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MetroMPG 12-31-2009 11:38 AM

News flash! OEM electric cars suffer reduced range in cold weather too!

It's not just us low-tech DIY electric car drivers experiencing reduced winter performance from our lead acid machines. Some blog-happy BMW Mini-E owners are seeing & reporting the effects too.

I saw this headline and laughed out loud:

Who chilled the electric car?


Timothy Gill, a software engineer from New Jersey, made it just over 80 miles before his car broke down during a cold spell, he wrote on his blog: “Towed! After only 87.8 miles … Sheesh!” --- (source)

Aside from the fact they should win an award for the clever title, I have several problems with the language in that article. Permit me to digress from the actual topic at hand while I enumerate them.

First, is 87.8 miles "just over" 80 miles? Sheesh, indeed.

Second, if your car gives you multiple separate warnings that it is about to run out of "fuel", is it fair to say it "broke down" when you keep pressing on? If you drive a regular ICE car out of gas, did it "break down"?

BMW is undoubtedly learning some really interesting things from having these cars in the hands of "regular" drivers. (Of course early adopters don't really even count as "regular drivers."

Two related blog posts from Mini-E owners experiencing cold weather performance drops:

1) Towed! After only 87.8 miles… Sheesh! My Year with an All-Electric MINI

The guy is used to getting 100+ miles in warm weather. The most interesting thing is the driver thought there was something wrong with the car (in terms of range reduction indicating a fault of some kind). Seems a bit of physics education is in order.

2) Robert's MINI E Field Trial: Cold weather Range Anxiety

"Well after over 4 months of driving, I was feeling like I understood my Electric MINI E ... But my sense of normality has been shattered in the last week as Temperatures have plummeted, so has My MINI E's range."

May I suggest: :D


vpoppv 12-31-2009 01:22 PM

LOL! I read the post and links before I got to the picture! I really didn't expect that! Boy, those Mini-E guys are real noobs. I'd figure only enthusiasts would pony up that kind of cash for an electric, but I was wrong. You're right though, I guess it really is best if a Joe Public with no idea about electrics gets them to iron out all the kinks. They really do push them to the limits without having a clue about battery basics: car sat outside, uncharged, before a freeway speed long trip. I like the comments "I slowed all the way down to 60"!!! I would kill to GET to 60, much less cruise there:p
And as a comparison, back in the early 90's when I bought my new Festiva, I had a very similar experience with mileage when California switched to Ethanol gas: that usual $5 that I put in was not going nearly as far as what it was during the "non-ethanol" months to the point where I was seriously wondering what was wrong with the car. Took me a while to figure that one out....

Christopher Jordan 12-31-2009 01:41 PM

Even on the west coast the slightly cool weather creates havoc on batteries. Range was poor for me with the extra battery, but it would not hold a charge in November and went 'dead' in December. It is way above freezing with cloudy skies right now; and I have a big yellow paperweight in my garage.

shovel 12-31-2009 02:46 PM

Well, time and time again, idiots blame equipment for the user's stupidity, and then insist that the stupidity is justified and not in need of correction.

vpoppv 01-01-2010 01:31 AM

According to the Nissan Leaf website:

Nissan LEAF Electric Car | Nissan USA Official Site

Q:How does driving in cold weather effect[sic] the performance and battery life?

A:Cold weather does not directly affect driving range. Your driving habits and patterns and accessory use (including heat and a/c) all play a role in driving range.

Please note: I did not spell "affect" in the question above, I just cut and pasted. I notice a lot of the questions are grammatically incorrect;). Of course, there are three "ands" in the answer, and punctuation.....ah never mind:p

Christ 01-01-2010 01:41 AM

Actually, Affect is the correct term there.

If you believe that something in your C&P is incorrect, you usually include [sic] after the word or thing, to let people know that it's there from being quoted, not because you're an idiot. (Not calling you an idiot, it's the best way to explain it.)

vpoppv 01-01-2010 01:52 AM


Originally Posted by Christ (Post 151167)
Actually, Affect is the correct term there.

If you believe that something in your C&P is incorrect, you usually include [sic] after the word or thing, to let people know that it's there from being quoted, not because you're an idiot. (Not calling you an idiot, it's the best way to explain it.)

Yeah, I know it's affect, but that's not how they wrote it. They wrote "effect". Anyway, since we're on the subject, I always thought [sic] stood for "spelled in context", which, in this case, would be what I did. In fact, [sic] is simply latin for "thus". You probably already knew that, I just thought I'd throw that out there...:D
I thought using [sic] would be too hoity-toity, but it would have been the proper way to do it. Anyway, I informed Nissan that I am willing to test their vehicle for free.....:p

Hey, I added the [sic]!!!HAha!!

Christ 01-01-2010 01:54 AM

Ah, I misunderstood.

And yea, I knew that. :P

I know a little bit about Latin, only because of "other" studies I've been doing over the years. I don't study foreign languages.

user removed 01-01-2010 07:52 AM

I can only imagine the number of cars you would see dead on the side of the road, if every car in the Washington DC area was a pure electric with a range of 100 miles under ideal conditions.

Best way to practice that kind of limited range driving strategy would be to only put enough gas in your car to travel the same distance. Carry some more fuel in a extra gas can, and figure every time you had to add gas it would be a tow bill, roadside charge of the battery, or some other form of replenishment, with up to 6 hours waiting time.

Not saying it is impossible, but certainly for the average key in the ignition and go motorist, it will be a long time before any electric vehicle replaces IC, if ever.

Of course the car companies would be tickled pink if you just bought two cars, on for local driving and another for the highway. I know there are other solutions, but when you get into millions of drivers in a small area, which of them is really practical and cost effective?


MetroMPG 01-01-2010 10:14 AM


Originally Posted by vpoppv (Post 151164)
A:Cold weather does not directly affect driving range.

O RLY?! :eek: Nissan needs some edumacation, methinks!

Either that or I want some of their magical engineering:
  • so my car's drivetrain lubricants never change viscosity, increasing rolling resistance;
  • so my tires never stiffen in the cold, increasing RR;
  • oh, and I want their magic, energy-neutral external air warmer so fluid density and aero drag remains constant year round.
  • And let's not speak of the effect of temperature on battery performance... unless of course they've got heaters/coolers that run 100% of the time the car's plugged in... which they just might.
Mech: I love the idea of training people with their ICE cars, one gallon at a time! That's inspired.

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