All-electric vehicles offer myriad of benefits over internal combustion, but when the weather turns cold, EVs can lose range. The Chevy Bolt EV is no exception, as demonstrated in a recent study.
Per a report from Recurrent, the Chevy Bolt EV is “highly sensitive” to external temperature changes, with available range dropping significantly as the temperature falls. Based on an analysis of more than 1,200 individual Chevy Bolts EVs, observed range at 20 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit will yield just 66 percent of the original EPA range estimate (259 miles), while observed range at 70 degrees Fahrenheit is 98 percent of the original EPA range estimate.
“We have reports from Alaska that the Bolt can lose half its range at -40 F, but thankfully most drivers won’t see those temperatures,” Recurrent states.
There are few reasons why electric vehicle range drops off in cold weather, including slower chemical and physical reactions in the battery, with cold temperatures inhibiting the chemical reactions needed to produce electricity. Additionally, EVs will consume onboard power to heat the cabin, as compared to internal combustion engines that will redirect wasted heat.
The Recurrent study is based on anonymized data pulled from 7,000 vehicles in the broader Recurrent community from across the U.S., with data incorporating all real-world variables, such as uneven terrain, variable driving speeds, and calendar aging of batteries. According to the latest 2022 study, the EVs with the smallest drop in range in winter weather include the Jaguar I-Pace (3 percent) and Audi e-tron (8 percent).
With regard to the Chevy Bolt EV specifically, Recurrent points out that the vehicle manual suggests leaving the Bolt plugged in with reduced max charge when it is very cold or very hot to allow the thermal management system to work without the depleting the battery.