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Frigid Weather Effects on Electric Vehicles and Charging

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For nearly a week, freezing temperatures have enveloped the central United States from Chicago to northern Texas, creating struggles for electric vehicle owners. The cold has reduced driving ranges and forced long waits at charging stations across the region. Electric vehicles lose some of their travel range in frigid conditions, especially at temperatures below zero seen this week. Studies confirm range loss varies from 10% to 36% in cold weather. EVs also cannot charge as swiftly when temperatures plummet.

Lithium ions flow through a liquid electrolyte inside EV batteries, generating power. However, the ions move more slowly through the chilled electrolyte and release less energy. This cuts range and can drain the battery faster. Similarly, electrons travel slower in the cold, preventing the battery from accepting electricity quickly at charging stations. Chemical reactions slow in extreme cold. Batteries must reach adequate temperatures for electrons to flow smoothly during charging.


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