Electric vehicle drivers navigate the bitter cold in Milwaukee

NOW: Electric vehicle drivers navigate the bitter cold in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) --- Freezing temperatures are causing some issues for electric vehicle drivers this week.

In Chicago, dozens of Tesla owners were left stranded when their car batteries died in the cold and some charging stations weren't working.

CBS 58 spoke to EV drivers in the Milwaukee area about how they're navigating the cold.

Tesla drivers at a charging location in Greenfield say they've noticed shorter battery life in this weather. "It's been a little bit difficult and unexpected," said Candice Watson, who is experiencing her first winter as an EV driver.

Testing from AAA shows that cold weather can significantly affect the battery life and range of electric vehicles.

Nick Jarmusz, AAA director of public affairs for the Midwest, says temps lower than 20 degrees can reduce the range of an EC by up to 40%.

"That's a pretty significant change and it's different than internal combustion engines," said Jarmusz.

Cold weather also affects your battery in a traditional vehicle, but in a different way. "Once you do get it started, your engine is recharging the battery as you go," he said.

With EVs, however, the battery is fully powering the vehicle the whole way. "So that effect of the cold weather stays with you even once you get going," said Jarmusz.

Adam Murphy, another EV driver, says he's experienced the headaches the cold weather can cause.

"My car, on a 70-degree day on the freeway, gets about 280 - 300 miles. If it's 40 degrees, it probably drops down to 220 miles, so you lose about 25%," said Murphy.

Murphy says EVs still come with lots of benefits, and eventually, car makers will produce more efficient batteries to keep up with bitter temps.

"There's technology that we need, and software that we need to change, and the manufacturers will figure that out over time," he said.

In the meantime, EV drivers are encouraged to keep their vehicles on a charger and out of the bitter cold for long periods of time.

Share this article: