EVs Perish While Awaiting Charge During Chicago’s Severest Cold Spell in Years

EVs Perish While Awaiting Charge During Chicago’s Severest Cold Spell in Years

Chicago’s Brutal Winter Impact on EVs

Chicago is a major city that faces brutal winters every year, but its current cold snap is worse than the city has seen in a while, and it’s taking an extra toll on EV drivers. Electric vehicles lose some of their battery capacity in extreme cold weather, but with EV drivers scrambling to find available public chargers has pushed many to completely deplete their car’s batteries while waiting in line to charge.

Extended Charging Times and Battery Depletion at Public Chargers

NBC Chicago set up in Evergreen Park, where EV drivers were forced to wait in line for hours to charge their cars, then forced to wait hours for their cars to actually charge due to the extremely low temperatures. Electrons just don’t flow well in extremely low temperatures, leading to range degradation and increased charge times when compared to normal operation. NBC Chicago reported that several cars had to be towed away from the line because they ran out of juice while waiting to charge, and,

Advice for EV Owners During Cold Snaps

“I think EV owners are discovering for the first time, and it’s what gas car owners knew decades ago, that when it gets really cold, you don’t want to get too low on your power supply,” Carfax.com Editor in Chief Patrick Olsen said.

Studies illustrate just how much that power level is reduced. In Norway, where half of the new cars purchased are electric, the Norwegian Automobile Federation found that EV’s lose approximately 20% of their driving range in the cold. AAA meanwhile found that percentage could more than double if the car’s heating system was on full blast.

While some cars fared better than others in tests, including the Tesla Model S, which lost approximately 4% of its range when the temperature dropped below 32 degrees, others struggled. Recurrent, a research firm, found the Chevy Bolt lost approximately one-third of its range when the mercury dipped below freezing. The BMW i3 also lost range, as did the Hyundai Kona in tests.

Preparing for Extreme Winter Weather as an EV Owner

For any EV owners who may be experiencing their first extreme winter weather, make sure to plan ahead for necessary trips, and do what you can to keep your car charged. Charge at home when possible, but for those who don’t have an at-home charging solution, allow yourself ample time and charge to get to a public charger.