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Cars electric car winter test

Published on March 26th, 2018 | by Steve Hanley

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Norway’s EV Association Conducts Biggest Winter Electric Car Test Ever

March 26th, 2018 by  


The EV Association of Norway took 5 electric car models for a road trip in the middle of winter to see how they would perform in cold, snowy conditions. Cold temperatures are tough on batteries. Their range is reduced, charging takes longer, and those problems are made worse by using the battery to heat the passenger compartment. The folks at the EV Association of Norway decided it was time to find out if electric cars are ready for prime time in winter driving conditions. The route went from Oslo to Hemsedal, a popular ski resort 3,000 meters above sea level, and back, for a journey of about 700 kilometers.

electric car winter test route

The cars included in the test were:

  • BMW i3
  • Hundai Ionic Electric
  • Nissan LEAF (second generation)
  • Opel Ampera – E
  • Volkswagen E-Golf

All were fitted with studless winter tires. Eco modes, if available, were deactivated while regen braking was set to the maximum possible for each of the car. Cabin temperatures were set to 20º C (68º F). The only thing the testers could not equalize between the cars was battery size. The Opel, with a battery nearly twice as large as some of the other cars, did not require charging as often and had enough range to complete every leg of the journey without stopping for more electrons.

electric car winter test

That highlights one of the quirks of electric cars. Batteries charge fastest when they are nearly depleted. Because the Opel had a larger battery, its state of charge was always higher than the other cars, which means it took longer to charge back to an 80% state of charge. Regardless of that fact, the group found the Opel was the slowest to charge of all the cars. It has the biggest battery but the least powerful onboard charger.

Even though the Hyundai has a smaller battery than the Opel, it can keep up with the Ampera-E on a journey because of its faster recharging speed. Another quirk revealed by the testing was that the new LEAF had the highest energy consumption per kilometer of all the cars in the group.

The road test report is filled with interesting details and is well worth reading. Its important findings are:

  1. All the cars performed adequately in winter conditions.
  2. The E-Golf had the best handling in the group.
  3. Assuming an electric car is charged overnight and starts the next day with an 80% charge, road trips in an EV don’t take any longer than in a conventional car with an internal combustion engine.
  4. #3 assumes availability of fast-charging equipment along the route. Expanding charging infrastructure will be crucial to avoiding long waits for chargers in the future.
  5. Different cars meet different needs. Do your shopping and comparisons first. A less expensive car may fit your personal needs just fine.
  6. The Hyundai Ioniq Electric has the lowest energy consumption of all the cars in the group.

Rather than declare a winner for this 5-car comparison, the testers concluded with this summary.

“The general refrain within the test team was that “none of the cars is best for all.” It is all about use pattern. Or taste and comfort. That is the main reason why the Opel Ampera-e and Hyundai IONIQ were the most discussed during the test. They remain references for different OEM approaches regarding usable battery capacity and fast-charging speed, while the remaining trio delivers consistently well in these areas without excelling in particular.”

To see a video of this winter EV driving test, go to the original EV Norway story.

The good news from this test is that drivers who live in cold climates have no reason to fear owning an electric car. In terms of which is best, this old expression is still true; ” You pays your money and your takes your choice.” Happy motoring!

A tip of the hat to Are Hansen and Leif Hansen. Thanks to both! 


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About the Author

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Rhode Island and anywhere else the Singularity may take him. His muse is Charles Kuralt -- "I see the road ahead is turning. I wonder what's around the bend?" You can follow him on Google + and on Twitter.



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