Electric Range for the Nissan Leaf & Chevrolet Volt in Cold Weather
Back in January we published graphs showing the impact a cold weather snap was having on the real-world range of the Nissan Leaf.
A lot of owners and potential owners have contacted us to say they found the results really useful. Current owners wanted to know if what they were experiencing was normal. And potential owners wanted to get a level of comfort of what to expect. And we had a number of requests to add more data and other vehicles.
We love getting your feedback. So based on your feedback we’ve added:
- 2,000 more trips on the Nissan Leaf,
- Chevrolet Volt data, with over 4,000 trips, and
- and the best range measured for each temperature.
All of the results were created from FleetCarma real-world vehicle loggers installed on vehicles all across North America.
Since the Chevrolet Volt turns on the engine intermittently at temperatures below 25 °F (-4 °C), only trips with ambient temperatures above that threshold could be shown in the graph for EV range. The use of the engine helps heat the cabin which is great for the driver, but prevents us from including those trips in our data set.
Update: we now have additional data analysis in a follow up post on the effects of heater use in the Leaf and Volt
A second follow-up post will discuss the Volt’s overall fuel efficiency as temperature changes and will include logged trips down to -13 °F (-25°C).
Interested in the impact of the driver/user, we also extracted the maximum/best range achieved at each of the temperatures and plotted those along side the average values.
As can be seen in the plots, the maximum ranges (green lines) have available ranges well above the average. These trips could have been taken by gentle drivers taking care to utilize regenerative braking as much as possible, on clear roads. These drivers also could have seen their range extended by preheating or cooling the cabin while the vehicle was still plugged in.
What both graphs indicate is that there is a sweet spot where drivers see the best electric ranges between 60-75 °F (15-24 °C). There is no doubt that temperature has a measurable affect on the range of an electric vehicle. What many drivers and fleets must keep in mind is that there is a great deal of operator control and many strategies and tactics can be taken to increase an electric vehicle’s range in warm or cold conditions.
To put some concrete numbers on this:
- Best range logged on a Nissan Leaf @ 32 °F was 106 miles (0°C = 170 km)
- Average range logged on a Nissan Leaf @ 32 °F was 64 miles (0°C = 102 km)
- Best range logged on a Chevrolet Volt @ 32 °F was 38 miles (0°C = 62 km)
- Average range logged on a Chevrolet Volt @ 32 °F was 26 miles (0°C = 42 km)
The key take-away: temperature has a significant impact on range, but the driver holds a lot of sway over exactly how big that impact is.
And for those that like comparisons, here is the average range for both the Leaf and Volt on the same plot. Again, trips below 25 °F (-4 °C) are not shown for the Volt since the engine is intermittently turned on below that threshold.
If you have any suggestions for future analysis, please leave it in the comments below!
For the keeners, here’s some more information for you:
- a link to some details on the FleetCarma Electric Vehicle monitoring system.
- a link to one of our previous webinars (free) on cold weather performance in details, and the different types of HVAC users we see.
And if you are curious about what plug-in vehicles we can log, our C5 logger is able to log energy/electricity on:
- Chevrolet Volt
- Chevrolet Spark EV
- Citroen C-Zero
- Ford Transit Connect EV
- Ford Focus EV
- Ford CMAX Energi
- Ford Fusion Energi
- Mitsubishi i-MiEV
- Mitsuoka Like
- Modec Delivery Van
- Navistar eStar
- Nissan LEAF
- Opel Ampera
- Peugeot iOn
- Renault Kangoo
- Smart fortwo electric drive (3rd generation)
- Smith Newton
- Toyota Prius Plug-in
- And More! Contact us if a vehicle you are interested in is not listed here. We are continually adding vehicle compatibility.
The system also works on almost every gasoline, diesel, and hybrid vehicle sold since 1996 in North America and 2001 in Europe.