One thing that almost all electric vehicle (EV) owners pay close attention to is how your range is impacted in colder weather. A new study conducted by Recurrent has shown operating your Tesla in a colder climate may be more beneficial to the health of your battery.
According to Recurrent’s study, prolonged exposure to heat can accelerate battery degradation. The study analyzed Teslas specifically for two main reasons – the sheer number of them on the road, and also because of their advanced battery thermal management systems. It found that Teslas operated in cold and marine climate zones generally exhibit higher Range Scores compared to those in hot climate zones.
A Range Score represents how much of a vehicle’s original range can be expected today, with a higher score indicating better battery health. As you can see in the infographic below, more northern states had a higher Range Score (95) compared to the southern states which had a Range Score of 92. Given the proximity, it is safe to assume that the Range Score for Canadian provinces would be 95, or possibly higher if a similar study was conducted north of the border.
The study found that the threshold for accelerated battery degradation is around 30°C (86°F). Environmental heat contributes extra energy to the battery’s chemical reactions, thereby aging it prematurely.
If you live in a region with a hot climate, all is not lost. The study also looked at the Model Y and in many instances it had a Range Score of 95 or above even when it was operated in a hot climate. Recurrent says this is because there are steps you can take to mitigate these effects, and these are likely what many of these owners did. The company suggests parking in a garage or shaded area during hot and sunny days, and also leaving the battery at around 50% when parked in the heat, both of which should reduce side reactions and improve stability. Additionally, LFP (Lithium Iron Phosphate) battery packs are known for resilience in high temperatures, so this might be a better choice if you live in a hot climate.
In contrast, cold weather, while causing temporary performance issues in EVs, does not inflict permanent damage. Range loss in cold climates results from the energy needed for cabin and battery heating. This effect is short-term, and the car’s performance returns to normal as the weather warms.