.
Although fast charging is convenient and time-saving, it runs a large amount of charge through the battery. The heat can stress the battery resulting in overheating.
How Hot is Too Hot For An Electric Car?
Temperatures above 95 degrees Fahrenheit are too hot for any electric vehicle.
Electric vehicles derive power from lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery cells. Excessive heat can harm these batteries in two ways. First, high temperatures increase the chemical reactions in a battery. Consequently, the battery degrades at a higher rate than usual, requiring premature replacement.
Second, excessive heat produces gas that can expand and crack your electric vehicle battery casing. In severe cases, a battery can explode, which is catastrophic for you and your vehicle.
Luckily, electric batteries have a liquid coolant system to reduce the battery packs’ temperatures.
Do Electric and Gas Driven Cars Respond Differently to Hot Weather?
Electric and gas-driven cars have similar responses to hot weather. Summer heat is hard on the two vehicle types in several ways. Firstly, extended exposure to sunlight ruins the bodywork, causing cracks and worn paintwork. It also hurts the interior fittings, resulting in fading and deterioration.
Second, cooling systems and air conditioning are burdened.
They work hard to maintain ideal temperatures in the hood and cabin. Third, tire wear increases significantly due to heat buildup in the tire as well as friction when the tire hits the hot road. This is particularly true for electric vehicles due to their massive weight.
Lastly, electric and gas-driven vehicles suffer efficiency loss.
According to the Department of Energy, traditional internal combustion engines (ICE) lose 25% of their fuel economy due to air conditioning requirements in hot climates.
With range being the new MPG, electric vehicles have a lower range in extreme heat.
How Do You Take Good Care of an Electric Car in Warm Weather?
People take different measures to protect themselves in summer, such as applying sunscreen, seeking shade, and wearing protective clothing.
These measures prevent the adverse effects of overexposure to heat, like sunburns, dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke.
Likewise, it would help if you implement actions to protect your electric vehicle from the adverse effects of excessive heat while preserving drivability.
Below are simple and effective ways to protect your electric car in warm weather.
· Charge Your Vehicle to 80%
Most electric vehicle manufacturers recommend avoiding charging electric vehicles to 100%. It is best to stick with a maximum of 80% to protect the battery from overheating and accelerated cell degradation. A full charge is okay during long drives but should not be a habit.
· Watch Where You Park
As mentioned earlier, hot weather conditions adversely affect your battery’s health and life.
As such, consider parking your vehicle in the shade –under a tree or building’s shadow to avoid excessive heat exposure and protect your battery.
Also, shelter your car when charging. Installing a charger in your garage is an excellent idea to keep the car cool when charging.
· Use Preconditioning Feature
You can use your electric car’s advanced technological features to conserve battery.
Most modern electric vehicles come with preconditioning, a feature that lets you cool the cabin before starting a journey. The feature works best when you charge your car overnight since the energy to cool the cabin comes from the main, not your battery.
Consequently, you won’t have to set your AC on full blast to get rid of the summer heat and save your battery.
· Refrain From Driving between Noon and 3 pm
During summer, it pays to drive during the cooler parts of the day and avoid the hours between noon and 3 pm since they are the hottest.
High temperatures cause your battery to overheat and consume more energy than usual.
Also, you will use your AC more during this time to keep temperatures bearable and drain your battery.
· Limit Accessories
Extensive use of audio and infotainment systems and USB chargers can drain battery power.
Therefore, avoid too many accessories to save power and leverage your vehicle’s full range.
If you are going for a summer vacation or weekend gateway, only carry the necessary equipment.
Remember, the heavier the items, the more drag and the more battery it will use. So, limit what you carry during trips and remove unnecessary items in your vehicle.
· Drive on Eco-mode
Using eco-mode when driving is an excellent way to increase your electric car’s efficiency and save your range.
This mode limits certain functions in your vehicle, so you conserve your battery’s charge and have fewer recharge stops. It is ideal during extensive summer drives, so you don’t end up stranded in the middle of nowhere.
Do Electric Cars Have a Shorter-Range in Warm Climates?
No, electric cars have an optimal range in warm weather with temperatures of between 70o-95o Fahrenheit (21.50 -35oC). They perform best in a balmy climate and report increased efficiency.
At 21.5o, electric vehicles outperform their range by 15%. A car with an average range of 300 miles will last an incredible 345 miles.
Extreme heat is detrimental to your electric vehicle and causes components’ wear and tear, range loss, and premature battery replacement.
While you don’t have control over the hot weather, you can prevent it from harming your electric car by taking precautions like minding where you park and utilizing inbuilt technologies.