Heat pumps could cool range anxiety

New research has identified solutions that can mitigate the loss of range for electric cars caused by cold weather.

According to What Car?, electric car range can reduce by as much as 20% during the winter.

However, What Car? and sister title Move Electric have found that choosing a model equipped with a heat pump significantly improves cold weather efficiency. Heat pumps reduce strain on the battery by drawing excess heat from the electric drivetrain, distributing it around the interior of the car through the air conditioning.

What Car? and Move Electric put cars through a real-world winter range test, and then compared the results with those for identical models tested last summer to see how lower temperatures affect electric car battery efficiency.

In the winter range test it found that certain models saw a 20.1% drop in range compared to summer testing. Other models decreased by 18%, 15.7% and 15.2% in range.

Steve Huntingford, editor of What Car?, said: “Range remains one of the key considerations for electric car buyers, but when deciding whether a particular model can go far enough on a charge to fit into your life, it’s important to bear in mind that batteries don’t work as well in cooler conditions.”

James Attwood, editor of Move Electric, added: “If you do plan to push the range of your electric car in winter, we’d definitely recommend choosing one with a heat pump fitted or ticking that box on the options list, because these can significantly improve an electric vehicle’s range in cold driving conditions.”